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The Mali Empire was a west African country from 1235 to 1645. The Mandinka people lived there. It is also called the Manding Empire or Manden Kurufa. Sundiata Keita started the empire and the empire became famous because its rulers were very rich, especially Mansa Musa I. The Mali Empire had many important cultural effects on western Africa, so the language, laws and customs spread a lot along the Niger River.