It is the largest (1,504,500 sq km, 5 times Italy) of the seven colonies that make up French West Africa, but one of the most depopulated (3,527,000 residents in 1934, a little more than 2 for sq. km) and of the less economically developed, since it includes vast steppe and desert territories. The western part of it is a set of arenaceous plateaus of about 700 m. high, furrowed by the Bafing and Bakoy (spring branches of Senegal, which descend from them by means of numerous rapids and waterfalls) and surmounted by isolated basalt reliefs. The central and eastern part of the country is furrowed from the high and middle Niger, whose initially narrow valley begins to widen only after Ségou, until the river enters the large depressed area of Masina (Macina), superficially formed by highly fertile Quaternary delta floods. Here Niger is divided into a large number of branches, between which, in the most depressed areas, there are various lake basins; at maximum floods the river floods this region, between Sansanding and Timbuktu, over a width of 100-150 km. Major hydraulic works are underway to conquer very large areas for agriculture: 750,000 hectares can be irrigated between Niger and its tributary Bani; north of Sansanding, 250,000 hectares; in Masina, 300,000 hectares. Major hydraulic works are underway to conquer very large areas for agriculture: 750,000 hectares can be irrigated between Niger and its tributary Bani; north of Sansanding, 250,000 hectares; in Masina, 300,000 hectares. Major hydraulic works are underway to conquer very large areas for agriculture: 750,000 hectares can be irrigated between Niger and its tributary Bani; north of Sansanding, 250,000 hectares; in Masina, 300,000 hectares.
Monotonous plateaus, limited by crags and steep escarpments, and surmounted by modest reliefs, among which the mountainous massif of the Adrar degli Ifoghas, 500m high, closes the Niger valley both to the north and to the south.
The climate is everywhere very hot and on the whole arid. In the western part in spring the average of the maximums is around 42-43 °, that of the minimums does not drop below 25-26 °; however, the rains still fall in considerable quantities (about 700 mm.). Even in the southern part of the colony, the rains are relatively abundant (700-800 mm.) And fall from June to October, lowering the temperatures a little, which is always very high. Going north, the rains decrease and in Timbuktu they are already reduced to less than 250 mm.; On the other hand, temperatures and annual and diurnal excursions increase. In Timbuktu for several months the average maximum temperature does not drop below 40 °, and that of the minimum below 23 °. Woods and savannahs predominate in the far south; then there is a band of steppes; finally we enter the desert.
Mossi, Haussa and Fulbe live in the southern part of the colony, south of Niger; Mandingo in middle Niger, Bambara in upper Niger, Mauri and Tuareg nomads north of the great river. Few are the Whites (1800), almost all French.
The capital of the colony is Bamako-Koulouba (21,200 residents); other notable centers are Kayes (13,400 residents), Sikasso (10,300 residents), Ségou (8900 residents), Goundam (6300 residents), Djenné (6000 residents), Gao (5600 residents), Timbuktu (5400 residents).), much decayed, and Mopti (4700 residents).
The main economic resources of French Sudan derive from agriculture and livestock. This has a livestock stock made up of 1.7 million cattle, 2.6 million sheep, 2.5 million goats, 140,000 donkeys, 70,000 horses and 30,000 camels, and exports live animals and skins in considerable quantities..
Agriculture, limited to the most humid or irrigable areas, is especially directed to peanuts, for the production of which the colony is in 2nd place among all African countries (after Senegal), to cotton (40,000 q. Of annual product) and agave sisalana; the crops of millet, corn, rice, sesame and coffee should also be mentioned, the product of which is essentially used for local consumption.
It should be remembered the moderate production of gum arabic, which is obtained from Acacia verek.
The ways of communication are scarce; the most important are given by the navigable sections of Senegal and Niger and by the railway which, coming from Dakar, after a journey of 1315 km., goes as far as Koulikoro on the Niger. There are also numerous truckable tracks. Sea ports used by the French Sudan trade are St. Louis (Senegal) and Conakry (French Guinea). The colony imports cottons, foodstuffs, motor vehicles, petroleum, building materials, sugar, salt and beer, and exports peanuts, livestock, rubber, skins, cotton, wool, sisal, etc. The value of imports is usually more than double that of exports.
When the colony of Upper Volta was suppressed in 1933, and its territory was divided between the Ivory Coast, the Colony of Niger and the French Sudan, this amounted to 52,400 sq km. and 713,000 residents. (See table CXLIV).