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Rivers and lakes of Mali


Two main rivers cut through Mali: the Niger and the Sénégal. The Niger River traverses Mali for 1,700 kilometers (1,060 miles), nearly one-third of its total length of 4,185 kilometers (2,600 miles). Beyond the town of Ségou, the Niger forms a vast inland delta and then joins with its main tributary, the Bani, at Mopti.


Beyond Mopti the Niger breaks up into two channels, the Bara Issa and the Issa Ber, that spread out in a broad flood plain covering 103,600 square kilometers (40,000 square miles) before rejoining just above Diré, between Lakes Niangay and Fagubine.

In western Mali, the Sénégal River is formed at the small town of Bafoulabé through the confluence of the Bafing and Bakoye Rivers. The Falémé River lies along the border with Senegal. It joins other tributaries to become the Sénégal. The Gorgol River, which originates in Mauritania, joins it about 200 kilometers (125 miles) downstream.

The only two perennial lakes of any real size are located in the center of the country on either side of the Niger River. To the east of the river sits Lake Niangay, and northwest of this lake is the larger Lake Faguibine.

 Lake Faguibine is the largest lake in Mali, with a rainy-season surface area of 590 square kilometers (228 square miles). After the September-through-December rainy season, the delta region of the Niger—about 30,000 square kilometers (19,000 square miles) in total area—is flooded. Grasslands become green, and the seasonal lakes—Debo, Fati, Teli, Korientze, Tanda, Niangay, Do, Garou, Aougoundou, and others—are filled with water.