Timbuktu: The faraway land


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Timbuktu

Mains level: NA

Timbuktu is a western African city whose name is a metaphor for a place too exotic and remote to even imagine, now is in the grasp of Covid-19.

Try this question from CSP 2018:

Q.Very recently, in which of the following countries have lakhs of people either suffered from severe famine/acute malnutrition or died due to starvation caused by war/ethnic conflicts?

(a) Angola and Zambia

(b) Morocco and Tunisia

(c) Venezuela and Colombia

(d) Yemen and South Sudan


  • Timbuktu is a city in Mali, situated 20 km north of the Niger River.
  • The mystique of Timbuktu owes a lot to its inaccessibility, which continues even today.
  • It is located on the southern tip of the Sahara desert where there is nothing but thousands of miles of barren desert to its north.
  • It was a regional trade centre in medieval times, where caravans met to exchange salt from the Sahara Desert for gold, ivory, and slaves from the Sahel, which could be reached via the nearby Niger River.

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