:This article is about the Malian city. For other uses, see Timbuktu (disambiguation).
Timbuktu, Timbuctu or Timbuctoo (Koyra Chiini: Tumbutu, French: Tombouctou) is a city populated by the Songhay, Tuareg, Fulani, and Moorish people in the West African country of Mali. It is often said to lie on the River Niger, but is actually 15 km north of the river.
Its geographical setting made it a natural meeting point for nearby African populations and nomadic Berber and Arab peoples from the north. Its long history as a trading outpost that linked west Africa with Berber, Arab, and Jewish traders throughout north Africa, and thereby indirectly with traders from Europe, has given it a fabled status, and in the West it was for long a metaphor for exotic, distant lands: "from here to Timbuktu." Timbuktu's most long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization is scholarship. By at least the fourteenth century, important books were written and copied in Timbuktu, establishing the city as the center of a significant written tradition in Africa.