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Mali is located in the western part of Africa, straddling the Sahara Desert and the region of the Sahel to the immediate south. As the Nile is to Egypt, the Niger River is the lifeblood of Mali, winding its way from the south, northeastward to Timbuktu and then east to Niger.
Once one of the great centers of Islamic culture and wealth, Mali owes much of its reputation to its strategic location as a major trading center and to the tax levied on its trans-Saharan route. The Mali Empire reached its zenith under the rule of Mansa Musa in the early 14th century. Previously it had been part of the empire of Ghana, which flourished between the seventh and 11th centuries based on the trade of salt from the interior for gold from the coastal regions. After the decline of the Mali Empire, the territory became part of the Songhai Empire, which occupied an area covering parts of modern-day Guinea, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Nigeria. Songhai came to an end when its territory was usurped by the Moroccan invasion of 1591. With declining trans-Saharan trading routes, the area held little strategic importance and was divided into small kingdoms for the next two centuries until the arrival of French colonists when it was absorbed into French West Africa in 1895. In 1960, together with what is now Senegal, it achieved independence as the Federation of Mali, although Senegal seceded after a few weeks.
One of Mali's greatest assets is its diverse peoples, among them the Peul, Bambara, Fulani, Dogon, Bozo, Bella and Tuareg all living in harmony. This cultural mix has given rise to unique forms of art, music, craftsmanship and literature. ... Click Here for more.                 Click Here for a Map of Mali.
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