The Rise of West African Empires (300-1324) - The Rise of Mali
Standards: 7.4.3
  • Describe the role of the trans-Saharan caravan trade in the changing religious and cultural characteristics of West Africa and the influence of Islamic beliefs, ethics, and law.
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The Rise of Mali

Key Terms and People

Sundiata: (hungering lion) first ruler of the Mali Empire

conversion: change of religion

Mansa Musa: (Mansa means emperor) Mali's most famous Muslim ruler.

inflation: general rise in prices

scholarship: formal study and learning

Ibn Battuta: great traveler and Arab diplomat (A person who represents his/her country's government in a foreign country and is responsible for developing relationships between the two countries.)


Section Notes

The Rise of Mali

  • In about 1203, Sumanguru (Sorcerer King) took over what was left of Ghana. He was crule and killed all that challenged his power. He killed many Malinka people but did not kill one of the crippled princes named Sundiata.
  • In 1235, Sundiata crushed Sumanguru's forces. This victory was the beginning of the new empire Mali. He took control of the gold-producing regions and promoted farming. He became the Mali's national hero.
  • Other ruleres expanded the Mali empire to about the size of Western Europe.

A Great Empire

  • Mali became a world power and traded with Egypt, North Africa and the nations of southern Europe. Mali adopted the religion of Islam. It had close ties to North Africa.
  • In 1324, Mansa Musa made a pilgrimage to Mecca. He used many camels and brought many bags of gold dust. He gave away gold in Cairo, Egypt. All the gold hurt Egypt's economy. He ran out of gold which caused inflation in Cairo (Gold lost its value there).
  • When he returned to Mali, he spent lots of money to encourage Islamic learning. He brought Egyptian scholars, artists, architects, and teachers to Mali. He had great mosques built in Mali, a palace in Timbukto. Timbukto bacame the center for Islamic scholarship. Students traveld there from North Africa and the Middle East.
  • Mansa Musa ruled for 25 years and expanded the empire (about the size of Western Europe) to the north and west to the Altantic Ocean.
  • Ibn Battuta visited Mali from Morocco. He described Mali as a peaceful country whose people strictly followed Islam.


Summary: The Mali Empire prospered from the gold-salt trade. It became a center of Islamic learning.

Study Guide Questions

How did Sundiata gain control of the gold-salt trade?

Why did Mansa Musa travel to Mecca?

How did Sundiata become ruler of Mali?

How did Sundiata improve conditions for trade in the region?

How did Mansa Musa's journey affect Cairo's economy?

How did Mansa Musa's journey change Mali's position in the eyes of the world?

Practice Test

Homework: Choose one
  1. Workbook Chapter 5 Section 3 (Page 66)
  2. Answer three of the study guide questions using complete sentences.
  3. Draw a picture of something important from this section and summarize this section of the text (three sentences minimum).