Africa is one of the earth’s seven continents. It is the second largest continent. Africa is a land of great beauty and resources.
The earliest evidence of human beings comes from Africa. Many great cultures developed here.
Click on these links to play some geography games.
Africa is one of the earth’s seven continents. There are many different countries on the continent of Africa. Play these games to learn more about the geography of Africa and world.
How well do you know the countries of Africa?
Click on the words above to play.
Click on the bottom left hand corner of the screen. Click on Pointer and then Pen. Use the Pen to draw a line from the country name to the correct location on the map. When done, click OFF the pencil and on the arrow.
Having trouble? Try studying the map again here.
Africa was the home of four great civilizations; Nubia, Ghana, Mali and Songhay.
Enter each of the circles. Start with Nubia, then Ghana, then Mali, and finally Songhay.
Ghana developed in West Africa between the Niger (NI-jhur) and the Gambia Rivers. It was an important kingdom there from about AD300 to about 1100. The rivers helped Ghana to grow rich because they were used to transport goods and develop trade. Ghana also collected taxes from traders who passed through the kingdom. The people called their nation Wagadu; we know it as Ghana --that was the word for war chief.
The kingdom of Ghana probably began when several clans of the Soninke people of west Africa came together under the leadership of a great king named Dinga Cisse.
Ghana had few natural resources except salt and gold. They were also very good at making things from iron. Ghanaian warriors used iron tipped spears to subdue their neighbors, who fought with weapons made of stone, bone, and wood.
"The King . . .(wears). . . necklaces round his neck and bracelets on his forearms and he puts on a high cap decorated with gold and wrapped in a turban of fine cotton. He (meets people) in a domed pavilion around which stand ten horses covered with gold-embroidered materials…and on his right, are the sons of the (lesser) kings of his country, wearing splendid garments and their hair plaited with gold. At the door of the pavilion are dogs of excellent pedigree. Round their necks they wear collars of gold and silver, studded with a number of balls of the same metals."
After 700 AD, the religion of Islam began to spread over northern Africa. Followers of this religion are called Muslims. Muslim warriors came into Ghana and fought with the non-Islamic people there. This weakened the great civilization of Ghana. Local warriors then decided to break away from the power of Ghana and form their own local kingdoms. This ended many of the trade networks. This eventually weakened the civilization of Ancient Ghana.
Islamic Mosque in Ghana
Nubia was a great civilization that developed along the Nile River south of Egypt. They shared many of the same cultural traits as Egypt such as religion, architecture and art.
These are the pyramid of Ancient Nubia. They were used as tombs. Although they are similar to those of Ancient Egypt, they have some differences. Compare these pyramids with those of ancient Egypt.
As you look at the following pictures, think of these questions: What are the pyramids made of? How many sides are there? How large are they? (Notice person next to middle one.)
Notice the people at the base of this Egyptian pyramid. This helps to show the size of the pyramid.
Use your notetaking sheet to record the things that are the same, and the things that are different between the Nubian and Egyptian pyramids. See example above.
The Land of Nubia
For many centuries, the people and culture of Ancient Nubia were a mystery to the world. Even the Ancient Greeks wrote about an advanced culture that was mostly unknown to other civilizations of the time.
One reason little was known about the culture was that they did not write down their history until late in ancient times. Another reason is that they were isolated geographically. Outside people would need to cross harsh desert or many waterfalls, called cataracts, to reach Nubia.
Nubian writing was similar to Egyptian writing but developed into a completely separate language later in time.
Ancient Nubia was a great kingdom that produced many resources like gold, ivory, copper, frankincense and ebony.
Nubia was also known as Kush and The Land of the Bow. Nubian archers (warriors who used a bow and arrow) were feared by all who saw them in battle.
Nubia had a long line of powerful kings. They were often at war with Egypt, to the North. From about 2,000 to 1,000 BC, Egypt controlled Nubia but when Egypt weakened, Nubia came north and conquered Egypt (800-700 BC.)
A frankincense tree. The resin was used to make good smelling incense.
Which word below is the correct definition of the word continent?
