The Centralized States of West Africa

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Centralized States Introduction The great centralized states of West Africa constitute some of Africa's most glorious empires. These states arose in the savannah as well as the forest, but always used the same basic model. For over a millennium, these states dominated the core of West Africa and the lucrative gold trade, making use of trade connections with its Islamic neighbors to the east. Thesis: Each of the major centralized powers of the region developed through their control of trans-Saharan trade in gold, salt, and slaves, using the trade surplus to support large urban centers and for gigantic efforts of state enterprise in agriculture and the military. The Empires were usually composed of federated city-states speaking who provided food and military support to the King in return for the King's clearing of land for agriculture, access to manufactures, and military protection. Analysis Ghana Empire 830 A.D. 1235 A.D. Saharan West Africa was a sparsely settled until the domestication of the camel and the rise of Arab and Islamic trading states to its east. The domestication of the camel enabled the extensive gold, ivory, and salt resources of the region to be sent north and east to population centers in North Africa, the Middle East and Europe in exchange for manufactured goods. (Illike, 52). The Ghana Empire gained control of the caravan routes through which this trade was conducted. (51). The Ghana empire grew rich from the trans-Saharan trade in gold
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