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Trading empire that flourished in West Africa in the 13th–16th centuries. It developed from the state of Kangaba on the upper Niger River and was probably founded before AD 1000. The Malinke inhabitants of Kangaba acted as middlemen in the gold trade in ancient Ghana. Growing in the 13th century under the leadership of Sundiata, it continued to expand in the 14th century and absorbed Gao and Timbuktu. Its boundaries extended to the Hausa people in the east and to Fulani and Tukulor peoples in the west. It eventually outgrew its political and military strength, and many of its subject areas revolted. By c. 1550 it had ceased to be an important political entity.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Mali empire, visit Britannica.com.
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