Timbuktu is located near the Niger River and was founded in the 11th century; contrary to the oldest rumors, the houses in Timbuktu were never made of gold. As of 2009, the population of Timbuktu was around 55,000.
Timbuktu was founded in the 11th century and permanently settled in the 12th century. The city became part of the Mali Empire in the 14th century thanks to its trade in ivory, gold and salt. Timbuktu sits about 12 miles north of the River Niger and as of 2014 is a very poor nation suffering from desertification.
Other interesting facts regarding Timbuktu include the fact that the city is receiving its first paved road in its history. The road will be 351 miles long and also run through the cities of Nampala, Lere, Goundam, Tonka and Dire. The little city also has an airport that services Mali Air Express and Air Mali. The airport, called Timbuktu Airport, has one runway which is paved and extends 6,923 feet.
Traveling to Timbuktu is no easy task. Driving from the closest passenger airport to the city takes around 20 hours and much of the trip is off-road. Timbuktu's sister cities include Saintes, France, Hay-on-Wye, Wales, Marrakesh, Morocco and Tempe, Ariz.