The Sahel states were limited from expanding south into the forest zone of the Ashanti and Yoruba as mounted warriors were all but useless in the forests and the horses and camels could not survive the heat and diseases of the region.
There were integrated kingdoms and empires, with substantial cities and significant towns; and less organised territories with large scattered populations. People practised agriculture, stock-rearing, hunting, fishing, and crafts (metalworking, textiles, ceramics). They navigated along rivers and across lakes, trading over short and long distances, using their own currencies.
African states between 500 BCE and 1500 CE
The main Arab slave trade routes in Africa during the Middle Ages.
Trade routes of the western Saharan Desert c. 1000 – 1500 Goldfields are indicated by light brown shading.
The Ghana Empire at its greatest extent c. 1050
The successor states to the Ghana Empire c. 1200