, officially the Republic of
( ), is a landlocked
in Western Africa
. Mali is the seventh
largest country in Africa, bordering Algeria on the
north, Niger on the east,
Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the
south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west.
Its size is just over
1,240,000 km² with an estimated population of about
13,000,000. Its capital is Bamako.
Mali consists of eight regions and its borders on the north reach
deep into the middle of the Sahara
, while the
country's southern region, where the majority of inhabitants live,
features the Niger
rivers. The country's economic
structure centers around agriculture
. Some of Mali's natural resources
. Mali is considered to be one of the
poorest nations in the world.
Present-day Mali was once part of three West African empires that
controlled trans-Saharan trade
the Ghana Empire
, the Mali Empire
(from which Mali is named), and the
. In the late 1800s,
Mali fell under French control, becoming part of French Sudan
. Mali gained independence in 1959
with Senegal, as the Mali
. A year later, the Mali Federation became the
independent nation of Mali. After a long period of one-party rule,
a 1991 coup led to the writing of a new constitution and the
establishment of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state. About
half the population live below the international poverty line
of US$1.25 a day.
Mali was once part of three famed West African empires which
controlled trans-Saharan trade
, and other
precious commodities. These Sahelian
had neither rigid geopolitical boundaries nor rigid
ethnic identities. The earliest of these empires was the Ghana Empire
, which was dominated by the
, a Mande
-speaking people. The nation expanded
throughout West Africa from the 8th century until 1078, when it was
conquered by the Almoravids
The Mali Empire
later formed on the
upper Niger River
, and reached the
height of power in the fourteenth century. Under the Mali Empire,
the ancient cities of Djenné and Timbuktu were centers of both trade and Islamic learning.
The empire later declined as
a result of internal intrigue, ultimately being supplanted by the
. The Songhai people
originated in current northwestern Nigeria.
Songhai had long been a major power in West Africa subject to the
Mali Empire's rule.
In the late 14th century, the Songhai gradually gained independence
from the Mali Empire and expanded, ultimately subsuming the entire
eastern portion of the Mali Empire. The Songhai Empire's eventual
collapse was largely the result of a Moroccan
invasion in 1591, under the command
of Judar Pasha
. The fall of the Songhai
Empire marked the end of the region's role as a trading crossroads.
Following the establishment of sea routes by
the European powers
, the trans-Saharan trade routes lost
In the colonial era, Mali fell under the control of the French
beginning in the late 19th century. By 1905, most of the area was
under firm French control as a part of French Sudan
. In early 1959, Mali (then the Sudanese
Republic) and Senegal united to
become the Mali Federation.
The Mali Federation gained independence from France on June 20,
1960. Senegal withdrew from the federation in August 1960, which
allowed the Sudanese Republic to form the independent nation of
Mali on September 22, 1960. Modibo
was elected the first president. Keïta quickly
established a one-party state, adopted an independent African and
socialist orientation with close ties to the East, and implemented
extensive nationalization of economic resources.
In November 1968, following progressive economic decline, the Keïta
regime was overthrown in a bloodless military coup led by Moussa Traoré
. The subsequent
military-led regime, with Traoré as president, attempted to reform
the economy. However, his efforts were frustrated by political
turmoil and a devastating drought between 1968 to 1974. The Traoré
regime faced student unrest beginning in the late 1970s and three
coup attempts. However, the Traoré regime repressed all dissenters
until the late 1980s.
The government continued to attempt economic reforms, and the
populace became increasingly dissatisfied. In response to growing
demands for multi-party democracy, the Traoré regime allowed some
limited political liberalization, but refused to usher in a
full-fledged democratic system. In 1990, cohesive opposition
movements began to emerge, and was complicated by the turbulent
rise of ethnic violence in the north following the return of many
Anti-government protests in 1991 led to a coup, a transitional
government, and a new
. In 1992, Alpha
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 the 1991
democratic uprising. Today, Mali is one of the most politically and
socially stable countries in Africa.
Mali is a
landlocked nation in West Africa,
located southwest of Algeria.
