The geography, trade, technology, religion, and cultural aspects contributed the development of tropical Africa and Asia during the1200-1500 era. Southern Arabia, and most of Africa, India, and Southeast Asia lie between the tropics of Capricorn and Cancer. New empires such as, Mali and the Delhi Sultanate were consolidated under the Islamic faith and cultures. Under its rule, these societies were able to expand their trade and advanced in technological developments.
Both Mali and the Delhi Sultanate lied in the tropical zone of Africa and Asia. Lacking the hot and cold seasons of temperate lands, the two empires have their own cycle of rainy and dry season caused by the monsoons. They were the largest and richest tropical states. Both utilized Islamic administrative and military systems. Mali was founded by an indigenous African dynasty that had adopted Islam through the peaceful influence of Muslim merchants and scholars. The Delhi Sultanate on the other hand, was founded and invaded by Turkic and Afghan Muslims. However both empires and many others like Zimbabwe, recognised that Islam suited their needs and adopted it. Under Muslim rule, trades prospered in the Indian Ocean Maritime Network and the Trans-Saharan trade. In spite of the Delhi Sultanate’s shortcomings, it has set the framework for a true Indian bureaucracy and gave Islam a definite influence in Southeast Asia.
With the rise of Islam in Africa and Asia, new cultural steps were taken. The most significant one is that of literacy. The Arabic language, in addition to Persian and the new Persian-influenced Urdu languages were being spread. Timbuktu and Delhi became important centres for Muslim learning, both creating a profitable book trade.
Increased wealth brought increased trade along the Indian Ocean Maritime Network from 1200 to 1500. A popular ship of the Arabian Sea was the dhow. It used the northeast monsoon winds to sail west from India to Arabia and Africa and return on the southwest wind. Chinese Junks was another popular ship. It maintained a higher sphere of influence in SE Asia and China. Trade along Indian Ocean was decentralised and cooperative. Swahili Coast provided gold from East Africa. The Swahili coast was deeply enriched by the culture that surrounded it, both in material wealth and language.
The primary changes into this time period have to do with religion and the structure of government. Islam proved to have a vital role in many societies of the Tropics, both through force and trade. Governments during this time period have changed to be more unified. It was the dis-unification of India that allowed the Muslims to attack, and it was unification that ensured the existence of each of the empires. Unification both through religion and government appeared to be a vital force.