République du Mali
Republic of Mali
Flag of Mali Coat of arms of Mali
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Un peuple, un but, une foi"
"One people, one goal, one faith"
Anthem: Pour l'Afrique et pour toi, Mali
"For Africa and for you, Mali"
Location of Mali
Capital Bamako
Largest city Bamako
Official language French
Government Parliamentary democracy
 - President Amadou Toumani Touré
 - Prime Minister Ousmane Issoufi Maïga
Independence from France 
 - Declared September 22 1960 
 - Total 1,240,192 km² (24th)
478,839 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 1.6
 - July 2005 estimate 13,518,000 (65th)
 - Density 11/km² (207th)
28/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $14.400 billion (125th)
 - Per capita $1,154 (166th)
HDI  (2004) 0.338 (low) (175th)
Currency CFA franc (XOF)
Time zone (UTC)
Internet TLD .ml
Calling code +223

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali (French: République du Mali, Amazigh: Image:Mali_tifinagh.JPG), is a landlocked nation in Western Africa. It is the seventh largest country of Africa. It borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its straight borders on the north stretch into the centre of the Sahara desert, while the country's south, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Senegal rivers. Formerly French Sudan, the country is named after the Empire of Mali. The name of the country comes from the Bambara word for hippopotamus (with the animal appearing on the 5 franc coin), the name of its capital city, Bamako comes from the Bambara word meaning "place of crocodiles".




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 neighbouring 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.

Modibo Keita was victim of a coup in 1968 after which Mali was ruled by Moussa Traoré 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, a retired General, who had been the leader of the military aspect of 1991 democratic uprising.


Administrative divisions

Map of Mali

Mali is divided into 8 regions (régions) and 1 district, and subdivided into 49 cercles and finally 288 arrondissements.

The regions and district are:

See also:



View over Bamako
View over Bamako

At 478,734 mi² (1,240,000 km²[1]), Mali is the world's 24th-largest country (after Angola). It is comparable in size to South Africa, and is nearly twice the size of the US state of Texas.

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 Adrar des Ifoghas lies 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, kaolinite, salt and limestone being most widely exploited.

See List of cities in Mali



Market scene in Kati
Market scene in Kati

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 labour force is engaged in farming and fishing. Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities. Pottery is also practised by women whose wares are bought by dealers and are transported to markets where they are sold by traders. The traditional methods used by the potters are an attraction to foreign tourists. 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 implementation of an IMF-recommended structural adjustment program. 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.



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

Religions Muslim 90%, indigenous beliefs 9%, Christian 1%



Mosque under construction in Bamako
Mosque under construction in Bamako

Approximately 90% of Malians follow Sunni Islam, but not always to the exclusion of traditional religious beliefs and practices. Muslims have their own educational systems, leading in some cases to the equivalent of baccalaureate and doctoral studies. An increasingly large number of Muslims make the pilgrimage to Makkah and study in Arab countries. Christians comprise about 5% of the population. Under French colonial rule the introduction of missionaries into predominantly Islamic areas was discouraged.

Literacy in French, the official language, is low and is concentrated in the urban areas. The government has expanded literacy considerably since 1960 by stressing education at the primary and lower secondary levels. A national university was established in Bamako in the 1990s.


Miscellaneous topics

Mali is also famed for Genuine mudcloth with hand-painted designs using the traditional methods which have been passed down for many centuries. The cloth is first woven, then a design is painted on by hand using natural ingredients. This cloth is then dipped in to specially prepared dyes made with mud, left to dry and then often dipped again. The process may take several weeks from start to finish. (


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