The Ghana Empire started in 300 AD in Western Africa. It is also called the Wagadou Empire. The Ghana Empire from 300 AD to 700 AD was larger than the Ghana we know today. Under King Dinga Cisse, the Ghana Empire was given the name ‘Ghana.’ Ghana means ‘War Chief’ in the Mande language. The Mande language is important because the people living in the Ghana Empire were the Mande people. It was the Mande people who founded the Ghana Empire.
TRADE WAS AN IMPORTANT PART OF THE EARLY GHANA EMPIRE
The Ghana Empire was known as the ‘The Land of Gold.’ It was the most powerful state in Western Africa. It controlled a large part of West Africa. From its capital city Koumbi Saleh, the Ghana Empire looked after the trade of gold, salt and kola nuts. The Ghana Empire took salt and cloth from the Kingdom of Morocco in North Africa. The Ghana Empire gave gold and kola nuts to the Moroccan Kingdom. From the Moroccan Empire, gold would be sent to Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
The Ghana Empire also developed iron. Iron was used to make farming tools and weapons. The Empire had an army of over 200,000 soldiers. By 770 AD, the kings of the Ghana Empire had complete control over the trade routes of the Sahara. People had to pay tax to the kings of the Ghana Empire if they wanted to trade with West Africa.
WHILST EUROPE WAS IN THE DARK AGES, GHANA FLOURISHED AS AN EMPIRE
By 1000 AD, the Empire of Ghana had grown very large. It grew in all directions – north, east, south and west. The Empire of Ghana controlled 650,000 square kilometres of land, which is 3 times the size of Britain today. Because of this growth, the Ghana Empire was the most powerful empire in the region at its time.
The Empire’s wealth was incredible. At the time, Europe was in the Dark Ages and had disease, no education and war. But, the Ghana Empire was rich, well-educated and famous around the world.