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Ghana, History

Dagomba, Mali Empire, Kingdom of Ghana, Gonja, Songhai

Archaeological evidence shows that human habitation in what is now Ghana dates back to 1500 bc. However, there is no evidence indicating that these early inhabitants were the ancestors of the current peoples of the country. From oral traditions historians have learned that the ancestors of many of Ghana's ethnic groups entered their present territories by the 10th century ad. For hundreds of years thereafter, upheaval caused by the rise and fall of powerful kingdoms on the upper Niger River contributed to population migrations into northern Ghana. The first of these states was the Kingdom of Ghana, which emerged as early as 500 ad, expanded greatly by the 9th century, and collapsed in the 11th century. The Kingdom of Ghana was located in what is now southeastern Mauritania and southwestern Mali. (The only relationship between this ancient kingdom and the modern nation of Ghana is a shared name. The former Gold Coast was renamed Ghana in 1957 to symbolize its historic place as the first black African nation to gain political independence from European colonial rule.) The Kingdom of Ghana was succeeded by the Mali Empire and then Songhai. These later states developed commercial links with the people of what is now Ghana. For example, the ancient town of Begho, located on the margin between the forests of the south and the savanna of the north, emerged in the 15th century as an important commercial center. Here, savanna and Saharan goods such as cloth and metal wares were exchanged for gold and kola nuts from the south. Although no part of present-day Ghana was ever dominated by these empires to the northwest, Muslim traders came to influence the affairs of northern peoples such as the Gonja and Dagomba. Most significant was their introduction of Islam.

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Article key phrases:

Dagomba, Mali Empire, Kingdom of Ghana, Gonja, Songhai, ancient kingdom, kola nuts, empires, early inhabitants, Archaeological evidence, upheaval, savanna, human habitation, forests, ancestors, Gold Coast, margin, northwest, rise, bc, century, cloth, country, example, relationship


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