Facts about Mali Empire

We found 21 facts about Mali Empire

The medieval state of the Mandé peoples

The origins of Mali's empire date back to the early 13th century, when the country's first ruler won a victory at the Battle of Kuolikoro and took control of the trans-Saharan trade routes. Trade made the state rich and powerful. Subsequent conquests allowed it to expand its territory and develop, eventually growing into an empire.

The empire owed much of its splendor and wealth to its ruler, Mansa Musa, who is considered the richest man in history.

Mali Empire
The Mali Empire existed in West Africa from 1235 to 1645.

It was centered around the Manding region (between southern Mali and eastern Guinea). It encompassed most of the western part of the Sudan region - a historical and geographical land in Africa.

By 1350, the empire covered about 1,240,140 square kilometers. It ruled over 400 cities, towns, and villages. At the time, only the Mongol Empire was larger.

The total area of the empire included almost all of the land between the Sahara and the coastal forests, areas of the modern states of Senegal, southern Mauritania, Mali, northern Burkina Faso, western Niger, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and northern Ghana.

It was founded by Sundiata Keita, who later became King Mansa, which in the Mande language means king of kings.

Sundiata is also known as Sogolon Djata (the name Sogolon is borrowed from his mother, the "Buffalo Woman," so called because of her ugliness and hump).

Sudiata Keita established a capital in his home village of Niani, Mali.

Sundiata was a Muslim, but he was eager to exploit the local religion (traditional beliefs and practices) and build his reputation as a man of powerful magic.

In 1235, at the Battle of Koulikoro, Sudiata Kaita defeated the armies of the Soso state, which allowed him to control the trans-Saharan trade routes.

Five years later he conquered the kingdom of Ghana, gaining access to rich gold and salt deposits. Initially, he sent salt, pottery, vessels, jewelry and gold from local mines and slaves to the north by caravans.

Sundiata was not an absolute ruler, as the title he used might suggest, although he had universal power in the empire.

The Mali Empire was probably a federation in which each tribe had a representative on the council.

The first tribes were the Traore, Kamara, Koroma, Konde, and Keita clans. The tribal council supervised the mansa - the king of kings - by issuing his decrees and choosing his successor, who was usually the mansa's brother or sister's son.

Sundiata Kaita died in 1255, probably by drowning.

However, tradition says that he died crossing the Sankarani River, where a reliquary still stands today.

Sundiata had three sons who were heirs to the throne of the Mali Empire.

They were: Mansa Wali Keita, Ouati Keita, and Khalifa Keita. The most famous West African ruler of the empire, Mansa Musa, was Sundiata's grandson.

At its peak, Mali was the largest empire in West Africa.

It greatly influenced the culture of the entire region through the spread of the empire's languages (it was Mandinka language), laws, and customs.

There is a lot of recorded information about the Mali Empire from the 14th century North African historian Ibn Khaldun and two 14th century Moroccan travelers: Ibn Battuta and Leo Africanus.

Another important source of information about the empire is the Mandinka oral tradition, written down by storytellers known as griots.

During the heyday of the Mali Empire, which was in the first half of the 14th century, Mansa Kankana Musa I, also known as Mansa Musa, ruled.

He was the tenth Mansa to reign from 1312 to 1337. He became famous for his expedition to Mecca and Cairo, conquering a number of neighboring countries and leading the country to economic, scientific and cultural prosperity.

Under Mansa Musa, the center of writing was in Timbuktu.

Timbuktu is a city in Mali, on the Niger River. Founded in the late 11th and early 12th centuries, for centuries it was the center of intensive trade between Black Africa (sub-Saharan Africa) - the part of the continent south of the Sahara - and Berber and Islamic North Africa, and through it also with Europe.

In the 14th century, Timbuktu was the richest city in the world, with a university and a rich collection of books. In the 14th century, Timbuktu had five times the population of London at that time.

During Musa's reign, Timbuktu became a center of learning and culture, attracting scholars from the Muslim world, especially historians, jurists, and theologians, who laid the foundation for the still in existence University of Sankore (Sankore Madrasah), a Koranic institution widely known in the Muslim world (along with Al-Azhar in Cairo, Al-Karawijjin in Fez, and the theological schools - madrassas - in Cairo and Córdoba).

There are 150,000 manuscripts in the collections of Timbuktu's private and public libraries.

Some of them date back to the 13th century. Researchers believe there are many thousands more under the sands of the Sahara. Among them are textbooks on mathematics and astronomy, as well as writings on social and economic life in the region during the Golden Age. At the time, Timbuktu was an academic center with 25,000 students.

Because of its illustrious history, it was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1988.

Mansa Musa was a devout Muslim and promoted Islam throughout his empire.

His pilgrimage to Mecca, which he made between 1324 and 1325, brought him fame in North Africa and the Middle East. it was both religious and political.

His route passed through Walata, Tuat (modern Algeria) and Cairo. To finance the journey, Mansa Musa imposed a special tax on his subjects.

He was accompanied on the journey by 60,000 people dressed in brocade (a thick fabric with a raised pattern interspersed with gold or silver thread) and Persian silk. In addition, 12,000 slaves carried gold ingots, and 500 with gold-decorated staffs preceded the traveling ruler on horseback. There were also 80 camels loaded with gold.

By the end of Musa's reign, Sankore University had become an institution with a full academic staff and the largest collection of books in Africa since the Library of Alexandria.

The university had one of the largest libraries in the world with approximately one million manuscripts.

There were three major gold mines within the borders of the Mali Empire.

At the beginning of the 14th century, Mali was the source of almost half of the gold exported to the Old World from the mines of Bambuku, Boure and Galam.

