Role of Timbuktu as the Market of Gold

Mungo Park
Portrait of the Scottish explorer Mungo Park

Here are the words of the Scottish explorer Mungo Park in 1795 about the great city of Timbuktu, and its central place in the gold trade in Africa, and the world at the time.


Timbuktu is regarded as the gold warehouse of the Manding. It is where the merchants of TunisTripoliFez, Morocco, come to take it [gold] to distribute it in the whole North of Africa. The biggest part of this gold then moves on the Europe. One can observe that the Gold Coast of Guinea, which is thus called only because the trade of the gold dust is done there, is located towards the Manding: but I don’t know if the gold found there was brought from the mountains, through the rivers of the north or those of the south. Maybe through all ; because part of the gold of the Wangara is being sold on the south coast.

Mungo Park, Travels in the Interior Districts of Africa: Performed Under the Direction and Patronage of the African Association, in the Years 1795, 1796, and 1797. Vol. 2, P. 338, Paris, 1800.

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