At , Mali
is the world's 24th-largest
country and is comparable in size to South Africa or Angola.
Satellite image of Mali
of the country lies in the southern Sahara
which produces a hot, dust-laden the Sudanian savanna
zone. Mali is mostly flat,
rising to rolling northern plains covered by sand
. The Adrar des
lies in the northeast.
The country's climate ranges from tropical
in the south to arid
in the north. Most of the
country receives negligible rainfall; droughts
are frequent. Late June to early December
is the rainy season. During this time, flooding of the Niger River
is common, creating the Niger Inland Delta.
The nation has considerable natural
resources, with gold, uranium, phosphates
salt and limestone
being most widely
exploited. Mali faces numerous environmental challenges, including
, and inadequate supplies
Regions and cercles
Mali is divided into eight regions
) and one district
region has a governor. Since Mali's regions are very large, the
country is subdivided into 49 cercle
totaling 288 arrondissements
and elected members of the city councils officiate the
and districts are:
Politics and government
Mali is a constitutional democracy governed by the constitution of
January 12, 1992, which was amended in 1999. The constitution
provides for a separation of powers among the executive
, and judicial
branches of government. The system of
government can be described as "semi-presidential."
Mali President Amadou Toumani
Executive power is vested in a president, who is elected to a
five-year term by universal suffrage and is limited to two terms.
The president serves as chief of
and commander in chief
of the armed forces. A prime minister appointed by the president
serves as head of government and in turn appoints the Council of
Ministers. The unicameral National Assembly is Mali’s sole
legislative body, consisting of deputies elected to five-year
terms. Following the 2007 elections, the Alliance for
Democracy and Progress
held 113 of 160 seats in the assembly.
The assembly holds two regular sessions each year, during which it
debates and votes on legislation that has been submitted by a
member or by the government.
Mali’s constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but the
executive continues to exercise influence over the judiciary by
virtue of power to appoint judges and oversee both judicial
functions and law enforcement. Mali's highest courts are the
Supreme Court, which has both judicial and administrative powers,
and a separate Constitutional Court that provides judicial review
of legislative acts and serves as an election arbiter. Various
lower courts exist, though village chiefs and elders resolve most
local disputes in rural areas.
Foreign relations and military
Mali's foreign policy
orientation has become increasingly pragmatic and pro-Western over
time. Since the institution of a
democratic form of government in 2002
, Mali’s relations with
the West in general and with the United States
particular have improved significantly. Mali has a longstanding yet
ambivalent relationship with France, a former colonial ruler
. Mali is active in
regional organizations such as the African
. Working to control and resolve regional
conflicts, such as in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra
Leone, is one of Mali’s major foreign policy
Mali feels threatened by the potential for the
spillover of conflicts in neighboring states, and relations with
those neighbors are often uneasy. General insecurity along borders
in the north, including cross-border banditry
remain troubling issues in regional relations.
Mali’s military forces
an army, which includes land forces and air force 
, as well as the paramilitary Gendarmerie
and Republican Guard, all of which are under the control of Mali's
Ministry of Defense and Veterans, headed by a civilian
military is underpaid, poorly equipped, and in need of
rationalization. Organization has suffered from the incorporation
irregular forces into the regular
military following a 1992
agreement between the government and Tuareg rebel forces
military has generally kept a low profile since the democratic
transition of 1992. The incumbent president, Amadou Toumani Touré
, is a former
and as such reportedly enjoys
widespread military support. In the annual human rights report for
2003, the U.S. Department of State rated civilian control of
security forces as generally effective but noted a few "instances
in which elements of the security forces acted independently of
A porter hauling hay
Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. The average
worker's annual salary is approximately US$1,500. Between 1992 and
1995, Mali implemented an economic adjustment program that resulted
in economic growth and a reduction in financial imbalances. The
program increased social and economic conditions, and led to Mali
joining the World Trade
on May 31, 1995. The gross domestic product (GDP)
has risen since. In 2002, the GDP amounted to US$3.4 billion, and
increased to US$5.8 billion in 2005, which amounts to an
approximately 17.6% annual growth rate.
