Inner Niger Delta

Delta Intérieur du Niger
Inland Niger Delta 2007.jpg
Inland Niger Delta
LocationSahel area of central Mali
Coordinates15°12′N 4°6′W / 15°12′N 4°6′W / 15.200; -4.100
Area4,119,500 ha (15,905 sq mi)
Official nameDelta Intérieur du Niger
Designated1 February 2004
Reference no.1365[1]

The Inner Niger Delta, also known as the Macina or Masina,[2] is the inland delta of the Niger River. It is an area of fluvial wetlands, lakes and floodplains in the semi-arid Sahel area of central Mali, just south of the Sahara desert.

Location and description

The delta consists of the middle course of the Niger River, between the bifurcated Niger and its tributary, the Bani, which from here run north towards the desert. The Niger is the longest river in West Africa. Towns such as the river-port of Mopti, Sévaré and Djenné, with its mud-brick Great Mosque lie in the 400 km-long region.

The Fulani and Dogon inhabit the Macina region and the surrounding area, which has a population of over 500,000. Most of the year the area has a hot and dry climate, with hot winds from the nearby Sahara raising the temperature up to 40°C. During the wet season, which lasts from July to September but lasts longer the further south one goes, the swamp floods into a lake and naturally irrigates the land. When the dry season comes, the Macina turns into a network of lakes and channels. Cattle, pearl millet, and rice are its important agricultural products. The Macina inland delta also provides water and fish for the Malians living there and during the wet season is a haven for large numbers of birds.

Due to its proximity to the widening Sahel, there have been concerns that the Macina may be getting less rain every year.

In the early 19th century, Seku Amadu founded a Massina Empire in the region, building a capital at Hamdullahi in 1820. The Massina fell to El Hadj Umar Tall's Toucouleur Empire in 1862, who in turn fell to the French army. The region became a part of the country of Mali on its independence in 1960.