Timbuktu (Timbouctou) is a once prominent city on the Niger River in the modern West African country of Mali, known as the African Eldorado. It was a city populated by the Songhay, Tuareg, Fulani, and Moorish people. It was founded by the Tuareg sometime after 1000 A.D. and became a center of Islamic learning. It fell into decline when the Spanish invaded. It has never recovered its former glory. Due to desertification of the sub-Sahara, the city's once flourishing gardens have shrivelled. Water must be irrigated by aqueducts from further downstream, leading to occasional civil disturbances over the rationing of water and basic sewage disposal. The city is made of mud and has annual problems with sand, which will make the city disappear if no one acts quickly.
The Earth and Its Peoples A Global History, Bulliet et al, 2005.