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Kayes (Bambara Kayi, Soninké Xaayi) is a city in western Mali on the Sénégal River, with a population of roughly 100,000 people. Kayes is the capital of the administrative region of the same name. The name "Kayes" comes from the Soninké word "karré", which describes a low humid place that floods in rainy season. The city is located north-west of the capital Bamako.


Kayes is nicknamed the "pressure cooker of Africa" due to its extreme heat; the town is surrounded by iron-rich mountains which contribute to the temperature. Kayes is often described as the hottest continuously-inhabited town in Africa. The average daily high temperature in the city is , with temperatures usually peaking in April and May at an average .


Prior to French colonial expansion, Kayes was a small village. Its location on the path of the future Dakar-Niger Railway, and the French need for trade centers, led to the creation of the Kayes market town in 1881. It remains a transport hub, primarily for Senegalese trade, to this day. In 1892, Kayes became the capital of the French Sudan; Bamako replaced it as the capital, first of the state of Haut Sénégal-Niger on October 17, 1899, then as the capital of all of French Sudan in 1908.

Economy and transport

The town has an international airport (Kayes Airport), and lies on the Dakar-Niger Railway, in an area rich in gold and iron.


Different sites found in and around Kayes include:
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