Mande

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Mande

(män`dā), language group, W Africa, including the Malinke, Dyula, Marka, Mende, Bambara, and Soninke subgroups. The Mande-speakers today number about 3 million and live mainly in Senegal, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. Their societies are patrilineal, and most practice sedentary agriculture and profess Islam. The Mande probably originated in the region of the upper Niger River, and they formed numerous states based on trade. The Soninke founded the ancient empire of GhanaGhana
, ancient empire, W Africa, in the savanna region of what is now E Senegal, SW Mali, and S Mauritania. The empire was founded c.6th cent. by Soninke peoples and lay astride the trans-Saharan caravan routes. Its capital was Kumbi Salih (in present-day SE Mauritania).
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 (7th–13th cent.), and the Malinke established the empire of Mali (13th–16th cent.). Mande traders were important in spreading Islam in W Africa.