Year 7

Gold and the West African economy

I can explain why gold was so important to the West African economy.

Year 7

Gold and the West African economy

I can explain why gold was so important to the West African economy.

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. Gold was the main resource traded in the Sahel.
  2. Empires in the Sahel could make a large profit from this trade.
  3. The Ghana and Mali empires indirectly controlled the goldfields through trade.
  4. The trade enriched the Islamic ruling elite of the Mali Empire.
  5. The Mali Empire used its wealth from the gold trade to improve its levels of knowledge and understanding.

Common misconception

Empires have to own land in order to control it.

Control can be gained through a variety of indirect means, such as through trade or tribute.


  • Islam - Islam is the religion of Muslim people

  • Elite - the elite are the group of people who hold power

  • Mine - a mine is an excavation in the earth to extract minerals

  • Trade - trade means the exchange of goods


This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).



6 Questions

This keyword is used in the Mali Empire to refer to the king or emperor.
Correct Answer: Mansa, mansa
This keyword is a group of territories ruled over by one person or group of people.
Correct Answer: empire, Empire
Which religion did the rulers of Mali and the people who lived in the trade cities generally followers?
Correct answer: animism
Which of the following sentences accurately describes how Sundiata Keita ruled the Mali Empire? Select the two correct answers.
Correct answer: Sundiata Keita ruled with respect.
Correct answer: Sundiata Keita allowed of the kingdoms to be granted some independence.
Sundiata Keita ruled with fear.
What happened when Mansa Musa tried to ensure his subjects all converted to Islam? Select the two correct answers.
Correct answer: The gold miners refused to dig for gold unless they could follow their beliefs.
His subjects happily to convert to Islam.
Correct answer: Mansa Musa learnt the importance of tolerance of different beliefs.
Which famous Muslim scholar and explorer from North Africa did not approve of religious compromise?
Correct answer: Ibn Battuta
Mansa Musa
Sundiata Keita
the Sosso king

6 Questions

Match the words with their definitions. Write the correct letter in each box.
Correct Answer:Islam,the religion of Muslim people.

the religion of Muslim people.

Correct Answer:elite,the group of people who hold power.

the group of people who hold power.

Correct Answer:mine,an excavation in the earth to extract minerals.

an excavation in the earth to extract minerals.

The keyword meaning the exchange of goods is .
Correct Answer: trade, Trade
How did the Ghana and Mali empires control the goldfields of West Africa?
Correct answer: through trade
by owning the land
by only allowing their citizens to dig for gold
Who drove the demand for West African gold?
Correct answer: The elite of medieval Europe
The elite of West Africa
Mansa Musa
What did the Mansa carry as symbols of his authority?
Correct answer: a golden bow and arrows
gold coins
books illustrated with gold
Which of the following statements accurately describes how the riches of the Mali empire were displayed? Select all the answers that are correct.
Correct answer: The Sankore Mosque, a centre of Islamic religion and learning, was improved
Correct answer: The Djinguereber Mosque was built in 1327 and held many books
Correct answer: the dogs of the Malian elite wore gold collars
Correct answer: 500 enslaved people carried staffs of pure gold when Mansa Musa went to Mecca

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