Situated on the northernmost region of the country of the Republic of Mali
is the region of Tombouctou. The region is primarily composed of the southwestern region of the Sahara desert, which is considered as the largest and hottest desert in the world. While this may be the case, the region of Tombouctou served as an oasis particularly to merchants who took part of the trans-Sahara trade route between African merchants and those coming from the Mediterranean. At one point in time, Tombouctou was responsible in making the country of Mali as one of the foremost controlling powers of the trans-Sahara trade route.
Today, Tombouctou is known as one of the intellectual centers in the African continent. It is, after all, the home of the prestigious University of Sankore, one of the most prominent Islamic universities in the world and often regarded as West Africa’s counterpart of Oxford University.
The region of Tombouctou is more popularly known among travelers for the ancient city of Timbuktu
. Each year, travelers flock to visit this city that continues to take pride not only for its rich cultural heritage, but more so for its intellectual heritage. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the city of Timbuktu served not only as the spiritual center of Islam in Africa. More importantly, it was the center of propaganda movements that were responsible for the spread of the religion of Islam in Africa.
Today, the entire region of Tombouctou is considered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However, due to the shifting sands brought about by the Sahara, continuous efforts have been undertaken to preserve the riches of this integral region in the country of Mali.