The Mali Empire

Founded by Sundiata Keita, the Mali Empire or the Manden Kurufa was a medieval West African kingdom which was located along the Niger River.

It is now surrounded by modern day African countries such as Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Niger, The Gambia, and Guinea.

King Sundiata established the Mali Empire at around 1235 C.E. after uniting the tribes of Malinke people to go up against the rule of Soso.

As time passed by, Mali Empire became stronger and conquered surrounding kingdoms such as the Kingdom of Ghana.

Himalaya Mountains

Primarily, the Mali Empire was comprised of cultural groups and small kingdoms. All of these tribes pledged allegiance to the empire by offering yearly tributes in the shape of arrows, lances, and millet.

Mali prospered from taxes gathered from its citizens as well as from the goods that were brought to the empire.

As a matter of fact, all the goods that were imported and exported out of the empire were taxed heavily by the government.

Cotton cloth, salt, and gold dust were not only among the most popular goods that were traded but were also used as a currency.

The Mali Empire later used cowrie shells from the Indian Ocean as currency in the internal trade of Western Sahara.

At its peak, the Mali Empire was considered as one of the largest empires in West African history thanks to centralized government and diplomacy that enabled a significant military expansion.

Himalaya Mountains

It became famous for exquisite architecture and top-level learning centers. One of its popular learning centers was the University of Sankore which produced a wide number of talented scholars, astronomers, and engineers.

The Empire of Mali started to fall during the 14th century after it lost control of its borders. It came to an end in 1610 after the rise of the Songhai Empire.

Interesting Facts about the Mali Empire

  • The people of the Mali Empire were divided into castes. Among the most respected castes were the farmers because of their ability to provide food.
  • The Sudan region of West Africa where the Mali Empire developed had been occupied since the Neolithic period as signified by the remains of abandoned villages as well as megaliths and tumuli from the Iron Age.
  • Constant flooding and rainfall within the Niger River provided farmers of the Mali Empire with fertile land for agriculture.
  • Herding cattle and fishing were other essential sources of food for people of the Mali Empire. It also used copper as a primary currency for trade.
  • The Empire of Mali was divided into provinces with a hierarchical organization in which every province is comprised of a Governor while each town had a mochrif or a mayor
  • Islam was a dominant religion in the Mali Empire. It assumed a critical role in the administration. In fact, most of the government administrators were Muslim scribes.
  • Most of what is known about the history of the Empire of Mali was gathered by Arabic scholars in the 13thand 14th
  • Music was an essential component of religious festivals in the Empire of Mali.

What is the capital of the Empire of Mali?

The capital of the Empire of Mali was Niani. Interestingly, King Sundiata, the founder of the Mali Empire was born in Niani.

Who is Mansa Musa?

One of the most popular emperors of the Mali Empire was Mansa Musa who became famous for deciding to make a pilgrimage in Mecca at around 13th century C.E. During his pilgrimage, Mansa Musa brought approximately 60,000 people with him as well as camels that were loaded with gold.

Who is the last king of the Empire of Mali?

The last King of the Empire of Mali was Mansa Mahmud IV.

What are the rulers of the Empire of Mali called?

The ruler of the Empire of Mali is known as Mansa.