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Facts

Population: 18,54 million(2017)
Area: 1,241 million km²
Capital City: Bamako


About Mali
Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa, a region geologically identified with the West African Craton. Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi). The sovereign state of Mali consists of eight regions and its borders on the north reach deep into the middle of the Sahara Desert, while the country’s southern part, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Senegal rivers. The country’s economy centers on agriculture and mining. Some of Mali’s prominent natural resources include gold, being the third largest producer of gold in the African continent, and salt.
The territory encompasses three natural zones: the southern cultivated Sudanese zone, central semi-desert Sahelian zone, and northern desert Saharan zone. The terrain is primarily savanna in the south and flat to rolling plains or high plateau (200–500 meters in elevation) in the north. There are rugged hills in the northeast, with elevations of up to 1,000 meters.
The Niger (with 1,693 kilometers in Mali) and Senegal are Mali’s two largest rivers. The Niger is generally described as Mali’s lifeblood, a source of food, drinking water, irrigation, and transportation.
The country’s lowest point is on the Senegal River (23 m) and its highest point is Hombori Tondo (1155 m).


Currency

The currency of Mali is the West African CFA franc, which is denoted by the symbol CFAF, and has an ISO code of XOF. The West African CFA franc broken into 100 subdivisions known as centimes. Mali previously had an independent currency known as Malian franc, that was in use between 1962 and 1984, before readopting the CFA franc as the official currency. Although the CFA franc is subdivided into 100 centimes, the subdivisions are not in circulation in the country.

Climate


Mali is one of the hottest countries in the world. The thermal equator, which matches the hottest spots year-round on the planet based on the mean daily annual temperature, crosses the country Most of Mali receives negligible rainfall and droughts are very frequent Late June to early December is the rainy season in the southernmost area. During this time, flooding of the Niger River is common, creating the Inner Niger Delta. The vast northern desert part of Mali has a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh) with long, extremely hot summers and scarce rainfall which decreases northwards. The central area has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSh) with very high temperatures year-round, a long, intense dry season and a brief, irregular rainy season. The little southern band possesses a tropical wet and dry climate (Köppen climate classification Aw) very high temperatures year-round with a dry season and a rainy season. During the hottest season of the year, temperatures are high throughout the country. Timbuktu, Taoudenni, Araouane, Gao, Kidal, Tessalit are some of the hottest spots on Earth during their warmest months. Kayes, with an average high temperature of about 44° (111.2°) in April is nicknamed “the pressure cooker of Africa” due to his extreme heat year-round. The heat is more extreme to the north in the Sahara Desert; the maximum average high temperature of the year reaches 46 °C (114.8 °F) in Araouane in June and comes close to 48° (118.4°) in the Taoudenni region during July sunshine duration is high in Mali, reaching the highest levels in the northern arid zone with about 3,600 – 3,700 h a year. Mali has overall a hot, sunny and dry climate dominated by the subtropical ridge.


Languages


Mali’s official language is French and over 40 African languages also are spoken by the various ethnic groups. About 80 percent of Mali’s population can communicate in Bambara, which serves as an important lingua franca.
Mali has 12 national languages beside French and Bambara, namely Bomu, Tieyaxo Bozo, Toro So Dogon, Maasina Fulfulde, Hassaniya Arabic, Mamara Senoufo, Kita Maninkakan, Soninke, Koyraboro Senni, Syenara Senoufo, Tamasheq and Xaasongaxango. Each is spoken as a first language primarily by the ethnic group with which it is associated.


Economy


The Central Bank of West African States handles the financial affairs of Mali and additional members of the Economic Community of West African States. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. The average worker’s annual salary is approximately US$1,500.
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, 12 partially privatized, and 20 liquidated. In 2005, the Malian government conceded a railroad company to the Savage Corporation. Two major companies, Societé de Telecommunications du Mali (SOTELMA) and the Cotton Ginning Company (CMDT), were expected to be privatized in 2008.
Between 1992 and 1995, Mali implemented an economic adjustment programme that resulted in economic growth and a reduction in financial imbalances. The programme increased social and economic conditions, and led to Mali joining the World Trade Organization on 31 May 1995.
Mali is also a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). 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 percent annual growth rate.
Mali is a part of the “Franc Zone” (Zone Franc), which means that it uses the CFA franc. Mali is connected with the French government by agreement since 1962 (creation of BCEAO). Today all seven countries of BCEAO (including Mali) are connected to French Central Bank.


Education


Public education in Mali is in principle provided free of charge and is compulsory for nine years between the ages of seven and sixteen. The system encompasses six years of primary education beginning at age 7, followed by six years of secondary education. 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 percent (71 percent of males and 51 percent of females). In the late 1990s, the secondary school enrollment rate was 15 percent (20 percent of males and 10 percent 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 percent, with literacy rates significantly lower among women than men. The University of Bamako, which includes four constituent universities, is the largest university in the country and enrolls approximately 60,000 undergraduate and graduate students.


Health


Mali faces numerous health challenges related to poverty, malnutrition, and inadequate hygiene and sanitation. Mali’s health and development indicators rank among the worst in the world. Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 53.06 years in 2012. In 2000, 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 totalled about US$4 per capita at an average exchange rate.
Efforts have been made to improve nutrition, and reduce associated health problems, by encouraging women to make nutritious versions of local recipes. For example, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Aga Khan Foundation, trained women’s groups to make equinut, a healthy and nutritional version of the traditional recipe di-dèguè (comprising peanut paste, honey and millet or rice flour). The aim was to boost nutrition and livelihoods by producing a product that women could make and sell, and which would be accepted by the local community because of its local heritage.
Medical facilities in Mali are very limited, and medicines are in short supply. Malaria and other arthropod-borne diseases are prevalent in Mali, as are a number of infectious diseases such as cholera and tuberculosis. Mali’s population also suffers from a high rate of child malnutrition and a low rate of immunization. An estimated 1.9 percent of the adult and children population was afflicted with HIV/AIDS that year, among the lowest rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 85–91 percent of Mali’s girls and women have had female genital mutilation (2006 and 2001 data).


