The University of Timbuktu was established in the 12th century. Located in the city of Timbuktu, Mali, West Africa, it was composed of three schools, namely the Masajid of Djinguereber, the Masajid of Sidi Yahya, and the Masajid of Sankore. During the 12th century, the university had an enrollment of around 25,000 students from Africa as well as parts of the Mediterranean within a city of around 100,000 persons. There were four levels within the University curriculum, that included, the "Circle of Knowledge", the "Superior Degree", the "Secondary Degree", and the "Primary Degree". In addition to religious principles, teachings included: geography, mathematics, the sciences, and medicine amongst others.
Originating as a seasonal settlement during the 11th century, Timbuktu quickly grew in importance and eventually became a permanent settlement by the start of the 12th century. Due to a thriving economy based on book trading, salt, gold, spices and dyes, a strong concentration of both wealth and intellectuals flourished. As intellectual curiosity grew so did the number of books, reaching 20,000 in the city limits alone.