Mali's key industry is agriculture. Cotton is the country's largest
crop export and is exported west throughout Senegal and the Ivory
Coast. During 2002, 620,000 tons of cotton were produced in Mali
but cotton prices declined significantly in 2003. In addition to
cotton, Mali produces rice
tree crops. Gold, livestock and agriculture amount to eighty
percent of Mali's exports. Eighty percent of Malian workers are
employed in agriculture while fifteen percent work in the service
sector. However, seasonal variations lead to regular temporary unemployment
In 1991, with the assistance of the International Development
, Mali relaxed the enforcement of mining codes which
led to renewed foreign interest and investment in the mining
industry. Gold is mined in the
southern region and Mali has the third highest gold production in
Africa (after South Africa and Ghana).
emergence of gold as Mali’s leading export product since 1999 has
helped mitigate some of the negative impact of the cotton and Côte
d’Ivoire crises. Other natural resources include kaolin
, and limestone
Electricity and water are maintained by the Energie du Mali, or
EDM, and textiles are generated by Industry Textile du Mali, or
ITEMA. Mali has made efficient use of hydroelectricity
, consisting of over half
of Mali's electrical power. In 2002, 700 GWh
of hydroelectric power were produced in
The Malian government participates in foreign involvement,
concerning commerce and privatization. Mali underwent
economic reform, beginning in 1988 by signing agreements with the
World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
During 1988 to 1996, Mali's government
largely reformed public enterprises. Since the agreement, sixteen
enterprises were privatized, twelve partially privatized, and
twenty liquidated. In 2005, the Malian government conceded a
railroad company to the Savage Corporation, which is based in
City, Utah, United States.
Two major companies, Societé de
Telecommunications du Mali (SOTELMA) and the Cotton Ginning Company
(CMDT), are expected to be privatized in 2008.
Mali is a member of the Organization
for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa
In July 2009, Mali's population was an estimated 13 million, with
an annual growth rate of 2.7%. The population is predominantly
(68% in 2002), and 5–10% of Malians are
. More than 90% of the population lives in the
southern part of the country, especially in Bamako, which has
over 1 million residents.
In 2007, about 48% of Malians were less than fifteen years old, 49%
were 15–64 years old, and 3% were 65 and older. The median age was
15.9 years. The birth rate
in 2007 was
49.6 births per 1,000, and the total fertility rate
was 7.4 children
per woman. The death rate
in 2007 was
16.5 deaths per 1,000. Life
at birth was 49.5 years total (47.6 for males and
51.5 for females). Mali has one of the world's highest
of infant mortality
106 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007.
Mali’s population encompasses a number of sub-Saharan
ethnic groups, most of which have
historical, cultural, linguistic, and religious commonalities. The
are by far the largest single
ethnic group, making up 36.5% of the population. Collectively, the
, and Malinké
, all part of the broader Mandé
group, constitute 50% of Mali's population.
Other significant groups are the Peul
(6%), and Tuareg
historically has enjoyed reasonably good inter-ethnic relations;
however, some hereditary servitude relationships exist, as do
ethnic tensions between the Songhai and the Tuareg
Mali’s official language is French, but numerous (40 or more)
also are widely
used by the various ethnic groups. About 80% of Mali’s population
can communicate in Bambara
is the country’s principal lingua
and marketplace language.
An estimated 90% of Malians are Muslim
), approximately 5% are Christian
(about two-thirds Roman
and one-third Protestant
and the remaining 5% adhere to indigenous or traditional animist
are believed to be rare among
Malians, most of whom practice their religion on a daily basis.
Islam as practiced in Mali is moderate, tolerant, and adapted to
local conditions; relations between Muslims and practitioners of
minority religious faiths are generally amicable. The constitution
establishes a secular state
provides for freedom of
, and the government largely respects this right.
