Africa: Past and present Corbin Gross, Rayden Piepmeyer, Elijah Shepherd

Land Use

The primary way the land was and still is used in Sub-Saharan Africa is through subsistence farming. This is where farmers work in smaller plots of land, and grow only enough to feed themselves and their families. Commercial farming involves growing on larger plots of land, and producing crops to sell for a profit. The fact that Africans use so much of the land for subsistence farming is an issue because they aren't generating income from much of this.

Valuable Mineral Resources

Sub-Saharan Africa is blessed with many valuable mineral resources. Two of their most valuables include gold, which they produce anywhere from 40%-60% of the world's supply. Another major resource that they minein Africa is diamonds. It is estimated that perhaps 65% of the world's diamonds are mined there, mainly in the southern region. Unfortunately, since the resources are not distributed evenly throughout the continent, this leads to unequal wealth, uneven population distribution, wars over access to the resources, and government corruption.


Despite having many natural resources, the Democratic Republic of Congo remains one of the poorest nations in the world. They do not only have gold, but they are also rich in the "3 T's": They are tin, tungsten, and tantalum. All of these are very valuable minerals because they go into producing cell phones, gaming systems, and lots of other technology. The problem is that armed rebel groups have control of the mines. They force people to work in them, they sell the minerals to fund themselves and buy more weapons, and they bribe corrupt government leaders to stay out. All this leads to poverty in the DRC.


The top five nations with the highest GDP Per Capita in Africa are as follows: Mauritius $12,800; South Africa $11,100; Botswana $9,200; Seychelles $7,800; Namibia $7,300. 16 nations in the continent have a GDP Per Capita lower than $1,000. Reasons why those 5 are so much higher than others include the following reasons: they may have more natural resources, they trade more, they better education, better technology, a highly skilled workforce, better transportation, or better healthcare. Any combination of these factors, or all of these factors together can cause the differences in GDP and standard of living between nations.


There are 28 out of the 31 countries of the world with the lowest life expectancy that are from Sub-Saharan Africa. There are many factors that affect this, but the primary reason is due the the prevalence of HIV/AIDS. 770,000 out of the 1.1 million people who died of AIDS last year are from Africa. There are 24 million Africans that are estimated that are currently infected with HIV.


The names of the Three West African Kingdoms were Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. They existed between 800 CE and 1600 CE. They traded on the Trans-Saharan trade network. West Africans traded gold to North Africans for salt. Slaves were traded to other people on this network.


According to the Koran, Muslims are not allowed to enslave other Muslims. Which led many North African traders to obtain slaves from West Africa. Since then, many of these were taken as prisoners of war, their slaves were mostly used for military service. Overall, they were treated much better and had lots more freedom than what we know about Europeans taking slaves. They were not only able to obtain their freedom easier, but were also able to own property, their own slaves, and could even become generals of Muslim armies.


King Mansa Musa was probably the most powerful king, not just of Mali, but in any of the West African Kingdoms. He was Muslim and he went on a hajj in 1325 that became well known throughout the world. It included 60,000 people and 80 camels carrying 300 lbs. of gold each. on his return he brought back Muslim scholars and architects to build cities, and also mosques and schools in Timbuktu. Timbuktu became the center of trade and learning in West Africa. Muslim scholars from all over came to study religion, law, music, mathematics, and others there. He is known to be the richest man to ever live. On his Hajj he was not greedy he handed out so much gold to cities he made the price of gold drop for alot of years. He is worth 400 billion dollars in todays money(US Dollars).


Ibn Battuta was the first person to make the Three West African Kingdoms. At age 21, he left his home city of Tangier, Morocco to go on a hajj to Mecca. He did not return for 30 years. He traveled 75,000 miles all over Africa and Asia, writing about the different countries he was in. After he returned to his home country, he put his travel writings together in a book called the Rihla, which is still available today. It was the first travel book ever written.

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