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Map Study List

by Jim Jones (Copyright 2009, All Rights Reserved)


  1. Instructions for the map test
  2. List of locations and items that may appear on the test
  3. Blank practice map of Africa showing national borders


The map test is designed to give you a reason to learn where many of the places in precolonial African history are located. You will find this useful for following class discussion, and it will allow you to complete the assigned readings more quickly and with greater understanding.

Although most people will receive an A on this test, there are always a few who do very poorly and even fail. Afterwards, they say that they did not take the test seriously enough, or they only studied a portion of the names. In order to avoid that, and to enable everyone to do well on the test, the professor offers the following instructions on how to prepare for it:

  1. Print out a copy of a blank map of Africa showing national borders.
  2. Make several photocopies of the map so you can practice.
  3. Using the maps in your books and in the University library, locate each of the items on the following list .

In the past, my map tests have had questions like the following:

  1. Identify the capital of each country (followed by a list of countries).
  2. Name two empires that were based in the Niger River basin.
  3. Which was located farther west, Mali or Songhay?
  4. [Using the map supplied with the test,] identify each of the numbered place names.

In other words, don't just memorize the list of names, learn where they are and what they are. I will not ask you to fill in a blank map, but if you practice that, then you should be able to handle any question I ask.


Akan gold mining region surrounding Kumasi
Aksum Upper Nile Valley civilization
Atbara River major tributary of the Nile
Atlas Mountains separate coastal Morocco and Algeria from the Sahara Desert
Awdughast Ghana's main desert-side trading city
Benin forest state west of the Lower Niger River
Benue River major tributary of the Niger River
Blue Nile River major tributary of the Nile
Cairo city at the south end of the Nile Delta
Cape Verde Islands Atlantic islands near West Africa
Carthage Phoenician city near modern Tunis
Congo-Zaire River river system that drains central Africa
Drakensberg Mountains mountains in southeastern Africa
East African Highlands mountain range from Ethiopia to South Africa
Ethiopia mountainous region at the north end of the East African Highlands
Gao Sahel trading city and capital of Songhay Empire
Ghana empire sahel state based between the Upper Senegal and Upper Niger Rivers
Guinea Coast between the mouths of the Senegal and Congo Rivers
Kalahari Desert desert in southwest Africa
Kanem-Bornu sahel state based near Lake Chad
Kano Sahel Hausa trading city
Kasai River major tributary of the Congo/Zaire River
Kilwa Swahili port city
Kongo kingdom forest state based in the Lower Congo River valley
Kumasi Asante capital in the Akan gold region
Kumbi-Salah capital of the Ghana Empire
Lake Chad inland sea located northeast of the Lower Niger River basin
Lake Kisale center of copper region in the Upper Congo basin
Lake Malawi southernmost major lake in the Rift Valley
Lake Victoria-Nyanza largest lake in the Rift Valley
Limpopo River major south- central river south of the Zambezi
Madagascar largest island near the East African coast
Mali empire Sahel state based in the Upper Niger Valley
Marrakech Almoravid capital in Morocco
Mediterranean Sea I'll bet you can find this without my help.
Meroe kingdom Upper Nile valley state in Nubia
Mogadishu Swahili port city in modern Somalia
Mombasa Swahili port city in modern Kenya
Niger River major West African river
Nubia Upper Nile valley region
Orange-Vaal River major southern Africa river system
Oyo savannah kingdom west of the Niger River
Red Sea separates Egypt and Sudan from Arabia
Rift Valley runs from Ethiopia to Mozambique
Sahel border region between the Sahara Desert and the savannah
Senegal River Sahel river at the west end of Africa
Sokoto city in northwest Nigeria
Somali homeland coastal region between Ethiopia and the "Horn of Africa"
Songhay empire Sahel empire on the Middle Niger River
Sudd swampy region on the White Nile
Tadmekka Sahara copper mines east-northeast of Timbuktu
Timbuktu religious center and trading city in the Sahel
Tripoli Mediterranean port in modern Libya
Walata main desert-side trading city in the Mali Empire
White Nile River major tributary of the Nile
Zambezi River major river in south-central Africa
Zimbabwe Plateau source of gold south of the Zambezi River
Zulu homeland on the southeast African coast south of Swaziland

HIS311, HIS312 or get a Blank map of Africa showing national borders