Empires of the Savannah
Although over 12 percent of the population of the United States traces its ancestry to West Africa, the history of that intriguing part of the globe is often little known or appreciated by many Americans. Several of the great empires rose in West Africa during the Middle Ages. They dominated areas as large as that of the Roman Empire at its height and made their influence felt throughout North Africa, the Middle East and Europe. An overview of the Empire of Mali, one of the more prominent of these unique civilizations, demonstrates a degree of political and economic sophistication on par with any of its contemporaries in other parts of the world.