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Info Africa - MALI

Mali is in western Africa, southwest of Algeria. This landlocked country is bounded by Algeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. Mali gained independence from France in 1960. After suffering a 23-year dictatorship, Mali has been politically stable since the 1990s. Mali is home to Timbuktu, a large trading centre for salt and gold, along the trans-Saharan trade route. Here, visitors can enjoy the numerous mosques and tombs from as early as the 14th century. Bamako is Mali’s capital city as well as the cultural centre of the country. The markets and Botanical Gardens are amongst the beautiful sights of this city. The Musée National and the Maison des Artisans preserve the Mali’s art and

history. Mali is a historic country, containing towns and cities that date back to the 13th century, when Mali was an empire. Such cities include Djenné and Gao. Mali’s tourist centre is a city called Mopti, situated at the confluence of the Bani and the Niger. Built on three islands joined by dykes, this town is home to a fine port and mosque and numerous markets. Mali has a strong musical tradition, since the era of the Songhay and Mali Empires. The traditional music is based on the songs of the griots. The griots, or storytellers, are important members of society who pass on the histories and stories of their ancestors and villages to different generations. It is the griots that inform the society of its moral roots. They are also known for their ability to tell Mali’s culture of empires.
CATEGORIES: Demographics - Quick Facts - Economy - Communications - Health Issues
Country Flag: Mali's Flag

Three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), yellow, and red; uses the popular pan-African colors of Ethiopia

Nationality: Malian

Capital: Bamako

Population: 11,716,829 (July 2006 est.)

Age structure:

  • 0-14 years: 48.2%
  • 15-64 years: 48.8%
  • 65 years and over: 3% (2006 est.)  

Population growth rate: 2.63% (2006 est.)

Literacy rate:

  • ages 15 and above can read and write.
  • 46.4% of the population is literate (male: 53.5%, female: 39.6%) (2003 est.)

Major religions: Muslim 90%, indigenous beliefs 9%, Christian 1%

Languages: French (official), Bambara 80%, numerous African languages

Quick Facts
  • total: 1.24 million sq km
  • land: 1.22 million sq km
  • water: 20,000 sq km

Area comparative to Canadian province: slightly bigger than Ontario

Natural resources: gold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, gypsum, granite, hydropower
(bauxite, iron ore, manganese, tin, and copper deposits are known but not exploited)

Environmental Issues: deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching


Mali is one of the world’s poorest countries. 65% of Mali’s land is desert or semidesert, a factor which affects the economy. Mali’s economic activity is mainly restricted to the area irrigated by the Niger River that passes through the country. 80% of the labour force is involved in farming and fishing while nearly 10% of the population is nomadic. Mali’s industrial activity is mainly focused on processing farm products. As Mali’s main export is cotton, it remains highly affected by fluctuations in world prices for cotton and gold. It is highly dependent on foreign aid and the government is successful in implementing the IMF-recommended structural adjustment program. This has created economic growth and diversity. It has also attracted foreign investment. The instability of neighbouring Cote d’Ivoire has affected the external trade routes for this landlocked country.

Major industries:

  • food processing
  • construction
  • phosphate and gold mining

Agricultural products:

  • cotton
  • millet
  • rice
  • corn
  • vegetables
  • peanuts
  • cattle
  • sheep
  • goats

Oil production: 0 bbl/day (2003)

Railways: 729 km

Road map: 15,100 km (paved: 1,827 km, unpaved: 13,273 km)

Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc


Telephone lines in use: 74,900 (2004)

Cellular lines in use: 400,000 (2004)

Television Stations: 1 (plus repeaters) (2001)

Radio Stations: AM 1, FM 28, shortwave 1 (the shortwave station in Bamako has seven frequencies and five transmitters and relays broadcasts for China Radio International (2001) )

Internet users: 50,000 (2005)

Health Issues

HIV/AIDS adult prevalence rate: 1.9% (2003 est.)

People living with HIV/AIDS: 140,000 (2003 est.)

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