~The Mali Empire, also historically referred to as the Manden Kurufaba, was an empire in West Africa that lasted from c. 1230 to 1600. It was the largest empire in West Africa and profoundly influenced the culture of the region through the spread of its language, laws, and customs along lands adjacent to the Niger River, as well as other areas consisting of numerous vassal kingdoms and provinces.
~Modern oral traditions recorded that the Mandinka kingdoms of Mali or Manden had already existed several centuries before unification. This area was composed of mountains, savanna, and forest providing ideal protection and resources for the population of hunters. Those not living in the mountains formed small city-states.
~The combined forces of northern and southern Manden defeated the Sosso army at the Battle of Kirina in approximately 1235. This victory resulted in the fall of the Kaniaga kingdom and the rise of the Mali Empire.
~The Mali Empire covered a larger area for a longer period of time than any other West African state before or since. What made this possible was the decentralized nature of administration throughout the state. Its power came, above all, from trade.
~The Mali Empire reached its largest size and flourished as a trade and intellectual center under the Laye Keita mansas (1312–1389). The empire’s total area included nearly all the land between the Sahara Desert and the coastal forests.
~The 1599 battle of Djenné marked the effective end of the great Mali Empire and set the stage for a plethora of smaller West African states to emerge.