'Sankoré Mosque north of the city built in the eleventh century, now invaded by sand'
Timbuktu is a town in Mali (West Africa) 15 km north of the River Niger on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. The town is surrounded by sand dunes and the streets are covered in sand. Population: 55000 (2009). The only trading involves slabs of rock salt brought from mining centers in the central Sahara.
Exterior view of the Sankoré mosque in the city of Timbuktu, also known as the city of three hundred thirty three Saints.
In the 15th and 16th century Timbuktu flourished from the trade in salt, gold, ivory and slaves. In this Golden Age the city, with its numerous Islamic scholars and libraries, was known as an important scholarly centre in Africa. At the end of the 16th century a long period of decline set in. At present Timbuktu is impoverished and suffers from desertification.
Aerial view Timbuktu
next episode: From Here To Timbuktu