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North Africa to the 1870s

- Egypt and Sudan -

- Algeria and the Maghreb -

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By the final decade of the 18th century Africans had survived several centuries of outside interference and remained largely in control of their own destinies. Ottoman control over North Africa had declined in the face of increasing European dominance of Mediterranean Sea trade. For the most part, Egypt and the coastal settlements and ports of the Maghreb acted independently of central Ottoman authority. To the west, Morocco remained an independent kingdom, but the king’s power did not extend far beyond Morocco’s major cities.

In the desert regions to the south, trans-Saharan caravans continued to ply their trade between the southern savanna lands, the salt mines and oases of the desert, and the Mediterranean world. However, the scale of trans-Saharan trade had declined considerably from its height in the 16th century. This was largely due to the rising importance of European seaborne trade along the West African coast.

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