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Caravan trade and routes in the northern Sudan in the 19th century: a study in historical geography

Ahmed, Hassan Abdel Aziz (1967) Caravan trade and routes in the northern Sudan in the 19th century: a study in historical geography. Masters thesis, Durham University.



Trade is an important aspect of the economic geography of any country and during the 19th century trade in the Sudan laboured under peculiar difficulties. A harsh physical environment, presenting many difficulties, not least the absence of water, was associated with economic backwardness and political unrest. Thus in the 19th century trade was still limited to certain basic natural products, such as gum and ivory which had been articles of trade from earliest times . Further development was curtailed by a scarcity of capital, the absence of a standard currency, heavy and arbitrary taxation associated with administrative incompetence and short-sighted monopolistic policies. Underlying many of these problems was the absence of a cheap and efficient means of transport. As a result of physical barriers along the Nile in form of cataracts, trade routes were forced to cross barren deserts and hence the only mode of transport available was the camel. Slow and temperamental, this beast possessed only a limited carrying capacity and this fact, together with the nature of the routes followed, to a great extent determined the type of articles which could be transported. All fragile and bulky goods were necessarily excluded, and for export, traders of necessity concentrated an those products with a high value per unit weight, such as perfumes, spices and cotton goods. In addition to this trade in high value materials there was internal trade consisting mainly of provisions dealing which tended to be seasonally variable and relatively localised. Throughout the 19th century in an attempt to stimulate trade successive governments resorted to various schemes, attempting to improve communications and develop agricultural resources so as to diversify the articles available for export. These were some short-term successes but in general most of these attempts were a failure because of a singular lack of overall economic planning and the high cost and inadequacy of transport.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1967
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:11

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