Health and education
Mali faces numerous health challenges related to poverty
and inadequate hygiene
. Mali's health and development
indicators rank among the worst in the world. In 2000, only 62–65
percent of the population was estimated to have access to safe
drinking water and only 69 percent to sanitation services of some
kind. In 2001, the general government expenditures on health
totaled about US$4 per capita at an average exchange rate. Medical
facilities in Mali are very limited, and medicines are in short
and other arthropod
-borne diseases are prevalent in Mali, as
are a number of infectious
such as cholera
. Mali’s population also suffers
from a high rate of child malnutrition
and a low rate of immunization
estimated 1.9 percent of the adult and children population was
afflicted with HIV
year, among the lowest rates in Sub-Saharan Africa
Public education in Mali is in principle provided free of charge
and is compulsory for nine years between the ages of seven and 16.
The system encompasses six years of primary education
beginning at age seven,
followed by six years of secondary
. However, Mali’s actual primary school enrollment
rate is low, in large part because families are unable to cover the
cost of uniforms, books, supplies, and other fees required to
attend. In the 2000–01 school year, the primary school enrollment
rate was 61% (71% of males and 51% of females); in the late 1990s,
the secondary school enrollment rate was 15% percent (20% of males
and 10% of females). The education system is plagued by a lack of
schools in rural areas, as well as shortages of teachers and
materials. Estimates of literacy rates in Mali range from 27–30% to
46.4%, with literacy rates significantly lower among women than
Malian musical traditions are derived from the griots
, who are known as "Keeper of Memories".Malian music
is diverse and has several
different genres. Some famous Malian influences in music are
virtouso musician Toumani Diabaté
, the late roots and
blues guitarist Ali Farka Touré
, the Tuareg
artists such as Salif Keita
, the duo Amadou et Mariam
, Oumou Sangare
, and Habib Koité
Though Mali's literature is less famous than its music, Mali has
always been one of Africa's liveliest intellectual centers. Mali's
literary tradition is passed mainly by word of mouth, with
reciting or singing histories and stories known by
heart. Amadou Hampâté
, Mali's best-known historian, spent much of his life writing
these oral traditions down for the world to remember. The
best-known novel by a Malian writer is Yambo Ouologuem
's Le devoir de
, which won the 1968 Prix
but whose legacy was marred by accusations of
plagiarism. Other well-known Malian writers include Baba Traoré,
Modibo Sounkalo Keita, Massa
, Moussa Konaté
and Fily Dabo Sissoko.
The varied everyday culture of Malians reflects the country's
ethnic and geographic diversity. Most Malians wear flowing,
colorful robes called boubous
are typical of West Africa
frequently participate in traditional festivals, dances, and
are the staples of Malian cuisine, which is
heavily based on cereal grains. Grains are generally prepared with
sauces made from leaves such spinach
leaves, with tomato
, or with peanut
and may be accompanied by pieces of grilled meat (typically
, or goat
cuisine varies regionally.
The most popular sport in Mali
(soccer), which became
more prominent after Mali hosted the 2002 African Cup of Nations
Most towns have regular games; the most popular teams nationally
are Djoliba AC
, Stade Malien
, and Real
, all based in the capital. Informal games are often
played by youths using a bundle of rags as a ball. The country has
produced several notable players for French teams, including
and Jean Tigana
. Frédéric "Fredi" Kanouté, named
2007 African Footballer of the Year, currently plays for Sevilla FC
in Spain's La
. Also playing for major clubs in Spain are Mahamadou Diarra
, captain of the Mali
national squad, for Real Madrid
for FC Barcelona
. Other notable players currently
on European squads include, Mamady
), Mohammed Sissoko
(Juventus), Sammy Traore
Saint-Germain), Adama Coulibaly
Auxerre), Kalifa Cisse
and Jimmy Kebe
), and Dramane Traoré
(Lokomotiv Moscow). Basketball
major sport; the Mali women's national
, led by Sacramento Monarchs
player Hamchetou Maiga
, competed at the 2008
. Traditional wrestling
) is also somewhat common, though popularity has declined
in recent years. The game wari
, a mancala
variant, is a common pastime.
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- General information