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Traditional mancala games can be found almost everywhere in Africa, some parts of Asia (especially in South and Central Asia), the Caribbean and some coastal regions of northern South America. Mancala games are also known in Oceania (New Guinea and the Mariana Islands). In Europe, there are (or have been) traditional mancala games in the Baltic area and north-eastern Germany, on some Greek islands and in the Balkans.

Today, some of these games are also enjoyed outside traditional communities in Europe and North America.

Traditional mancala games are part of traditional folk culture (customs, arts and crafts) and usually passed on orally.

Unfortunately, many of these games are vanishing (or have already disappeared) because traditional societies are also changing. Often they are replaced by "western" games, e.g. Checkers and Ludo. In some regions mancala games have the stigma of being old-fashioned and rural, while Checkers, Ludo, Monopoly or video games are associated with being modern and urban.

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