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group of peoples of western Africa, whose various Mande languages form a branch of the Niger-Congo language family. The Mande are located primarily on the savanna plateau of the western Sudan, although small groups of Mande origin, whose members no longer exhibit Mande cultural traits, are found scattered elsewhere, as in the tropical rain forests of Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the Cote d'Ivoire. Some of the most well-known Mande groups are the Bambara, Malinke, and Soninke (qq.v.).