Where is Mali located?

What countries border Mali?

Mali Weather

What is the current weather in Mali?

Mali Facts and Culture

What is Mali famous for?

  • Cultural Attributes: Mali is a developing nation and faces the problems of developing nations. Droughts have destroyed much of the regions plant... More
  • Family: Malian law allows for men to have more than one wife and many have two wives. A small percentage of... More
  • Personal Apperance: Clothing among Malians is predominantly African in style, although young men often wear Western styles for everyday. Styles for men... More
  • Recreation: Soccer is the most important sport. Most young people enjoy listening to music both international and African. More
  • Diet: Food shopping for food in Bamako usually requires going to several locations for the items on a list. There are... More
  • Food and Recipes: In rural Mali normally the food is served in a large bowl (sauce over millet), and people sit around the... More

Mali Facts

What is the capital of Mali?

Capital Bamako
Government Type semi-presidential republic
Currency CFA Franc BCEAO (XOF)
Total Area 478,838 Square Miles
1,240,192 Square Kilometers
Location interior Western Africa, southwest of Algeria, north of Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso, west of Niger
Language French (official), Bambara 80%, numerous African languages
GDP - real growth rate 5%
GDP - per capita (PPP) $1,800.00 (USD)

Mali Demographics

What is the population of Mali?

Ethnic Groups Mande 50% (Bambara, Malinke, Soninke), Peul 17%, Voltaic 12%, Songhai 6%, Tuareg and Moor 10%, other 5%
Nationality Noun Malian(s)
Population 19,553,397
Population Growth Rate 3.01%
Population in Major Urban Areas BAMAKO (capital) 2.037 million
Urban Population 34.900000

Mali Government

What type of government does Mali have?

Executive Branch chief of state: Transition President Assimi GOITA (since 7 June 2021); note - an August 2020 coup d'état deposed President Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA; on 21 September 2020, a group of 17 electors chosen by the Malian military junta, known as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) and led by Colonel Assimi GOITA, selected Bah NDAW as transition president; GOITA served as vice president of the transition government which was inaugurated on 25 September 2020; Vice President GOITA seized power on 25 May 2021; NDAW resigned on 26 May 2021; on 6 June 2022, GOITA's government announced a transition period of 24 months with a planned return to civilian rule by March 2024

head of government: Transition Prime Minister Choguel MAIGA (appointed by Transition President Assimi GOITA on 7 June 2021)

note: former transition Prime Minister Moctar OUANE was arrested and detained by the military on 24 May 2021 and resigned on 26 May 2021

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 29 July 2018 with runoff on 12 August 2018; prime minister appointed by the president; note - on 21 February 2022, the transition government adopted a charter allowing transition authorities to rule for up to 5 years, but a referendum pushed through by the junta in June 2023 consolidated power in the presidency and would allow junta leaders to serve in a new government, creating the potential for transition President GOITA to maintain his hold on power indefinitely

election results:

2018: Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA reelected president in second round; percent of vote in first round - Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA (RPM) 41.7%, Soumaila CISSE (URD) 17.8%, other 40.5%; percent of vote in second round - Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA 67.2%, Soumaila CISSE 32.8%

2013: Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA elected president in second round; percent of vote in first round - Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA (RPM) 39.8%, Soumaila CISSE (URD) 19.7%, other 40.5%; percent of vote in second round - Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA (RPM) 77.6%, Soumaila CISSE (URD) 22.4%
Suffrage 18 years of age; universal
Citizenship citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Mali

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years
National Holiday Independence Day, 22 September (1960)
Constitution history: several previous; latest drafted 13 October 2022 and submitted to Transition President Assimi GOITA; final draft completed 1 March 2023; referendum held on 18 June 2023 and approved; referendum results validated by Constitutional Court on 22 July 2023; note - the new constitution includes provisions for the extension of presidential and military powers and the creation of a "senate"

amendments: procedure for amending the 2023 constitution NA
Independence 22 September 1960 (from France)

Mali Video

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Mali Geography

What environmental issues does Mali have?

