Kayes Region is one of eight first level national subdivisions, called Regions in Mali. It is the first administrative area of Mali and covers an area of 120,760 km². Its capital is the town of Kayes.
Several rivers cross the region: the Baoulé, the Bafing, and the Bakoy which join at the town of Bafoulabé to form the Sénégal River. The Falls of Félou (4 km of Kayes), the Falls of Gouina (100 km to the south-east of Kayes on the Sénégal River), Lake Magui and Lake Doro are located in the region.
Kayes is divided into 7 cercles:
The region of Kayes is the cradle of the Kingdom of Khasso founded at the beginning of the 19th century.
In 1855, Louis Faidherbe, Governor of Senegal, built a fort at Medina which would be besieged by El Hadj Omar Tall, in an 1857 war against the sovereign of Khasso. In 1892, the town of Kayes became the capital of French Sudan.
The construction of the railway line of Dakar-Niger, inaugurated in 1904, made of Kayes a city-crossroads. Essential at the time, the railroad had an important place in the lives of the inhabitants, as described in Ousmane Sembène's novel God's Bits of Wood.