The gold nuggets were the exclusive property of the Manse, and trading them within the borders of the Empire was illegal.

The most common measure of gold in the kingdom was the Mithqāl (4.25 grams of gold).

A major unit of trade in the Mali Empire was salt.

It was as valuable, if not more valuable, than gold in sub-Saharan Africa. A particular source of it in the empire was the salt mines of Taghaza (Ibn Battuta wrote that there were no trees in Taghaza, only sand and salt mines).

Copper was also a valuable commodity, mined in Takedda in the north and exchanged for gold in the south.

The Mali Empire maintained a semi-professional, full-time army to defend its borders. It was a well-organized army with an elite corps of horsemen and infantry in each battalion. The entire nation was mobilized, and each clan was required to provide a certain number of soldiers of fighting age.

The army consisted of 100,000 soldiers, of which 10,000 were cavalry. In addition to weapons, it was equipped with war canoes and ships. Most of the dugout canoes had a structure made of a single log from a single massive tree trunk. They were over-carved.

Weapons were spears and bows with poisoned ironhead arrows. Swords and spears were the preferred weapons of the cavalry. Imperial Mali riders used iron helmets and spiked armor for defense, as well as shields.

Imperial Malian architecture was characterized by Sudano-Sahelian architecture with a Malian sub-style - an example is the Great Mosque at Djenne.

This style is characterized by the use of basic earth materials. Another common, defining feature of Mali's architecture is the protruding wooden supports. Many architectural projects were completed during the reign of Mansa Musa.

Mansa Musa is considered to be one of the richest people in history, although an accurate estimate of his wealth is impossible. It is believed that his fortune may have been around $400 billion (according to Forbes, Bill Gates' fortune is around $79 billion).

During Musa's reign, the Mali Empire was probably the largest gold producer in the world, and his empire reached the height of its glory.

Mansa Musa conquered 24 cities and their surrounding districts. He developed trade and made his wealth from the trade of gold and salt, which reached skyrocketing prices in the Middle Ages.

He also cared for the welfare of his subjects and educated the most talented. He was known for his concern for the poor.

The character of Mansa Musa was used in the fourth and sixth part of Sid Meier's Civilization video games.

He appeared as the leader of the Mali civilization.

Hungry for more facts?

Similar topics

20 facts about Axum Empire
20 facts about Axum Empire
One of the most advanced ancient civilizations
The Axum Empire was one of the most remarkable powers of the ancient world. Located in the northern part of modern Ethiopia and Eritrea, it once domin ...
26 facts about Mohenjo-daro
26 facts about Mohenjo-daro
The mound of the dead men
More than five thousand years ago, in the Indus Valley (now Pakistan), there was a mysterious civilization, called the Indus Civilization. It was one ...
18 facts about Göbekli Tepe
18 facts about Göbekli Tepe
The oldest known cult site
The archaeological site of Göbekli Tepe has changed the way archaeologists think about the beginnings of civilization. The site is considered the olde ...
18 facts about ancient Sumer
18 facts about ancient Sumer
The mysterious people of antiquity
We know little about them, but what we have established makes you dizzy. A people of unknown origin who created a civilization that was the cradle of ...
33 facts about Turkey
33 facts about Turkey
A picturesque country of two continents
The Republic of Turkey is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. It brings joy with picturesque beaches, mild climate, delicious c ...
15 facts about Cerbera odollam
15 facts about Cerbera odollam
Suicide tree
This evergreen tree is planted as an ornamental tree, providing plenty of shade. It has a beautiful appearance and white flowers with a jasmine scent. ...
19 facts about Great spotted woodpecker
19 facts about Great spotted woodpecker
Dendrocopos major
It rarely migrates; rather, it is a bird bound to its roost. It is not a songbird; instead, it makes its presence known by rumbling against the trunk ...
20 facts about Lake Malawi
20 facts about Lake Malawi
The site of the first naval battle of World War I
One of the oldest lakes on earth. It was formed about the same time as Tanganyika Lake, 350 kilometres away. It was formed by the crack of the African ...

Latest topics

20 facts about beer
20 facts about beer
World’s third most popular beverage
It is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages produced. The first archaeological evidence of brewing dates back 13,000 years ago from the territory of I ...
15 facts about StarCraft
15 facts about StarCraft
The computer game classic of the 1990s
For gamers whose childhood and early youth were in the 1990s, StarCraft can evoke nostalgia. This already classic title lived to see a sequel in 2010, ...
12 facts about capybaras
12 facts about capybaras
The world’s largest rodent and social media star
The capybara, the largest rodent known to us today, is an animal with a very pleasant disposition and appearance, living both an aquatic and terrestri ...
20 facts about Amazon River
20 facts about Amazon River
Its basin covers nearly half of South America
In the year 1500, European explorers stumbled upon one of the most remarkable wonders on the planet: the amazing Amazon River. This majestic waterway ...
13 facts about churro
13 facts about churro
A dessert worth the sin
Churros are known to all lovers of Spanish and Latin American cuisine, but few may realize that their genesis, in all likelihood, took place in the Fa ...
29 facts about Colorado
29 facts about Colorado
Centennial State
Colorado is one of the larger American states, bordered by longitude and latitude. The state is famous for its varied landscape of mountains, forests, ...
18 facts about Roland Garros
18 facts about Roland Garros
French pioneer of aviation who played tennis only a few times in his life
Roland Garros was a French aviator who played an important role in the history of aviation. He began his aviation career in 1909 and achieved many aer ...
24 facts about Sri Lanka
24 facts about Sri Lanka
The “Land of Smiles”
Sri Lanka is an island country in the Indian Ocean. Previously, until 1972, both the country and the island on which it lies were known to the world a ...

Similar topics