The Marka (also Marka Dafing, Meka, or Maraka) people are an ethnic group living primarily in the Segou region of Mali and the Dafina area of Burkina Faso.
They are descended from Soninkes who arrived there severfal centuries ago, probabling migrating west from the Ghana Empire.
The Marka of Burkina Faso are numbering 465,000 (Peoplegroups.org, 2023). They are part of the Malinke people cluster within the Sub-Saharan African affinity bloc.
Globally, this group totals 524,500 in 2 countries. Their primary language is Marka. The primary religion practiced by the Marka is animism, a religious worldview that natural physical entities--including animals, plants, and even inanimate objects--possess a spiritual essence.
Most Marka are traders and farmers, although a substantial number have moved in recent years to Bamako and to coastal areas in search of work.
Muslim merchant communities at the time of the Bambara Empire, the Maraka largely controlled the desert-side trade between the sahel communities and nomadic berber tribes who crossed the Sahara. The Bambara integrated Maraka communities into their state structure, and Maraka trading posts and plantations multiplied in the Segu based state and its Kaarta vassals in the 18th and early 19th centuries. When the pagan Bambara empire was defeated by the Maraka's fellow Muslim Umar Tall in the 1850s, the Maraka's unique trade and landholdings concessions suffered damage from which they never recovered.
Today there are only around 25,000 Marka speakers, and they are largely integrated amongst their Soninke and Bambara neighbors.