The Rise and Fall of the Ghana Empire of West Africa

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Kelly Macquire
published on 28 February 2024

Did you know that the rulers of the Ghana Empire were so rich they were known as Kings of Gold? This video is all about the rise and fall of the great Ghana Empire, once known as the land of gold.

The Ghana Empire flourished in West Africa from at least the 6th to 13th century CE. Not connected geographically to the modern state of Ghana, the Ghana Empire was located in the western Sudan savannah region (modern southern Mauritania and Mali) sandwiched between the Sahara desert to the north and the rainforests to the south.

Trade in the Ghana Empire was facilitated by the abundance of iron, copper, gold, and ivory and easy access to the Niger and Senegal Rivers and their tributaries. The Ghana kings, residing in the capital at Koumbi Saleh, grew immensely rich, building up stockpiles of the gold nuggets only they were permitted to possess. Consequently, the reputation of Ghana spread to North Africa and Europe, where it was described as a fabulous land of gold. The Ghana Empire crumbled from the 12th century CE following drought, civil wars, the opening up of trade routes elsewhere, and the rise of the Sosso Kingdom (c. 1180-1235 CE) and then the Mali Empire (1240-1645 CE).

00:00 Intro
00:43 Introduction to the Ghana Empire
01:40 The Rise of the Ghana Empire
03:30 Ghana Cities and Kings
07:16 Decline and Fall of the Ghana Empire
09:02 Outro

Ghana Empire
The Gold Trade of Ancient & Medieval West Africa–medieval-west-africa/
The Salt Trade of Ancient West Africa
Mali Empire

The History of the West African Salt Trade
The Poet and Scholar Callimachus of Cyrene
The Wars of the Roses: Causes and Consequences
The Life and Death of Mary Queen of Scots



The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

World History Encyclopedia

#history #africanhistory #africa #goldtrading #ghana

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About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2024, February 28). The Rise and Fall of the Ghana Empire of West Africa. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Rise and Fall of the Ghana Empire of West Africa." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified February 28, 2024.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "The Rise and Fall of the Ghana Empire of West Africa." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 28 Feb 2024. Web. 19 Jul 2024.