Kingdom of Ghana

Africa in the Middle Ages


Ghana was located in the upper Niger river valley, which were grasslands between the Sahara desert and tropical rain forests on the west coast of Africa. The geography of Ghana affected its growth because the fertile soil in the river valley allowed the people to successfully farm crops.


The climate in Ghana was very hot. This caused people there to lose salt that their bodies needed, so they began trading with Arab merchants to obtain the salt they needed to replenish themselves.

Economic Activity

Most people in Ghana were farmers who lived in villages.

Trade was the main economic activity in Ghana at the time. Ghana was abundant in iron ore, which their blacksmiths used to make tools and weapons that were traded with Arab traders for other goods. Gold was another abundant metal that was found in Ghana. The heartland of the kingdom was located near one of the richest gold-producing areas in Africa. This product made Ghana the center of an enormous trading empire. Ghana traded with Muslim merchants, who made Ghana's traders very wealthy. From Arab traders, Ghana obtained salt, metal goods, textiles, and horses. As mentioned above, salt was the most important because the people of Ghana had a salt deficiency. From trading with the Arabs, Ghana became immensely rich. Because of this the kings of Ghana were viewed as one of the highest powers in the world.


The people of Ghana were known as the Ashanti. In the Ashanti traditional religion, there was a chief god, Nyane, and his sons were the lesser gods. The people of Ghana believed that their gods could not be trusted, so the people had to please them to avoid danger. After trading with Arabs, Ghana's traditional religion began to shift towards Islam. Some people completely converted and became Muslim, while others remained followers of traditional religions.

The Ashanti also had a very wealthy culture due to trade with Arab merchants. The rulers of Ghana were adorned in gold crowns and jewelry and wore fine, printed robes.

Political Boundaries

Middle Age Ghana was a circular area near the west African coast. This area was near Mali, and was located in the Niger river valley grasslands between the Sahara desert and the tropical rain forests.
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Map Key

  • Sun: Sahara Desert
  • Tree with rain cloud: Tropical Rain Forests
  • Dollar Sign: Gold
  • Wrench: Iron Ore