At the beginning of the century XV, when thanks to travelers we have more precise information about the country, the supremacy in western Sudan is divided between the Mandingo and Songhai empires, the former predominant between the Sahara in the north and the equatorial forest in the south, between the Atlantic in the west and the 3 ° long. O., to the east; the second between the Sahara and a line between Hombori and Karimama in lower Niger, and between the 3rd and the merid. 0 °. The power of the Songhai then reached its apogee with the dynasty founded by the Muslim Saracen general Mamadu Ture, or Muḥammad aṭ-Ţūrī, who was invested with the name of aski ā Muḥammad, and reigned from 1493 to 1529, while his dynasty lasted, in all, a century. He was the enlightened ruler, who organized the army; under his good government, admired by the African Lion who visited his kingdom in 1507, they had the flower and fame of intellectual centers and places, including mainly Timbuktu, whose school of law, for example, produced a remarkable literature in the sixteenth centuries and XVII. The aski ā Muḥammad, whose Muslim piety and good works are also celebrated, made the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1497, and on the occasion of the trip he met the most famous Muslim scholars of the time, including the Egyptian as-Suyūṭī. The power of the Songhai empire, which had also attempted to extend, with less luck, into a Haussa country in central Sudan, was to be overthrown by Morocco, whose sultan Ahmad adh-Dhahabī, of the ḥásanī sheriffs, after his first army of 20,000 men sent to conquer the salt flats of the Teghaza region, he was defeated, he sent a second expedition led by Giawdar Pascià; he, who was a Spanish renegade like most of his soldiers, in 1591 won the strong army of the aski ā Isḥāq II then entering Gao and establishing his residence in Timbuktu. From him begins the domination of the Moroccan pashas, which however depended only nominally on Morocco, and often did not even know Arabic, speaking Spanish and then more and more Songhai. The tyranny, which was such, of these princelings who surrendered more and more both to the Bambara blacks (see below) and to the Tuareg, until their lordship was reduced only over Timbuktu, definitively ceased with the entry (1894) of the French into this city. (V. joffre).
In the meantime, the Bambara peoples, taking advantage of the weakening of the Songhai empire produced by the Moroccan assault, had formed towards the middle of the century. XVII two kingdoms, that of Segu (which in 1670 with the king Biton Kulubali gave the last blow to the Mandingo empire reducing it to a few territories in upper Niger and upper Gambia) and that of Kaarta. In Masina then, a fulbè marabout, Seku Hamadu, took possession of Dienné in 1810 and replaced his influence with that of the Bambara king of Segu; but then all, Bambara and Fulbè, must yield to the dominance, after all, of the Toucouleur people (see above). In Futa Toro the negro toucouleurs already Muslims for six centuries, the pagan Fulbè win and towards 1770 they constitute a theocratic state that lasted until 1881, date of annexation of the country to French Senegal. From this Muslim toucouleur center move ‛Osmān (‛ Uthmān). Dan Fōdio, who conquered the Haussa country, where he founded a great toucouleur empire (see below), then al-Ḥāǵǵ ‘Omar, toucouleur of the caste that had most contributed to the constitution of the state of Futa Toro, and head of the Tigiāniyyah brotherhood. He, after the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1820 (on his return from which he stopped at the main sovereigns of central Sudan, such as Kanemī, master of Bornu, and Moḥammed Bello, then head of the other Toucouleur empire, the one founded by ‛Osmān Dan Fōdio in Haussa country) gathered an army in Futa Giallon and elsewhere and conquered a large empire, which included the territory of the two aforementioned Bambara kingdoms and other states.
After his violent death in 1864, his children and relatives left by him at the head of the individual conquered kingdoms fell into discord, while the populations oppressed by the toucouleur yoke rebelled. The French conquest (Segu 1890, Nioro 1891, Bandiagara 1893) put an end, to their relief, to the tyranny of the family of al-Ḥāǵǵ ‘Omar.
In addition to these major peoples of western Sudan, Saracole, Mandingo, Songhai, Mossi, Bambara, Fulbè, Toucouleur, others also constitute minor states, whose history it is not possible to mention here; like the Uolof, the Serer, the Fula with their state of Futa Giallon. To the south-east of this follow primitive populations, also anthropophagous, and then, from Bandama to Volta, groups of more advanced peoples, including the Ascianti who had a powerful reign that lasted from 1700 to 1895; and even more to the east, others of very remarkable intellectual qualities, including the residents of Dahomey, the Noupé, the Benin.