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Climate and Geography Africa has a very diverse climate, ranging from rainforests to deserts. Much of western africa is semi-arid, while small pockets are humid and receive much rainfall. Much of northern west africa is taken up by the Sahara Desert, the largest desert in the world. Areas near the desert tend to be dry. The land near the equator has soem tropical rain forests, though these are declining due to logging.
Timbuktu Founded in 1100 A.D, Timbuktu was a trading cneter for salt and gold. Gradually, however, scholars became attracted to the city, and it became a crossroads for learning and a center for Islamic expansion. Islamic learning became very important and the city turned into the pinnacle of Islamic study and learning.Timbuktu began to decline in 1591 when it was captured by Morocco.
Mali The Mali emerged among the declining Ghana. Their first leader Sundiata the Hero united the scattered tribes in 1235. The Mali became very rich through gold and trade. They had many skilled craftsman and were for a time that most powerful empire in west Africa. The Mali began to decline in the 1400's due to weak rulers and raids, but the citizens still dreamed of the empire one day returning to its full strength and power.