Timbuctoo is a town on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert in northern Africa and was founded by Moslem traders over a thousand years ago. The town became famous as a market for salt and gold, and by the 14th century its fame became known in Europe, and Timbuctoo rose to great splendour.
In 1590 the riches and resources of Timbuctoo aroused the greed of the ruler of Morocco who sent an army across the Sahara which captured the city. For two hundred years afterwards there was misrule and tribal warfare during which the town fell into ruins and the population decreased rapdly. Much later in 1853, Timbuctoo was captured by the Tuareg, who were one of the fiercest tribes in the Sahara Desert. In the 19th century Britain and France became interested in Timbuctoo and in 1853 an effort was made to bring it under British protection, but this came to nothing. Then in 1881 the French moved eastwards from Senegal to begin the conquest of the lands of the Niger bend - Timbuctoo is connected to the great River Niger by branch channels. However, when the French arrived in Timbuctoo they found it a vast ruin and its population in terror of raiders from the surrounding tribes.
Timbuctoo started to regain its prosperity under French control and became a major centre for trade. Later, an airfield was built and the town became a regular stopping place on the bus route crossing the Sahara on the way to the North African coast.
Timbuctoo (sometimes spelt Timbuktu or Timbuktoo) is in the West African nation of Mali.
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