Overview The Republic of Mali is located in the interior of West Africa, north of the Equator, reaching to the Tropic of Cancer. It is landlocked, sharing borders with seven other African nations. The capital city of Bamako lies at an elevation between 950 and 1,000 feet.

Mali stretches across three different climatic regions. To the south is tropical Sudanese savanna, wooded grasslands broken occasionally by cliffs and rock formations, watered by the Niger and Senegal Rivers and their tributaries. In the middle are the semi-arid steppe-lands of the Sahel. Dry, sandy plains dotted with sparse trees and bushes and a vast plateau broken by isolated rocky masses characterize this transitional zone between the savanna and the desert to the north. This middle area comprises the rock buttes of Hombori, as well as the Bandiagara escarpment, famous as the home of the Dogon people. The desert zone in the north covers the largest area of Mali and is a hot, barren plain whose terrain is contoured by sand dunes and rocky outcroppings with little vegetation other than occasional patches of thorn bush.

Mali has two large river systems, the Senegal and the Niger. The Senegal River crosses into Mali from Guinea in the south and follows a northwest course into Senegal. The Niger River flows through the heart of Mali and serves as its most important waterway. The river courses 2,600 miles, the third longest in Africa, and played a large role in European exploration of Africa. The Niger flows northeast to the edge of the Sahara at Timbuktu where it turns east and then south, passing the town of Gao before entering Niger. The Niger is navigable from Koulikoro to Gao by large riverboats from August to November and by smaller craft for most of the rest of the year. Just beyond the Mali-Niger border, rapids prevent the riverboats from going further downstream into Niger.

Climate There are two primary seasons in West Africa. The dry period can be further divided into two distinct seasons, mild and hot, particularly in the savanna and Sahelian regions of Mali. The rainy season usually begins in June and continues into October. Almost all of the annual rainfall occurs during this time. As much as 60-80 inches of rain may fall in the southern savanna but rainfall is lower further north. Temperatures range from 70 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (21-40°C). The cool season lasts from December to mid-February, when temperatures range from 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night to the mid-80s (about 28-34°C) during the day. The hot season starts in mid-February and goes into June. The air is dry, dusty, and very hot; temperatures often reach over 100 degrees (40°C) and clouds of dust hang in the air. This is the season of the harmattan, the dry, sandy wind that brings dust clouds southwards from the Sahara.
Border Countries Algeria 1,376 km, Burkina Faso 1,000 km, Guinea 858 km, Cote d'Ivoire 532 km, Mauritania 2,237 km, Niger 821 km, Senegal 419 km
Environment - Current Issues deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching
Environment - International Agreements party to: Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Terrain mostly flat to rolling northern plains covered by sand; savanna in south, rugged hills in northeast

Mali Economy

How big is the Mali economy?

Economic Overview Among the 25 poorest countries in the world, landlocked Mali depends on gold mining and agricultural exports for revenue. The country's fiscal status fluctuates with gold and agricultural commodity prices and the harvest; cotton and gold exports make up around 80% of export earnings. Mali remains dependent on foreign aid.

Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger River; about 65% of Mali’s land area is desert or semidesert. About 10% of the population is nomadic and about 80% of the labor force is engaged in farming and fishing. Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities. The government subsidizes the production of cereals to decrease the country’s dependence on imported foodstuffs and to reduce its vulnerability to food price shocks.

Mali is developing its iron ore extraction industry to diversify foreign exchange earnings away from gold, but the pace will depend on global price trends. Although the political coup in 2012 slowed Mali’s growth, the economy has since bounced back, with GDP growth above 5% in 2014-17, although physical insecurity, high population growth, corruption, weak infrastructure, and low levels of human capital continue to constrain economic development. Higher rainfall helped to boost cotton output in 2017, and the country’s 2017 budget increased spending more than 10%, much of which was devoted to infrastructure and agriculture. Corruption and political turmoil are strong downside risks in 2018 and beyond.
Industries food processing; construction; phosphate and gold mining
Currency Name and Code CFA Franc BCEAO (XOF)
Export Partners Thailand 14.4%, Italy 10.2%, India 7.8%, Germany 4.8%, Spain 4.8%, Mauritius 4.2%, Portugal 4.2%
Import Partners Cote d'Ivoire 16.9%, France 13.4%, Senegal 6.4%

Mali News and Current Events

What current events are happening in Mali?
Source: Google News

Mali Travel Information

What makes Mali a unique country to travel to?

