Infobox Settlement
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imagesize =250px
image_caption =La Dune Rose and Gao city as seen from the top of the Tomb of Askia.

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pushpin_map_caption =Location within Mali
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subdivision_type = Country
subdivision_name = MLI
subdivision_type1 = Region
subdivision_name1 = Gao
subdivision_type2 = Cercle
subdivision_name2 = Gao
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elevation_m =226
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population_as_of =2005
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population_total =57989
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Gao is a city in Mali and capital of the Gao Region on the River Niger, with a population of 57,978 in 2005.Communiqué du Conseil des ministres du 3 janvier 2007]


Through much of its history, Gao was a center of trade and learning, and was capital of Songhai Empire. It is similar to, and culturally connected with the great Trans-Saharan trade cities of Timbuktu and Djenne. The city was founded around the seventh century as "Kawkaw", its first recorded monarch being Kanda, who founded the Za dynasty of what became the Songhai Empire. He ensured the city’s growth by allowing trans-Saharan traders to visit and Berbers to settle. Trade increased after Za Kossoi converted to Islam in 1009.

The Mali Empire conquered Gao sometime before 1300, but Ali Golon re-established Songhai rule. A distinguished author of the period, Al-Idrissi, described it as a "populous, unwalled, commercial and industrial town, in which were to be found the produce of all arts and trades necessary for its inhabitants". Tim Insoll from St. John's College, Cambridge University, carried out important excavations in Gao. Some of his finds have been on display at the British Museum. Particularly intriguing was an exhibit entitled: "Fragments of alabaster window surrounds and a piece of pink window glass, Gao 10th - 14th century."

Under Ali the Great in the late fifteenth century the city became centre of an empire, with about 70,000 residents and a 1,000-boat navy, but Gao was largely destroyed by the Moroccan invasion of 1591. The town remained small until French rule was imposed in the early twentieth century, expanding the port and establishing a colonial base.


The population of Gao mostly speak Songhay but includes many ethicities, including the Bozo (traditionally nomadic river dwellers), Fulfulde/Fulani cattle herders, and Tuareg nomads, as well as Bambara peoples from western Mali.

The seventh "Festival des arts et cultures songhay" was celebrated in February 2007 at Gao, reflecting ithe cities importance as a Songhay cultural capital. [ Festival des arts et cultures Songhay: Un facteur d’épanouissement de la région de Gao, Les Echos du 14 février 2007]


Attractions in Gao include the original fourteenth century Gao Mosque, the Askia Tomb (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) built in 1495 and incorporating another mosque, a museum devoted to the Sahel, markets including a night market, and La Dune Rose, a sand dune named for its appearance at dawn and nightfall.


Gao has an international airport (Gao International Airport), and is linked to cities along the Niger, including Timbuktu, by a ferry service. While for centuries a transit and trade hub, the tourist industry, especially serving cruises of the Niger River, has also become important to the local economy.


A number of villages (including Bakal) are along the outskirts of Gao, in the Gao district.


The stadium "Stade Kassé Keïta" is in Gao, and was opened for 2002 African Cup of Nations.

Twin Cities

Gao is twinned with Thionville, France and Berkeley, California, USA.


Translation of [ French Wikipedia Aricle] .

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