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Market Economies (Pre-European): 1400 to 1900: Africa

Stefano Bellucci

The market is the physical and theoretical place for the exchange of goods, services, and work. A market economy is a social system predicated on the trade of goods and services through barter or money. In the period preceding the colonial division of Africa by Europe, between 1400 and 1900, several African societies were built on mercantile activities. These centuries can be defined as a period of development of the market economy in Africa, albeit through external influences, such as the global expansion of western capitalism or through internal processes linked to technological improvement leading to surplus production. African market economies have ranged in size and nature according to the region or the historical period. There are differences, for example, between north Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, between the time of the slave trade and the 19th century, between agricultural and trading economies, and so forth. The minimum common denominators that ...

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