The Gao Region is located in northeastern Mali. The region's capital city is Gao. The region is bordered to the south and east by Niger, to the north by Kidal Region, and to the west by Tombouctou Region. Common ethnicities in the Gao Region include the Songhai, Bozo, Tuareg, Bambara, and Kounta. The towns include Gao, Bourem, and Bamba.
The Gao Region is part of Azawad, the northern part of Mali that was separated and declared independent by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) during the Tuareg rebellion of 2012. After the 1st Battle of Gao, the MNLA lost their control of the territory to Islamist militias. Several other battles have taken place in the region during the war, particularly in the city of Gao itself.
For administrative purposes, the Gao Region is divided into four cercles:
Gao Region formerly comprised the entire eastern portion of the country, east of Tombouctou Region. However in 1991 the northern half of Gao Region was separated off to become the new Kidal Region.