The Mandinka, Malinke (also known as Mandinko) are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa with an estimated population of eleven million (the other 3 major ethnic groups in the region being the non-related Fula, Hausa and Songhai).

They are the descendants of the Mali Empire, which rose to power under the rule of the great Mandinka king Sundiata Keita. The Mandinka in turn belong to West Africa’s largest ethnolinguistic group, the Mandé, who account for more than twenty million people (including the Dyula, Bozo, Bissa and Bambara).

The Mandinka live primarily in West Africa, particularly in The Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Guinea Bissau, Niger, Mauritania and even small communities in the central African nation of Chad. Although widespread, the Mandinka do not form the largest ethnic group in any of the countries in which they live except The Gambia.

Text adapted from Wikipedia’s article on the Mandinka Peoples

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