3,500,000 square miles
Sand dunes cover 1/4 of
of the Sahara
Has some scattered oases
has bare, rocky plains as
well as mountains.
short grasses, small trees,
small brush grows in the sahel.
south of the Sahara
Known as the semidesert
Not as dry as the Sahara
Tall grasses, trees and grains
grow in the savanna
Sahel merges into the
Has a long rainy season
Niger River help make land
fertile and also provide fish for
Trees, shrubs, oil palms, yams,
kola trees, mahogany, teak trees
grow in the West African forests.
Wetter than the savanna
Northern part: is the woodland
Southern part: is the rainforest
(rains year round)
2. Trade: Why was trade so important to
West African communities?
• 2. Different resources are found in the
different areas. People had to trade in
order to get the resources that they did
not have in their region.
1. What is an extended family? How many
members would be part of an extended
• An extended family includes close
relatives such as grandparents as well
as aunts, uncles and their children.
• An extended family may have about 15-
2. List three things that an extended family
may do together.
• Extended families formed villages to
• mine for iron or gold
• or for protection.
3. Who made decisions in a family-based
• One of the male elders probably made
decisions for the community.
1. What were the two reasons why African
villages eventually grew into Towns and Cities?
• Growth of ironworking.
• Expansion of trade
2. How did the introduction/discovery of iron
influence the transformation from villages into
towns and cities?
• Farmers could clear land and grow more crops.
• This gave an abundance of food available to people and
gave people a chance to make other things.
• They could trade their supplies for goods they could not
produce themselves and this created trading sites.
These sites grew richer and became towns & cities due
to a higher population of people settling there.
2. How did the location along trade routes affect
development of cities?
• Villages located along rivers or other
trade routes became trading sites. By
taxing traders, villages became wealthy.
Wealth led to an increase in population,
and villages often grew into towns and
3. Why were archaeologists fascinated with
the city of Jenne-jeno?
• Jenne-jeno was located at the intersection of the
Niger and Bani Rivers. This ideal location for
farming, fishing, and trade allowed it to become
a large city.
• Historians did not think that cities existed in
West Africa until they discovered Jenne-jeno.
4. Why were blacksmiths at a higher status level than others
in the city of Jenne-jeno?
• People were amazed that blacksmiths could
make iron useful and iron was more valuable to
them than gold.
• People thought that blacksmiths had
• Blacksmiths were similar to political leaders,
judges, doctors, and other important positions.
1. According to History Alive, trading cities developed into
kingdoms/empires because of taxes collected from trading
goods. Why would money be a factor in creating a larger
• With the increase of money, these areas could
afford to have larger armies, which would in turn
allow them to conquer other trading cities/towns.
2. Explain how a tribute worked and why was
it an important gesture to a new king?
• After a place was conquered, a tribute was paid
to the new “owner” of the land.
• This tribute was a way to show the new “owner”
that you will obey his rules.
• Tributes helped pay for more protection that was
needed from outside attackers.
3. Disadvantages of being a part
of a kingdom?
• People living in conquered areas had to
• men had to serve in the army.
3. Advantages of being a part of a kingdom?
• Armies made sure trade routes were
• They kept out foreign armies and
• Wars between small cities ended.
• Kings passed out the luxury goods fairly
throughout the kingdom.