Agadez (ägˌädĕzˈ) [key] or Agadès ägädĕsˈ, town (1988 pop. 50,164), W central Niger, in the Aïr Massif. Agadez is a trade center visited by Tuareg pastoral nomads. Leather and silver handicrafts are made. Tin, tungsten, uranium, and salt are mined nearby. Founded by the 11th cent., Agadez developed because of its location on trans-Saharan caravan routes linking Egypt and Libya with the Lake Chad area. Agadez was held by the Mali empire during part of the 14th cent., captured by the Songhai empire in 1515, and controlled by Bornu in the 17th cent. It remained a trade center until the late 19th cent. During much of this time it was a center of Islamic learning. The French occupied the town in the early 20th cent. Agadez has a 16th-century mosque and a school of mines.