Western Africa

Mali

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The area that is now Mali has been part of three great pre-colonial empires: The Soninke Kingdom of Ghana first controlled the export trade in gold and slaves, which moved over trans-Saharan routes from the Niger River to North Africa. Its hegemony was then assumed by the Mandinka Empire of Mali, which moved the caravan routes east through Djenné and Timbuktu. Mali’s decline in the 15th century ultimately enabled the Songhai Kingdom to assert its control over the territory and during its hegemony, Djenné and Timbuktu also flourished as cultural meeting places and centers of Islamic scholarship. Mali’s function as a crossroads between northern and western Africa had thus helped develop a rich cultural tradition that promoted the flourishing of mathematics, astronomy, literature, and art. In the early 17th century, a Moroccan army succeeded in crossing the Sahara and easily defeated the Songhai, who did not have firearms, ensuing political chaos and, as a consequence, the disruption of trade. Eventually, new routes were established, but this time directed toward the coast, where Europeans had their trading posts. The Moroccans exiled or executed the Timbuktu scholars, them being a political threat, and dispersed most of the books and manuscripts found in the libraries. Most of the 19th century was characterized by French colonial expansion and by Islamic religious wars that led to the establishment of theocratic states. The southern Sahara was eventually brought under French control and Mali became a part of French West Africa as “French Sudan”. French Sudan achieved independence in 1960 together with Senegal as the Mali Federation. Following Senegal’s withdrawal, it then declared itself the independent Republic of Mali. After a long period of one-party rule, coupled to the writing of a new constitution and the establishment of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state. Nevertheless, another coup d’etat is taking place in Mali in 2020.

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Mali

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Cities in Mali
Bamako

Bamako was initially a small village with few inhabitants along the Niger River. Its urban history began when French settlers arrived by the end of the 19th century and took control of the site. ...

Western Africa
Bamako
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Ségou

The village of Ségou-Koro (there were four villages with the name of Ségou spread out along the right bank of the Niger River) was established in the 17th century and became the first capital of the Bambara Empire. ...

Western Africa
Ségou
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