Development of city-states was aided by the domestication of camels, a fact that allowed West Africa to take its place in the cross-Saharan trade.
The inhabitants of West Africa have been linked throughout history through a dense system of trade routes that have existed in the area since ancient times.
France also controlled extensive territory and unified Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Cфte d'Ivoire, and Niger into French West Africa.
Most religions in West Africa feature a prominent supreme deity understood to be reached through subordinate spiritual powers.
Following World War II, nationalist movements arose across West Africa and many countries fought for independence from colonial rule.
Keita would later form the Mali Empire and subdue the bulk of West Africa under his political authority.
The origins of the drum dates back to the Mandinka peoples, and the historical importance of the drum has cemented its position as a symbol of the entire West African region.
Independence has proven problematic to many West African nations, particularly Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Cфte d'Ivoire, who have been plagued with political corruption and instability.
Militarism also took hold of West Africa with the rise of the Songhai empire, and strong militaristic states also arose in Ife, Bono, and Benin around the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Traditionally, the Djembe drum was popularly played among many West African ethnic groups.
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was founded in 1975 by the Treaty of Lagos.
By utilizing the unique ability of the camel to cross the Sahara, West Africa was able to make contact with Carthage in the north and the Berber people of the Sahara.
Like many parts of the world, soccer is extremely popular in West Africa and the national teams of some West African nations, especially Nigeria, regularly qualify for the World Cup.
Despite the wide variety of cultures in West Africa, from Nigeria through Senegal, there are apparent similarities in dress, cuisine, musical genres and wealth.
West Africa also exhibits a surprisingly unified musical culture, when the sheer size of the area is considered.
Major exports from West Africa included gold, cotton cloth, metal ornaments, and leather goods, which were then exchanged for salt, horses, and textiles.
After West Africa was claimed by colonial powers, Britain emerged as the giant controlling The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Nigeria throughout the colonial era.
The nationalistic movement culminated in 1974, when West Africa's nations were considered entirely autonomous.
Due to the mutable borders of the Sahara, West Africa must be defined more through its cultural identity than perpetually changing artificial boundaries.
Modern permutations of traditional West African religions are found in the proliferation of Islam throughout the region.
The independence of Ghana began a movement throughout West Africa, and was followed the next year by France's colonies.
Prehistory, which is commonly defined as the time when the first human settlers arrived, began in West Africa around 12,000 B.C.E.
Other West African conglomerations also exist throughout the region, including the West African Monetary Union (or UEMOA from its name in French, Union йconomique et monйtaire ouest-africaine).
The borders of West Africa have always been contentious, particularly when it comes to defining the northern border of the territory.
The fall of the Songhai Empire in the late sixteenth century ushered in an era of smaller West African states that drew on European trading contacts to survive.
The first commercially successful process for synthetic emeralds was that of Carroll C. Chatham.
The next hegemonic power to emerge in West Africa was the Songhai Empire in the fifteenth century.