The Mandinka (also known as Mandingo) are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa with a population estimated at eleven million . A Mandén people, they are the descendants of the great Empire of Mali, which rose to power under the rule of the great Mandinka king Sundiata Keita.
The Mandinka live primarily in West Africa, particulaly in the The Gambia, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Guinea Bissau and even small communities in the central African nation of Chad. One curious fact about the Mandinka people is that despite having an estimated eleven million members, they do not form the largest ethnic group in any of the countries they live, except of the Gambia.
Mandinkas speak the Mandinka language which is similar to Bambara or Soninke. The Mandinka language is spoken in nine African nations by approximately eleven million people. Although their language has no written script, their oral literature is regarded as some of the best in the world. Closely related peoples include all the western Mandé, and most specially the Dyoula people, whom are sometimes clasified as a subgroup of the Mandinka, especially in Cote D'Ivoire and the Kong highlands of Burkina Faso.