Songhai, Mali and Ghana were medieval realms that flourished and declined in West Africa. These kingdoms primarily controlled trade through their vast deposits of gold and salt.
The Ghana Empire, which rose in present-day Mauritania and Mali, preceded the Songhai and Mali kingdoms. Although the cause of Ghana's decline is somewhat vague, some historians believe that the fall was due to the constant threat of foreign invasion coupled with internal conflicts.
The kingdom of Mali thrived after the Ghanaian empire lost its power. Mali prospered through trading activities, involving its extensive supply of gold, salt and copper. The death of Mansa Musa, considered to be Mali's greatest leader, lead to the collapse of the empire.
The Songhai Empire grew in power after Mali's decline. Two of its prominent rulers were Askia Mohammed Toure and Sunni Ali Ber. The kingdom fell due to the invasion of the Moroccan military forces.