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date: 18 October 2018

Abstract and Keywords

This article notes that three historical processes shaped the origins, development, and proliferation of towns, as well as the ideas, practices, and institutions of social complexity, in West Africa’s rainforest belt. First was the socio-political expansion necessitated by millennium-long population increases, growth of farming communities, and the quest for agricultural land. Second were the towns that developed on major trading routes taking advantage of external commercial relations, and third, the convergence of socio-political expansion and external economic opportunities. This discussion emphasises the importance of towns in the cultural history of the region, as well as the impacts of rainforest ecology on the character of these towns and states.

Keywords: rainforest belt, West Africa, rainforest ecology, social complexity, agricultural land, farming communities

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