Africa’s History

Sabratha Most people have heard of the ancient Egyptians, rulers of the Nile and architects of the famous Giza Pyramids. But have you ever heard of the African country called Rhodesia, the Sahelian kingdom of Mali, or Zanzibar? How about the ancient trade cities of Carthage, Tripoli, or Timbuktu? Or the Berbers, Bantu, Nubians, or people of the Zulu nation?


Throughout history, many civilizations have commingled on the African continent. Africa played a prominent role in the Greek and Roman empires, the Crusades, the Age of Exploration and colonization, and the slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries. Geographers look into the past to discover explanations for the present, and Africa’s unique and tumultuous history can shed light on the major issues that occur there today.

Photograph of a restored theater at the ancient Roman city of Sabratha, in today’s Libya, by Robert Sisson/National Geographic Image Collection.

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