Why did the West Africa trade gold into salt?
They didn't trade gold INTO salt, but they traded gold FOR salt because salt is a preservative and is highly needed to preserve meats. Some countries had many gold mines and no salt mines, so gold was common there and salt was rare. In other countries that had many salt mines and no gold mines, salt was common and gold rare. So if these countries traded salt and gold, then they would make a pretty penny and get the goods they needed (or desired).
One of the biggest needs for salt was to preserve food, particularly meat. Salt was hard to come by in West Africa, but they were able to pan for gold. In North Africa, it was just the opposite. It was easy for them to mine salt, but not gold. Eventually trade routes were set up and West African people regularly traded their gold for salt from the North.
Villagers traded any surplus. Gold was plentiful in present-day Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal. In return West Africans had salt. People need salt to prevent dehydration and there was a heavy abundance of salt in some places. However in places like the savanna, salt was scarce. A block of salt was easily worth its weight in gold.
They began the use of camels for riding and carrying goods. This increased trade frequency.They brought their religion, Islam, to West Africa, as well as salt. Salt was something virtually unavailable in Western Africa, but because of its necessity, the West Africans traded it for gold, which they had a lot of.
The Trans-Sahara trade refers to the trade between West African Kingdoms south of the Sahara and Arab and Amazigh (Berber) Kingdoms on Africa's Mediterranean coast. Some of the goods traded, especially gold, probably traveled as far as Persia and all of Europe. Nomadic Amazigh Tribes, like the Touareg, that knew tha desert were primarily the ones who crossed the Sahara using camels. The main items exchanged were gold from West Africa for salt from the…