Exploring the West African Gold Belt


The wealth created by the West African gold belt underpinned the great West African empires of the period 1230-1490. Originating as a federation of tribes called the Manden Kurufaba, they later became a series of empires which ruled millions of people from nearly every ethnic group in West Africa.

Gold production from the West African gold belt underpinned these great empires. By 1325, under Emperor Mansa Musa, the Manden Kurufaba accounted for well over half of all gold mined in the Old World.

When Ibn Battuta - the illustrious Muslim Moroccan explorer - arrived in West Africa in 1352, he found a thriving civilization that rivalled anything in the Muslim or Christian worlds at the time. At its pinnacle only the Mongol Empire was larger.