The Kingdom of Mali

Dylan, Austin, and Monica

Quick Overview:

Ghana flourished for several hundred years. Weakened by wars, it collapsed during the 1100s. In its place rose new trading states in West Africa. The greatest was Mali, established in the mid-1200s by Sundiata Keita. He created a strong government and united people. Each village had a local ruler, who served as both religious and administrative leader. The ruler was responsible for sending tax revenues from the village to the kings of Mali.

Economic Activity:

Extending from the Atlantic coast inland to the famous trading city of Timbuktu, present-day Tombouctou, Mali built its wealth and power on the gold and salt trade. Most of its people, however, were farmers who grew grains such as sorghum, millet, and rice. Everywhere he went, king Mansa Mūsā lavished gold gifts on his hosts and bought hundreds of items with gold. By putting so much gold into circulation in such a short time, he caused its value to fall.

Climate

Rainy season lasts from June to October. The winter season is between October and February, which is followed by extremely hot and dry climate till June. Depending upon the latitudes, Mali climate differs from one place to another. Northern Sahara zone in Mali experiences hot and dry climate whereas the climate of Mali in the subtropical southern part is hot and humid. The climate in Mali is hot with average temperatures ranging between 24° and 32°C. The amount of rainfall also varies throughout the year. The northern region of Mali experiences very less rainfall, whereas the southern part experiences heavy downpour, which lasts from June to October.

Culture:

Timbuktu, an important city in Mali, became one of the major cultural centers not only of Africa but of the entire world. Vast libraries and Islamic universities were built.

Religion: most of the rulers of Mali were Muslim. Islam was introduced by traders who brought not only material goods but a new religion. The most famous haji (pilgrim to Mecca) was by Mansa Musa, king of Mali, and grandson of one of Sundjata’s sisters. In 1324, he rode more than 3,000 miles across the desert to Mecca, accompanied by some 60,000 escorts, including his senior wife.

Language: Linguistic diversity was a characteristic of the ancient Mali Empire. In fact, the political structure of the Mali Empire perpetuated that linguistic diversity: peoples were organized into kingdoms that retained their own leaders provided they paid tribute and swore loyalty to the mansa, or leader, of the Mali Empire. The name "Mali" originates in one of the languages of the Western Sudan. "Mali" comes from the name of the ethnic group Malinke. The Malinke organized the resistance movement against rule by the southern Soninke, who were dominant in the Ghana Empire. The Arabic language was introduced to the Western Sudan as a result of trade.

Political Boundaries:

Extending from the Atlantic coast inland to the famous trading city of Timbuktu. Mansa Musa eventually doubled the size of Mali. Divided the land into provinces that were ruled by his appointed governors.
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Topography:

An interesting aspect of Mali geography is that the entire country is situated on a plateau. The geographical position of Mali upon a tableland gives it a very flat surface. There is a narrow coastal plain bordering plain along the banks of the River Niger. The southern part of Mali has a hilly terrain.

Extending from the Atlantic coast inland to the famous trading city of Timbuktu, present-day Tombouctou The Mali Empire was strategically located between the West African gold mines and the agriculturally rich Niger River floodplain