Only a small number of Bambara live in Mauritania; most reside in Mali. They are thought to be descended from the founders of the thirteenth-century kingdom of Mali. Their language, Mandé-kan, is closely related to nearby languages. Many are Muslims, the number of adherents varying widely by group and locale. Most Bambara are farmers.
The Bambara recognize occupational castes and the institution of domestic slavery, as do their West African neighbors. They recognize patrilineal descent, and they practice polygyny. The normal household unit is the extended family.
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