Top of the Niger Bend, Lakes Region, as Observed during the Gironcourt Mission


This map shows a part of the great bend of the Niger River, the portion of the river east of Timbuktu (also seen as Timbouctou, in present-day Mali) where the Niger heads in a northeasterly direction toward the Sahara Desert before turning south near the town of Bourem and resuming its course toward the Atlantic Ocean. The map was produced by the Gironcourt Mission of 1908‒9, an expedition to the region sponsored by the French government and led by the French engineer and agronomist Georges de Gironcourt (1878‒1960). Mali was at that time part of the territory of Senegambia-Niger, administered by the French as part of the Government-General of West Africa. Gironcourt published an account of his mission in Missions de Gironcourt en Afrique occidentale (1920). The map includes descriptions of the terrain, flora, and geology of the region, and shows the flood plains on the section of the Niger River between Timbuktu and Dounzou (also seen as Doulsou, in present-day Niger). Relief is shown by form lines. The map shows the streams running into the Niger and the lakes and ponds that dot this desert region, many of which contain water for only a part of the year. The main inhabitants of this region are the nomadic Tuareg people. The names of the different Tuareg confederations and their territories are indicated in red. In the south are shown the areas inhabited by the sedentary Sonrai (also Songhai) people. A stamp at the bottom indicates that the map was “Loaned by the American Geographical Society to the Peace Conference at Versailles, 1918-1919.”

Last updated: April 13, 2016