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Mali

Map and Basic Facts about Mali

Location:
Mali lies in Western Africa, southwest of Algeria and east of Mauritania.

Land Boundaries:
Algeria 1,376 km, Burkina Faso 1,000 km, Guinea 858 km, Cote d'Ivoire 532 km, Mauritania 2,237 km, Niger 821 km, and Senegal 419 km.

Geography:
Size 1.24 million sq km, slightly less than twice the size of Texas, US. Mali is West Africa's biggest country. The Sahara desert covers the northern part of Mali so the terrain is mostly flat with some rolling northern plains covered by sand; there's savanna in south and rugged hills in the northeast. Mali's climate is subtropical to arid. It is very hot and dry from February to June; rainy, humid, and mild from June to November; and cool and dry from November to February. The lowest point is the Senegal River at 23m and the highest point is at Hombori Tondo which measures 1,155m. Mali is a landlocked country.

Population:
11.7 million people live in Mali. Life expectancy is around 49 years. Birth rate is on average 7.4 per woman. Literacy rate is just over 46%.

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

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

Religion:
Muslim 90%, indigenous beliefs 9%, Christian 1%.

Political History:
The Sudanese Republic and Senegal became independent of France in 1960 as the Mali Federation. When Senegal withdrew after only a few months, what formerly made up the Sudanese Republic was renamed Mali. Rule by dictatorship was brought to a close in 1991 by a coup that ushered in democratic government. President Alpha Konare won Mali's first democratic presidential election in 1992 and was reelected in 1997. In keeping with Mali's two-term constitutional limit, Konare stepped down in 2002 and was succeeded by Amadou Toure.

Economic Overview:
Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semidesert and with a highly unequal distribution of income. Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger. 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, along with gold. The government has 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 CFA franc in January 1994 have pushed up economic growth to a sturdy 5% average in 1996-2006. Worker remittances and external trade routes for the landlocked country have been jeopardized by continued unrest in neighboring Cote d'Ivoire.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Further Reading:
Mali Travel Guide
Cycling Through Mali
How to Get to Timbuktu
Timbuktu is one of Africa's Top Destinations
How to Avoid Malaria

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