How did geography affect trade in west africa
Harmattan is a seasional trade wind in west african countries
The Sahara Desert, on the other hand, was a major impediment to travel and trade. Caravans crossing the desert could easily become disoriented in the shifting, unmarked sands. Getting lost and losing one of the caravan’s few water sources may mean the caravan’s demise. The journey through the desert was long and difficult.
The Niger River served as a thoroughfare across West Africa.
To promote trade within West Africa, the kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai (until Songhai was conquered by the Islamic Empire of Morocco) blew up the Niger River.
The atlantic slave trade: what too few textbooks told you
Traveling across the Sahara between Sub-Saharan Africa and North Africa is necessary for trans-Saharan trade. Although trade has existed since prehistoric times, it peaked in the 8th century and lasted until the early 17th century.
The Sahara used to be a very different place. Pastoralism, sheep and goat herding, large villages, and pottery have all been found in Libya and Algeria since at least 7000 BC. Between 4000 and 3500 BC, cattle were introduced to the Central Sahara (Ahaggar). Remarkable rock paintings (dating from 3500 to 2500 BC) in currently dry areas depict flora and fauna not found in the modern desert world.  As a desert, the Sahara has become a hostile barrier separating the Mediterranean economy from the Niger basin economy. Crossing such a region, particularly without mechanized transport, is only worthwhile when exceptional circumstances allow the expected benefit to outweigh the cost and risk, as Fernand Braudel points out. [two]
Camels were used to transport goods starting around 300 CE. The average caravan size was 1,000 camels, according to Ibn Battuta, an explorer who accompanied one of the caravans, but some caravans were as large as 12,000. [number four]  The caravans would be led by well-paid Berbers who knew their way around the desert and could ensure their fellow desert nomads’ safety. A caravan’s survival was uncertain, and it would take diligent teamwork. Runners would be sent ahead of time to oases so that water could be delivered to the caravan when it was still many days out, as the caravans could not bring enough water to complete the journey. Ibn Battuta crossed the desert from Sijilmasa to Oualata through the salt mines of Taghaza in the mid-14th century. On the four-day journey from Oualata to reach the caravan, a guide was sent ahead and water was carried. [number six]
Trading gold for salt: ancient africa
Mali’s geographical position in West Africa, as well as its physical and human characteristics, have had a variety of effects on its culture. The Niger River, in particular, has played an important role in its history, providing water for domestic and agricultural purposes as well as serving as a trade “highway.” Mali also represented the fusion of many environmental domains, including desert, short and tall grasslands, and (in the past) the forest fringe. Different environments are capable of manufacturing different goods, thus creating trading conditions. The Mali Empire was founded on trade, especially gold and salt trade. Its cities became crossroads for north-south trade routes through West Africa, known as gold routes. However, after the discovery of all-water routes around Africa and around the world in the period after 1500 A.D., the region’s relative position shifted, and the economies of West Africa started a long period of decline. One of the more intriguing questions we might ask is how imperial Mali became so wealthy while modern Mali became so impoverished, despite the fact that their geographical position remained essentially unchanged.
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The southern portion of the continent’s bulge, which stretches westward to the Atlantic Ocean, is included in the West African area. The African Transition Zone, which runs along the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, divides this area. The Sahara Desert and the Niger River are the two most prominent physical features. The Cameroon Highlands are situated on Cameroon’s eastern border with Nigeria. The Nile River is Africa’s longest at 4,100 miles, while the Congo River is Africa’s second longest at 2,922 miles. The Niger River, Africa’s third-longest river, flows over 2,600 miles from the Guinea Highlands to the Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Guinea, passing through Mali, Niger, and Nigeria.
Some geographers classify Chad, or parts of it, as part of the West African region. Chad is identified with Central Africa in this textbook. North of the African Transition Region, areas of Chad have features that are similar to those of North Africa. The Cape Verde Islands are a group of islands off the coast of Mauritania that are united as an independent African republic. Cape Verde was a Portuguese colony until 1975, when it gained independence. Western Sahara has been at odds with Morocco over independence, and is most generally associated with North Africa due to the presence of Islam and its proximity to Morocco.