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Timbuktu Ė just that one word conjures up images. Timbuktu is often used as an expression when trying to describe the most remote, distant part of the world. Many people donít realise that Timbuktu is an actual city, located in Mali on the southern fringes of the Sahara Desert. Strategically positioned on the Niger River along what was known as the trans-Saharan trade route, Timbuktu once thrived as a city of commerce. Slabs of salt mined from the north were traded for gold and slaves brought up river from the south. Beads, also of great value, were traded for gold, palm oil and sometimes slaves.
Along with the great wealth and fame from the trade route, Timbuktu emerged as an important center for education. People came from as far away as Saudi Arabia to study at Timbuktuís mosques, trade guilds, universities and extensive libraries. Some of these buildings still stand today, although they are a mere echo of their greatness attained during the golden reign of the Songhai Empire from the 14th through 16th century. Timbuktuís wealth and importance declined nearly 400 years ago as alternate routes were found. When European merchants found easier ways to reach West African coastal cities on ships, arduous trips through the desert were no longer necessary. ... Click here for more.
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