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The west African country of Mali has an ancient and fascinating history that informs who and what the country and its people is today. Mali has geographic features, ethnic groups and cultures, plus plant and animal life that combine to make it an interesting place to visit.

. The prime meridian marker is located in Gao, Mali. Here you can literally stand on the edge of two different hemispheres at the same time.

. The prime meridian marker is located in Gao, Mali. Here you can literally stand on the edge of two different hemispheres at the same time.

. Historically Mali was part of three different West African empires that controlled all the trans-Saharan trade.

. Settled as long ago as 50,000 B.C., its Ghana, Songhai and Mali empires saw mathematics, literature, art and astronomy flourish.

. Mali’s Ghana Empire was West Africa’s first black empire. The empire’s wealth came mainly from the country’s position in the cross-Sahara trade routes.

. Sundiata, Mali’s Lion King (or Lion Prince) was the founder and first ruler of the Mali Empire from which the country today takes its name. In his reign from 1235 to 1260 the empire stretched all the way to the western coast of Africa.

. When the Malian Empire’s 14th century emperor, Mansa Musa, made his impressive pilgrimage to Mecca, he traveled with over 70,000 people and up to 50 pounds of gold. He built a mosque every Friday on his entire trip.

Source: The fact File