Present-day Mali was once part of three West African empires that controlled the trans Sahara trade: the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire (from which Mali is named), and the Songhai Empire. In the late 19th century, during the Scramble for Africa, France seized control of Mali making it a part of French Sudan. French Sudan (then known as the Sudanese Republic) joined with Senegal in 1959, achieving independence in 1960 as the Mali Federation. Shortly thereafter, following Senegal’s withdrawal from the federation, the Sudanese Republic declared itself the independent Republic 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, officially the Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali 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 size is just over 1,240,000 km² with a population of 14.5 million. 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 and Sénégal rivers. The country’s economic structure centers around agriculture and fishing. Some of Mali’s natural resources are gold, uranium, and salt.
Mali is a region of immense cultural richness and tradition. For the ones more interested in numbers, here are some generally accepted statistics about The Mali of today.
The Republic of Mali
Location: West Africa
Capital City: Bamako
Currency: CFA Franc (Communauté Financière Africaine Franc). £1 = 767 CFA.
Language: French (official), Bambara 80%, numerous other African languages.
Religion: Muslim 90%, Indigenous beliefs 9%, Christian 1%
Income per capita: $691, (5th poorest country in the world)
Life expectancy: 52 years
Neighbours: Algeria, Burkina Faso, The Ivory Coast, Guinea, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal
Climate: Subtropical to arid. Feb-June: Hot and dry, June-Nov: rainy, humid and mild. Nov-Feb: Cool and dry.
Natural Hazard Risks: Hot, dust-laden harmattan haze common during dry seasons, recurring droughts, occasional flooding of the River Niger.
Environmental Concerns: Deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; inadequate supplies of drinkable water; poaching