Country Description

Mali is a developing country in western Africa which remains politically unstable following the coup d’etat in March 2012 and the ongoing conflict in northern Mali. The official language is French; however, Bambara is the lingua franca and a total of thirteen local languages are also spoken and have status as national languages. The capital of Mali is Bamako (1.8 million, 2009 census estimate). Facilities for tourism are limited and their development has stalled since March. There is a serious threat of terrorist activities in Mali’s three northern regions (Timbuktu, Gao, and Kidal, which make up nearly 60 percent of the country’s area) and in remote areas along the Mauritanian border. Following the fall of the north to rebel groups in April 2012, several terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have been increasing their use of the area as a safe haven for holding hostages and planning operations. While the Government of Mali, assisted by French and African intervention forces, regained control over the major northern cities in early 2013, these terrorist organizations still retain the capacity to launch attacks from their bases in the countryside.


Violent crime in Mali is infrequent, but petty crimes, such as pick pocketing and simple theft, are common in urban areas. Passports and wallets should be closely guarded when in crowded outdoor areas and open-air markets. Individuals are advised against traveling on the Bamako-Dakar railroad and should be vigilant for pickpockets, especially at night. Criminals will not hesitate to use violence if they encounter resistance from their victims. There are sporadic reports of nighttime robberies occurring on the roads outside of the capital; tourists should not drive outside of Bamako at night. Travelers should stay alert, remain in groups, and avoid poorly lit areas after dark.

Violent criminal activity does occasionally occur in Bamako. During and after the coup d’état in March 2012, violent attacks and looting were reported around Bamako. Violent attacks were also reported prior to the coup, most occurring south of the Niger River in the neighborhood of Badalabougou. Most reported attacks took place at night. The majority targeted unaccompanied individuals and ranged from muggings at gun- or knife-point to physical assaults. Many of the attacks occurred near the residences of the victims, both inside and outside of their vehicles.

Sporadic banditry and random carjackings have historically plagued Mali's vast northern desert region and its borders with Mauritania and Niger. While banditry has not targeted U.S. citizens specifically, such acts of violence cannot be predicted. The current instability in the north has increased the risk of carjacking, kidnapping, and banditry. In November 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped from their hotel rooms in Hombori, one of whom was reportedly beheaded in early 2013. The following day, one German was killed while a Dutch citizen, a Swedish citizen, and a South African were kidnapped in Timbuktu. In April 2012, a Swiss national was kidnapped in Timbuktu and seven Algerian diplomats were kidnapped in Gao. In November 2012, a French national was kidnapped near the town of Kayes, close to the Senegalese/Mauritanian border.

Criminal Penalties

While in Mali, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. There are also some acts that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Mali, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going. Persons violating Mali’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mali are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

The U.S. Embassy does not always receive timely notification by Malian authorities of the arrest of U.S. citizens. You are encouraged to carry a copy of your passport with you at all times, so that proof of identity and citizenship are readily available in the event of questioning by local authorities. If arrested, you should always politely insist that you be allowed to contact the U.S. Embassy

Medical Facilities and Health Information

Medical facilities in Mali are extremely limited, especially outside of Bamako. Psychiatric care to the same standard as that practiced in the United States does not exist. The U.S. Embassy in Bamako maintains a list of physicians and other healthcare professionals who have indicated willingness to treat U.S. citizen patients. The Embassy is unable to recommend medical professionals or facilities.