Religion


Islam was introduced to West Africa in the 11th century and remains the predominant religion in much of the region. An estimated 90 percent of Malians are Muslim (mostly Sunni,), approximately 5 percent are Christian (about two-thirds Roman Catholic and one-third Protestant) and the remaining 5 percent adhere to indigenous or traditional animist beliefs. Atheism and agnosticism are believed to be rare among Malians, most of whom practice their religion on a daily basis.
The constitution establishes a secular state and provides for freedom of religion, and the government largely respects this right.
Islam as historically practiced in Mali has been malleable and adapted to local conditions; relations between Muslims and practitioners of minority religious faiths have generally been amicable. After the 2012 imposition of sharia rule in northern parts of the country, however, Mali came to be listed high (number 7) in the Christian persecution index published by Open Doors, which described the persecution in the north as severe.


Cuisine


Rice and millet are the staples of Malian cuisine, which is heavily based on cereal grains. Grains are generally prepared with sauces made from edible leaves, such as spinach or baobab, with tomato peanut sauce, and may be accompanied by pieces of grilled meat (typically chicken, mutton, beef, or goat). Malian cuisine varies regionally. Other popular dishes include fufu, jollof rice, and maafe.


Health


Vaccinations
Although it is rarely enforced, you are technically required to have an international vaccination card showing immunization against yellow fever. It is also recommended to get Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, typhoid, and meningitis vaccinations. You may also consider getting a polio vaccination due to the recent outbreak of polio in Northern Nigeria that has spread around the region.
Malaria
Mali is highly endemic for malaria, including S. falciparum malaria, the most acute variety. All travelers should plan to take a malaria prophylaxis throughout their time in Mali (mephloquine and Malarone are the most common). The other main precautions are to use insect repellent in the evenings and to sleep under a mosquito net in all but the fancy, sealed, air-conditioned hotels. This will significantly lower your exposure to malaria as the mosquitoes that carry the parasite are only active at night, but you would want to take these precautions even without the risk of malaria simply to avoid being covered in itchy mosquito bites! You will almost never see or be bothered by mosquitoes during the day.
Food and water
Stay away from dirty food and water. The rule “cook it peel it or forget it” should be followed. Also water should only be drunk out of sealed bottles or after it is sterilized through boiling or chemical utensils. The food is another issue. It’s sometimes difficult to know if it’s cooked long enough. Also the, to Westerners, unusual spices are sometimes the cause for sickness, especially diarrhoea. Also expect little stones or bits of grit in the meal, especially the local couscous (this doesn’t mean it’s unsafe though, as it has been cooked long and thoroughly). For the traveller the main danger is diarrhoea. For mild diarrhoea you should be sure to get lots of rest, drink lots of clean water and eat soft plain foods. If the diarrhoea is severe or lasts several days, be prepared to take antibiotics. During the illness the body will lose a lot of water and salt. Coca Cola (sugar and water) and pretzel sticks (salt) are available everywhere and do a good job of getting travellers back to full strength. There are also instant powders that have the necessary glucose and salts available to purchase.


Transport

By bus
The main cities along the paved road into the north are connected via bus (Bamako, Segou, San, Mopti, Gao). A separate paved loop runs through the south (Bamako, Bougouni, Sikasso, Koutiala, Segou) There are many different companies with different schedules but they all have more or less the same prices. Normally a ride to Mopti (600km, half the way up), endures approximately nine hours; a ride to Gao at least 12. All times are very rough, however, and few bus companies will even give you an estimated arrival time as different drivers drive different speeds and it is not improbable that the bus breaks down and needs a repair or stops to help another bus. It is usually possible to make a reservation several days before, recommended during the tourist season, though one rarely has a problem just showing up 30-60 minutes before the bus leaves. More reliable companies include Bittar, Bani and Banimonotie (Sikasso region) among others.
By taxi brousse
To get around one can take the “Taxi – Brousse”, the bush taxis. They are the main connection between towns which aren’t connected via bus. They are very slow and they sometimes break down or stop to help other broken down taxis. So sometimes the ride takes longer than expected. Unlike the buses, these rarely run on a set schedule, so you generally just need to show up at the station (in a larger town) or sit by the roadside (in smaller villages) and wait for the next to come along – locals may be able to give you some idea what to expect.
By taxi
In any larger city, taxis will be plentiful and are usually an easy way for the tourist to get where they are going without trying to figure out the local public transport system (if one even exists). Be prepared to bargain, as they will generally try to overcharge you – in Bamako XOF1000 should get you anywhere in the city during the day (or up to XOF1500 at night), while crossing the river will be XOF1500-2000. Also, tell the driver clearly if you do not know the location of the place you want to go, as they are rarely forthcoming about admitting that they don’t know it and will often expect you to give directions, especially if it is not a popular or common destination.


Politics and government


Until the military coup of 22 March 2012 and a second military coup in December 2012, Mali was a constitutional democracy governed by the Constitution of 12 January 1992, which was amended in 1999. The constitution provides for a separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The system of government can be described as “semi-presidential”. 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 a chief of state 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.

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