A group of islands.
One of the earth’s seven large land masses.
Land belonging to a nation or state.
Sorry! Try Again
A group of islands is called an archipelago.
There are seven continents that make up the land masses of the earth. They are:
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A country is a region of land that often includes people who share a similar language and have a common culture. Many countries may exist on a continent.
Resources of Africa
Click here and you will be taken to a map of Africa. Click on each country to see what resources come from that country. Be sure to click “close window” after each country you visit.
Africa is a land of great beauty and resources. Some of the resources that come from Africa are; rubber, gold, wheat, copper and cotton.
The earliest fossils we have found of creatures considered human beings have come from Africa. So it seems likely that Africa was the birthplace of human beings!
A powerful king named Sundiata ruled this area from around 1230-1255 AD. He led the people in conquering and expanding his kingdom to be as great as Ghana had been.
Perhaps the greatest king of Mali was Mansa Musa (1312-1337). He developed the gold and salt trade of Mali and his kingdom became very powerful and rich.
Mansu Musa: Lord of the Negroes of Guinea. (Photo courtesy of History of Africa)
Mansa Musa was a Muslim, meaning he followed the religion of Islam. He built many beautiful mosques or Islamic temples in western Africa.
Use your worksheet to answer questions about the mosque.
In 1324 Mansa Musa made a pilgrimage ( a journey to a holy place) to Mecca, which is a holy city in Arabia, with 60,000 servants and followers and 80 camels carrying more than 4,000 pounds of gold to be distributed among the poor. Of the 12,000 servants 500 carried a staff of pure gold. This showed his power and wealth to the other people he visited.
When Mansa Musa died there were no kings as powerful as he was to follow. The great kingdom of Mali weakened. Eventually a group of people known as Berbers came into the area and other people came up from the south to claim territory that was once part of the kingdom. Although Mali fell, another advanced African kingdom took its place, the kingdom of Songhay.
The Berbers still live in North Africa. This picture, taken in 1893, shows a Berber group.
Africa produced many great civilizations. During the time of the Middle Ages of Europe, the African kingdoms of Mali, Ghana and Songhay were places of advanced learning and great wealth. At the time of ancient Egypt, Nubia was a powerful force with an advanced culture. Strong leaders and vast natural resources helped these cultures rule large areas of northern and western Africa for hundreds of years.
Now that you know a lot about the kingdoms of Africa, use the web in your packet to write an essay. Click on the picture of Africa in the center.
This map was created in 1375. The same trade routes were used by the merchants of the Songhay kingdom. What kinds of pictures do you see on the map and why do you think the mapmaker put them there?
The picture above is one artist’s idea of what the great Songhay leader, Sunni Ali might have looked like. Sunni Ali saw that the kingdom of Mali was weakening and he led his soldiers to conquer the area. He began the kingdom of Songhay. He also set up a complex government to rule all the lands he had conquered.
All three kingdoms of West Africa relied on trade for their strength and wealth. Look at the map at complete the “In and Out of Africa” worksheet in your packet.
Sunni Ali died in 1492 CE. His son took over the rule of Songhay but he did not accept Islam as a religion. Islam was accepted as a religion by many people in northern Africa. One of Sunni Ali’s generals, named Muhammad Ture, overthrew the new king and made himself king of Songhay. Ture was a follower of Islam (Muslim) and so he made Islam the religion of his kingdom.
This is a photo of a mosque, or place of worship for Muslims, in western Africa. Many mosques were built of local materials.
Songhay remained a rich and strong kingdom under Muhammad Ture’s rule. It had a complex government centered in the city of Gao, and great centers of learning. But later rulers were not as powerful. In the late 1500s, Morocco invaded Songhay to take its rich trade routes. Moroccans had a new weapon, the gun, and the army of Songhay did not. This led to the fall of Songhay.
(Photo courtesy of African Origin of Civilization by Cheikh Anta Diop)
For more detailed information on Songhay, click on the picture.
You will be using the web in your packet to help you write an essay about what you have learned. Click on the chart below, how would you label the missing “bubbles” for Songhay?