A fabled city of the Sahara: How much do you know about Timbuktu?

Timbuktu has a reputation in Western society as a distant, mysterious city. But it is a real place, and is back in the news after Tuareg rebels seized the city and implemented sharia. Can you separate Timbuktu's myth from reality?

Where is Timbuktu?

In South America's Amazon basin.


In Mali, at the edge of the Sahara desert.


In Tibet, high in the Kunlun mountain range.


Timbuktu is a myth – it doesn't really exist.


When was Timbuktu founded?

In the 5th century BC


In the 5th century AD


In the 8th century AD


In the 11th century AD


Timbuktu was recently seized by Tuareg rebels. But what people founded the city?

The Mande


The Songhai


The Tuareg


None of the above


The name Timbuktu has become synonymous in the West with remote, mysterious places. But how did Timbuktu get its name?

Its name is that of the leader of the Tuareg tribe that founded the village.


It was named for an old woman who lived there.


The name comes from a rare flower that is only found in the region around the city.


The city was named for a god believed to live in the nearby river.


Timbuktu is located along the banks of what river?

The Gambia River


The Niger River


The Nile


The Senegal River


Timbuktu's golden era was in the 16th century, when it was a major center of trade and learning. About how many students did the city host at its peak?









Like most schools of the time, the education provided at Timbuktu's universities was of a religious bent. What religion was their curriculum built around?









Westerners thought of Timbuktu as a mysterious city of wealth like El Dorado. When did the first Westerner return from the city?









Timbuktu has been a part of many territories and nations. Which of the following nations was Timbuktu NOT a part of?



French Sudan


Mali Federation


Upper Senegal and Middle Niger


Despite its reputation for wealth, Timbuktu is actually a simple town built of clay. Which of these is not a real quote about the city?

"I had a totally different idea of the grandeur and wealth of Timbuktu."


"Is that it?"


"There is a mystery in Timbuktu, but it is something that you can only feel and not see."


"The town looks like an organic part of the desert - a fragment of the Sahara shaped into rectangular blocks, and elevated."


None of the above.