About Mali


1.24 million km² (480,000 sqm) (twice the size of Texas/France, 20 times the size of Austria)
65% (semi-)desert

Capital: Bamako - 2.2 million (2006)
Languages: French (national), Bambara, and over 20 others


Population: 13.8 million (2005), growing rapidly
half the population under 15

Ethnic groups: Mande 50% (Bambara, Malinke, Soninke), Fulani 17%, Voltaic 12%, Songhai 6%, Tuareg and Moor 10%, other 5%


Life expectancy: 47 years (2002)
Average number of children per woman: 7 (2002)
Babies dying at birth: 12%
Women dying related to giving birth: 33%
HIV/AIDS: 1.7% (2001)


Literate: 45% men, 31% women (1998)


13th-poorest nation in the world (2011)
Reasons: 23 year-long military dictatorship until 1991, droughts
External debt: $3.1 billion (1998)


Average annual income: US$ 190
Below poverty line: 64%
Unemployment: 15% (urban), 5% (rural)


Occupation: 80% farming & fishing (1998)
Main exports: cotton, gold, livestock
Natural resources: gold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, hydropower
Environmental issues: deforestation, soil erosion, desertification, inadequate supplies of potable water, poaching


Human rights concerns: forced marriages, polygamy, 24% of women married by age 15, 94% of woman circumcised (female genital mutilation)


Religions: 90% Muslim, 9% traditional, 1% Christian
only Muslim nation that is considered having religious liberty
a third of all ethnic groups have no known Christian believers
There are 900 medical dispensaries, but 1000 Quranic schools (Muslim schools).



Mali is landlocked and has a subtropical to arid climate. It is mostly flat, rising to rolling northern plains covered by sand, with savanna around the Niger River in the south. The hills of the Air Massif and Djado Plateau lie in the northeast. Most of the country lies in the Sahara Desert, which produces a hot, dust-laden harmattan haze common during dry seasons and leads to recurring droughts. The nation has considerable natural resources, with gold, uranium, phosphates, kaolin, salt and limestone being most widely exploited.



The Mandé peoples settled the Sahel (including present-day Mali), and formed a succession of Sahelian kingdoms, including the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire, and the Songhai Empire. Timbuktu was a key city in these empires as an outpost for trans-Saharan trade and a center for scholarship. The Songhai Empire declined under a Moroccan invasion in 1591.

Mali was invaded by France starting in 1880, which annexed it as an overseas department of France. The colony, which at times also included neighboring countries, was known as French Sudan or the Sudanese Republic. In early 1959, the union of Mali and Senegal became the Mali Federation, which gained independence from France on June 20, 1960. Senegal withdrew from the Mali Federation after a few months. The Republic of Mali, under Modibo Keïta, withdrew from the French Community on September 22, 1960.

Mali was ruled by a series of dictators from independence until 1991. Anti-government protests in 1991 led to a coup, a transitional government, and a new constitution. In 1992, Alpha Oumar Konaré won Mali's first democratic, multi-party presidential election. Upon his reelection in 1997, President Konaré pushed through political and economic reforms and fought corruption. In 2002 he was succeeded in democratic elections by Amadou Toumani Touré, who had been a key figure in the 1991 democratic uprising.


Mali's constitution provides for a multi-party democracy, with the only restriction being a prohibition against parties based on ethnic, religious, regional, or gender lines. The National Assembly is the sole legislative arm of the government. It currently consists of 147 members. Representation is apportioned according to the population of administrative districts. The government has a 5 year term.


Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert. Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger River. About 10% of the population is nomadic and some 80% of the labor force is engaged in farming and fishing. Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities. Mali is heavily dependent on foreign aid and vulnerable to fluctuations in world prices for cotton, its main export. In 1997, the government continued its successful implementation of an IMF-recommended structural adjustment program that is helping the economy grow, diversify, and attract foreign investment. Mali's adherence to economic reform, and the 50% devaluation of the African franc in January 1994, has pushed up economic growth. Several multinational corporations increased gold mining operations in 1996-1998, and the government anticipates that Mali will become a major Sub-Saharan gold exporter in the next few years.

Foreign aid:

Mali is a major recipient of foreign aid from many sources, including multilateral organizations (most significantly the World Bank, African Development Bank, and Arab Funds), and bilateral programs funded by the European Union, France, United States, Canada, Netherlands, and Germany. Before 1991, the former Soviet Union had been a major source of economic and military aid, including construction of a cement plant and the Kalana gold mine. Currently, aid from Russia is restricted mainly to training and provision of spare parts. Chinese aid remains high, and Chinese-Malian joint venture companies have become more numerous in the last 3 years, leading to the opening of a Chinese investment center. The Chinese are major participants in the textile industry and in largescale construction projects, including a bridge across the Niger, a conference center, an expressway in Bamako, and a new national stadium completed for the Africa Cup competition in 2002.


Mali's armed forces number some 7,000 and are under the control of the Minister of Armed Forces and Veterans. The Gendarmerie and local police forces (under the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Security) maintain internal security. In the sixties and seventies, Mali's army and air force relied primarily on the Soviet Union for materiel and training. A few Malians receive military training in the United States, France, and Germany. Military expenditures total about 13% of the national budget.

The Army controls the small navy (approx. 130 sailors and 3 river patrol boats). Since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Tuareg Rebellion, the Army has struggled to maintain its size, despite recent military aid from the United States. It is organized into a single brigade consisting of four motorized infantry battalions, an MBT battalion operating T-34/85s, and a light armoured battalion of Type 62s. An airborne battalion and two companies of commandos comprise the nation's special forces. Manpower is provided by two-year selective conscription.

The capital Bamako:

Bamako, population about 2,200,000 (2006), is the capital of Mali. It is located on the Niger River, in the southwestern part of the country. Bamako is the nation's administrative center, as well as a river port and a major regional trade center. Manufactures include textiles, processed meat, and metal goods. There is commercial fishing on the Niger River. Bamako is located at 12°39' North, 8° West (12.65, -8.0).

The area of the city has been continuously inhabited since the Palaeolithic, but the legendary founding of Bamako occurred in the seventeenth century by Seribadian Niaré and Soumba Coulibaly, or Bamba Sanago, before its chiefdom passed to Diaoussadian Niaré. The city was an important market town and a leading center of Muslim learning under the Mali Empire, but by the 19th century it had declined. In 1883 the region was occupied by French troops, and in 1908, Bamako became the capital of the French Sudan. Its population has grown rapidly; in 1960 Bamako's population was approximately 160,000.

Much of this information comes from www.wikipedia.com.


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