Africa, 1491

  1. Highly diverse
    1. As with Amerindians and Europeans, difficult to generalize
    2. Relative lack of written records that have survived complicates efforts to understand region's history
  2. Long history of engagement with Europe
    1.  Ancient North Africa critical to European development
      1. Egypt notably profoundly influential
      2. Carthage competed with Rome for imperial dominance, strongly influenced development of Roman Empire
    2. Trade always critical
      1. Beyond the states on the north coast, long distance trade across Sahara and along the Nile was fairly constant
      2. West African sub-Sahara source for most of Europe's gold and much of its salt
    3. Conquest in both directions
      1. Greece and Rome both establish empires in North Africa
      2. Some Gothic tribes migrate into North Africa during Roman collapse
      3. Islamic conquests out of North Africa reach Iberia, southern Italy, and Sardinia and Sicily
  3. North and West Africa have most interaction with Europe, particularly in pre-industrial era
    1. North Africa
      1. Mostly Islamic, significant influx of Arab culture and language after conquests in 700s
      2. Growing power of Ottoman Turks, would begin significant conquests in 1500s
      3. Region remains largely independent of Europe in pre-industrial era
    2. West Africa - North
      1.  Interior dominated by Mali (1200s-1300s) and Songhai (1400s-1591)
        1. significant Islamization of the Sahel (grasslands south of the Sahara) under these kingdoms
        2. Prospered on control of trade routes across the Sahara, feeding salt from Sahel, and gold from coastal state to Mediterranean
      2. Coastal zone a mix of city-states and large kingdoms
        1. Mande peoples held a number of city-states in far west in the Senegambia region
        2. Southern coast of West Africa dominated by Kingdoms Dahomey (west) and Benin (east)
        3. In the central region way the Oyo kingdom, home of the Yoruba, would shape much of Caribbean and Brazilian culture
    3. West-Africa - Central/South
      1. Largest state was Kongo, along the coastal region of modern Congo and deep into interior
      2. Numerous city-states and small kingdoms controlled rest of region
    4. Europeans, primarily Portuguese, begin maritime trade and exploration in West Africa in 1400s
      1. Would establish trading posts in some of the coastal zones
      2. Little direct conquest prior to the industrial age; what conquest did take place was primarily Portuguese