Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked nation in Western Africa. Mali is the seventh largest country in Africa, bordering Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Cote d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west.

Background 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 military coup that ushered in a period of democratic rule. President Alpha Konare won Mali's first two democratic presidential elections in 1992 and 1997. In keeping with Mali's two-term constitutional limit, he stepped down in 2002 and was succeeded by Amadou Toumani Toure, who was elected to a second term in 2007 elections that were widely judged to be free and fair. Malian returnees from Libya in 2011 exacerbated tensions in northern Mali, and Tuareg ethnic militias started a rebellion in January 2012. Low- and mid-level soldiers, frustrated with the poor handling of the rebellion overthrew Toure on 22 March. Intensive mediation efforts led by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) returned power to a civilian administration in April with the appointment of interim President Dioncounda Traore. The post-coup chaos led to rebels expelling the Malian military from the three northern regions of the country and allowed Islamic militants to set up strongholds. Hundreds of thousands of northern Malians fled the violence to southern Mali and neighboring countries, exacerbating regional food insecurity in host communities. An international military intervention to retake the three northern regions began in January 2013 and within a month most of the north had been retaken. In a democratic presidential election conducted in July and August of 2013, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was elected president in the second round.



Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Mali
  • conventional short form: Mali
  • local long form: Republique de Mali
  • local short form: Mali
  • former: French Sudan and Sudanese Republic


  • name: Bamako
  • geographic coordinates: 12 39 N, 8 00 W
  • time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 22 September 1960 (from France)

Government Type:

  • republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (since 4 September 2013)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Moussa Mara (since 9 April 2014)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Supreme Court


People & Society


  • 16,455,903 (global rank: 67)
  • growth rate: 3% (global rank: 12)


  • noun: Malian(s)
  • adjective: Mali

Major Cities:

  • Bamako (capital): 2.037 million

Ethnic Groups:

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


  • Muslim 94.8%, Christian 2.4%, Animist 2%, none 0.5%, unspecified 0.3%


  • French (official), Bambara 46.3%, Peul/foulfoulbe 9.4%, Dogon 7.2%, Maraka/soninke 6.4%, Malinke 5.6%, Sonrhai/djerma 5.6%, Minianka 4.3%, Tamacheq 3.5%, Senoufo 2.6%, unspecified 0.6%, other 8.5%

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 54.95 years (global rank: 206)
  • male: 53.12 years
  • female: 56.83 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 104.34 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 2)
  • male: 111.04 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 97.44 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 0.9% (2012 est.) (global rank: 50)
  • people living with AIDS: 100,300 (2012 est.) (global rank: 44)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 33.4%
  • male: 43.1%
  • female: 24.6%



Overview: Among the 25 poorest countries in the world, Mali is a landlocked country that depends on gold mining and agricultural exports for revenue. Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger River and about 65% of its 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. Mali remains dependent on foreign aid. 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. Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities. Mali is developing its iron ore extraction industry to diversify foreign exchange earnings away from gold. Mali has invested in tourism but security issues hurt the industry. Mali experienced economic growth of about 5% per year between 1996-2011, but the global recession, a military coup, and terrorist activity in the north of the country caused a decline in output in 2012; growth resumed at a slow pace in 2013. The main threat to Mali’s economy is a return to physical insecurity. Other long term threats to the economy include high population growth, corruption, a weak infrastructure, and low levels of human capital.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $18.9 billion (global rank: 138)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $1,100 (global rank: 216)
  • real growth rate: 4.8% (global rank: 61)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 38.5%, industry: 24.4%, services: 37%


  • currency: Communaute Financiere Africain Franc (XOF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 500.7


  • population below poverty line: 36.1%
  • unemployment rate: 30%

Agricultural Products:

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


  • food processing; construction; phosphate and gold mining

Exports Commodities:

  • cotton, gold, livestock

Imports Commodities:

  • petroleum, machinery and equipment, construction materials, foodstuffs, textiles




  • interior Western Africa, southwest of Algeria, north of Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso, west of Niger


  • total: 1,240,192 sq km (global rank: 24)
  • land: 1,220,190 sq km
  • water: 20,002 sq km
  • comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Texas


  • subtropical to arid; hot and dry (February to June); rainy, humid, and mild (June to November); cool and dry (November to February)

Land Use:

  • arable land: 5.53%
  • permanent crops: 0.1%
  • other: 94.37%

Natural Resources:

  • gold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, gypsum, granite, hydropower

Current Environmental Issues:

  • deforestation; soil erosion; desertification; inadequate supplies of potable water; poaching


Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: demarcation is underway with Burkina Faso
  • refugees (country of origin): 12,897 (Mauritania)
  • human trafficking: Mali is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; women and girls are forced into domestic servitude, agricultural labor, and support roles in gold mines, as well as subjected to sex trafficking; Malian boys are found in conditions of forced labor in agricultural settings, gold mines, and the informal commercial sector, as well as forced begging both within Mali and neighboring countries; Malians and other Africans who travel through Mali to Mauritania, Algeria, or Libya in hopes of reaching Europe are particularly at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking; men and boys, primarily of Songhai ethnicity, are subjected to the longstanding practice of debt bondage in the salt mines of Taoudenni in northern Mali; some members of Mali's black Tamachek community are subjected to traditional slavery-related practices, and this involuntary servitude reportedly has extended to their children; reports indicate that non-governmental armed groups operating in northern Mali recruited children as combatants, cooks, porters, guards, spies, and sex slaves

Published: Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali, is a landlocked nation in Western Africa. Mali is the seventh largest country in Africa, bordering Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Cote d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west.