Beginning in 3150 BC with political unification under the first pharaoh, Egypt had the longest and most well known empire in history. Its technological, cultural, linguistic, economic, social, and artistic innovations are without parallel in the course of human history. Volumes have been written about its accomplishments and that of its leaders, we won’t bore you, so look up the rest yourself.
The Kingdom of Aksum was one of the greatest empires to ever exist in Africa. Lasting from around 100 AD to 940 AD, it spanned a large portion of east Africa and beyond, including modern-day Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, and Sudan. There are few remnants left today, though the name of the modern-day city of Aksum (Axum), Ethiopia serves as a reminder of a kingdom that was once connected to early Christianity, the Queen of Sheba.
great civilizations of Meroe and Axum which had indigenous writing systems, and sculpted amazing stone towers still around today. They were famous iron workers whose weapons and tools were much sought out and traded in the Middle East and farther a field.
The Kingdom helped link Rome with India
The Kingdom of Aksum was situated in a strategic position in the middle of a large trade route that extended all the way from Rome to India. The empire had previously traded with Arabia and India before the Romans came on the scene, seeking access to the spices, incense, and silks available from the Far East. Trade was conducted via numerous ports along the Red Sea coast.
3. Mali tie
The great Abyssinian or Ethiopian Empire proudly stood from 1137 until 1974, one of the only empires in Africa to last until the late 20th century — many famous rulers included names like Yohannes, Tewodros, Menelik, and Halie Selassie. Most notably, the empire had a strong military that defeated multiple invaders over the centuries including the Italians, leaving Ethiopia with the distinction of the only country in Africa to never fall under colonial influence.
For sheer size, few states in African history can compare to the Songhai Empire. Formed in the 15th century from some of the former regions of the Mali Empire, this West African kingdom was larger than Western Europe and comprised parts of a dozen modern day nations. The empire enjoyed a period of prosperity thanks to vigorous trade policies and a sophisticated bureaucratic system that separated its vast holdings into different provinces, each ruled by its own governor. It reached its zenith in the early 16th century under the rule of the devout King Muhammad I Askia, who conquered new lands, forged an alliance with Egypt’s Muslim Caliph and established hundreds of Islamic schools in Timbuktu. While the Songhai Empire was once among the most powerful states in the world, it later crumbled in the late 1500s after a period of civil war and internal strife left it open to an invasion by the Sultan of Morocco.
Lasting a millennium, the Carthaginian Empire controlled most of North Africa, and parts of what is now Spain, Italy, and France at various times. Based around the Phoenician city-state of Carthage (present-day Tunis), Carthage was known for perpetually fighting wars. Its most brilliant leader and military mind being Hannibal, known for leading his army including war elephants through Europe and across the Alps in a failed attempt to sack Rome by land.
9. Ashanti Empire
The Ashanti Kingdom (also known as Asante) was one of the most prolific Africa has ever seen and reigned over a large part of present-day Ghana all the way down to the Ivory Coast for over 300 years. While the kingdom eventually fell apart in 1957, many of the traditions still live on. In fact, the Ashanti monarchy still continues (in a much smaller form) inside Ghana. From its origins, to its long history, to its rich culture, here are 10 things you didn’t know about the Ashanti Kingdom.
10. Benin Empire