Ghana, Mali, and Songhai
- Ghana rose to power in the 400 AD's. This city was a crossroad of trade. The rulers taxed travelers to pass through, but travelers paid for many reasons. One, the Ghana rulers knew how to make iron weapons. Two, they had a huge army. It was said that the king could call upon the people, and he would have an army of 2,000 people. Three, the people wanted to trade with the people in Ghana and in surrounding areas. Africans paid taxes to the Berber mines for salt, and then the Berbers sold the gold in Europe to get rich.
- After Ghana fell in 1200's, Mali replaced it. Sucliata, who ruled from 1230-1255, seized Ghana's capital in 1240. He won the control of land from the Atlantic Coast to the trading city of Timbuktu and beyond. These conquests put Mali in control of gold-mining areas, allowing them to rebuild the gold and salt trade.
- Mali started to fall after the death of their greatest ruler, King Mansa, in 1337. The kings who followed King Mansa failed to stop Berber conquerors, which, for a time, ruled Timbuktu. In 1468, Sunni Ali, leader of the Songhai, stormed into Timbuktu and drove out the Berbers. Then, he began a compain of conquest. His armies then took over the river trade routes, and the Berber salt mines. The empire lasted 100 years, being defeated by a small army with guns and gunpowder in 1519.