French Sudan joined with Senegal in 1959, achieving independence in 1960 as the Mali Federation. Shortly thereafter, the Sudanese Republic declared itself the independent Republic of Mali.
At its peak, it was one of the largest states in African history. The state is known by its historiographical name, derived from its leading ethnic group and ruling elite, the Songhai.
Timbuktu started out as a seasonal settlement and became a permanent settlement early in the 12th century. After a shift in trading routes, Timbuktu flourished from the trade in salt, gold, ivory, and slaves.
It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered to be among the oldest urbanized centers and the best-known archaeology site in sub-Saharan Africa.
Ounjougou has yielded the earliest pottery found in Africa, and is believed to be one of the earliest regions (along with East Asia) in which the independent development of pottery occurred.