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The following information in regard to the little known city of Timbuctoo was lately obtained by the Geographical Society of Oran, Algeria, from an Israelite of Morocco, who was on his way from Timbuctoo to Paris. The Rabbi described Timbuctoo as an Arab town in every sense of the term, built absolutely like all those of the interior. The inhabitonts are Foulahinegroes, and there are no whites. There are, however, sometimes Jews from North Afrca, who come to trade, but they never settle thei'e. The town is at about an hour.s distance to the mouth of the Niger. Its population is about 50,000. It is larger than Oran (about six miles round), but not so large as Marseilles. The town is, in fact, a mass of villages, extending over a very considerable area. The Niger, which passes to the south of the town, flows from the west to the south-west, and is very broad ; there is an abundance of fish. Navigation is carried on by means of oared barges and rafts, constructed of pieces of wood bound together by cords. The blacks call the Niger the Nile, or “El Bar” (Arab.. “The sea”). The river is subject to regular floodings, which fertilize the lands its banks, the only ones which are able cultivaton ; the inundation reaches the walls of the town. The country is very fertile : the crops are sorgho, millet, rice, tomato, onions, turnips; indigo grows wild. There are also many cocoanut trees, gum 'trees, and a tree which produces oil, which the natives use for lighting. There are also forests of valuable timber trees. The country is governed by a Marabout, who takes the - title of Sultan ; the present ruler is named Mohamet-el-Bekai. He does xxot reside at Timbuctoo ; his capital is Ahmet Ella, a town of about 100,000 souls, situated twelve leagues from Timbuctoo. The road connecting the two towns is covered with villages and gardens. The town of Timbuctoo is under the command of a Cadi, who has a very great authority, and who has under his orders a Tax Collector, also very powerful. The Sultan has no army, but when fighting is necessary, everybody is a soldier. They are armed with bows and arrows ; only the chiefs have guns, pistols and sabres. Trade is carried on principally by barter or by means of cowries. Caravans bring cotton and linen goods, glass trixxkets, mirrors, arms, swords, guns, pistols (generally of English manufactui'e), knives, needles, etc. Salt is a voxy valuable import, a slave often being given for a kilogram or two. The caravans take back loads of the grain of the country, rice, sorgho, millet, ostrich feathers, gum, ivory, gold dust, lead, copper etc. Trade in slaves is carried on on a very large scale. To the north of Timbuctoo many camel are reared ; to the south the people wander about with herds of sheep and cattle.

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Bibliographic details

Ashburton Guardian, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 129, 22 July 1880

Word Count

THE CITY OF TIMBUCTOO —AN ARAB TOWN THAT HAS NEGRO INHABITANTS. Ashburton Guardian, Volume 1, Issue 129, 22 July 1880