Most U.S. medicines are unavailable; European medications are more easily found, and can be obtained at pharmacies throughout Bamako, and are usually less expensive than those in the United States. Travelers should carry with them an adequate supply of needed medication and prescription drugs, along with copies of the prescriptions, including the generic names for the drugs. Be careful to avoid purchasing potentially dangerous counterfeit medications when buying on the local market in Mali.

Safety and Security

Continued insecurity exists in Mali. Major cities in northern Mali (including Gao and Timbutktu) were liberated by French, Malian, and other international forces in January 2013, but Islamic extremist elements including Ansar al-Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO), and al-Qaida in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), remain active in the region. As noted in the Department of State’s Worldwide Caution, both the United States and the European Union have designated AQIM as a terrorist organization. AQIM has declared its intention to attack Western targets throughout the Sahel (including Mali, Mauritania, and Niger), and has claimed responsibility for numerous recent kidnappings/attempted kidnappings and other violent events in the region. Given these threats, on January 19, the U.S. Embassy advised U.S. citizens in Mali to consider leaving the country.

On January 10, the Islamic extremist elements captured the northern town of Konna, but after French military intervention and heavy fighting, extremists were driven out of the city. On January 11, the Malian government declared a State of Emergency in Mali, allowing the government to take extraordinary measures to deal with the crisis in the north. French, Malian, and other international forces continued to push into northern Mali, liberating Timbuktu and Gao by January 25, but asymmetrical attacks remain a threat throughout the entire country. On February 9-10, military checkpoints in Gao were hit by two separate suicide bombers, injuring one Malian soldier. Also on February 10, French forces repelled an attack on Gao by rebel forces, which led to heavy fighting inside the city.

Large and small street demonstrations occur regularly in Bamako. U.S. citizens should avoid street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times. Although demonstrations can occur spontaneously, large student demonstrations typically begin in January and February and continue through May. You should be particularly vigilant at these times.

For hundreds of years, the Sahel has been used by traffickers of arms, drugs, and persons because of its remoteness and centralized location between Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa. While these elements usually attempt to avoid contact with outsiders, even an accidental encounter could generate a violent response due to the illicit nature of their activities.

The U.S. Embassy in Bamako has restricted all travel outside of the city of Bamako for its direct-hire official employees. Prior to traveling outside of Bamako, U.S. government employees are required to have the written approval of the U.S. Ambassador to Mali. Though this restriction does not apply to private U.S. citizens, it should be taken into account by all U.S. citizens contemplating travel to and within Mali.

Although we place the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to kidnappers. This, along with the vast and remote territory where kidnappers usually hold their victims, limits our ability to assist kidnap victims.

Traffic Safety and Road Conditions

While in a foreign country, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Mali is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

U.S. citizens traveling by road in Mali should exercise extreme caution. Mali has paved roads leading from Bamako to most major cities in the south. During the rainy season from mid-June to mid-September, some unpaved roads may be impassable. On many roads outside of the capital, deep sand and ditches are common. Four-wheel drive vehicles with spare tires and emergency equipment are recommended. Travelers must be prepared to repair their own vehicles should they break down or become stuck. Travelers should also carry plenty of food and water.

We strongly urge all travelers to avoid traveling after dark on roads outside of urban centers. The roads from Gao to Kidal and Menaka, and the roads around Timbuktu, are desert tracks with long isolated stretches. Travel on these roads is strongly discouraged due to the threat of kidnapping and terrorism (see THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY section above).

Drivers travel on the right-hand side of the road in Mali. Speed limits range from 40-60 km per hour (25-40 miles per hour) within towns, to 100 km per hour (60 miles per hour) between cities. Road conditions often require much lower speeds. Due to safety concerns, we recommend against the use of motorbikes, van taxis, and public transportation. Excessive speeds, poorly maintained vehicles, lack of street lighting, and roving livestock pose serious road hazards. Many vehicles are not well-maintained, and headlights are either extremely dim or not used at all, while rear lights or reflectors are often missing or broken. Driving conditions in the capital of Bamako can be particularly dangerous due to limited street lighting, the absence of sidewalks for pedestrians, and the number of motorcycles, mopeds, and bicycles.

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