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Mali Travel Guide - Travel S Helper

Mali

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Mali is a landlocked nation in West Africa. Its official name is the Republic of Mali (French: République du Mali). Mali is Africa’s eighth-largest country, with little more than 1,240,000 square kilometers (480,000 sq mi). Mali has a population of 14.5 million people. Bamako is the capital. Mali is divided into eight regions, and its northern boundaries extend deep into the Sahara Desert, while the country’s southern area, where the majority of the population lives, is bounded by the Niger and Senegal rivers. Agriculture and fishing are the mainstays of the country’s economy. Mali’s notable natural resources include gold (the country is the third greatest producer of gold on the African continent) and salt. Around half of the population lives on less than $1.25 (USD) per day, the international poverty level. The bulk of Muslims (55 percent) are non-denominational.

Mali was formerly a member of three West African empires that dominated trans-Saharan trade: the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire (after which Mali was called), and the Songhai Empire. Mathematics, astronomy, literature, and art flourished throughout its golden period. At its height in 1300, the Mali Empire included a territory almost twice the size of modern-day France and extended all the way to Africa’s west coast. During the Scramble for Africa in the late nineteenth century, France took control of Mali, including it into French Sudan. French Sudan (formerly known as the Sudanese Republic) merged with Senegal in 1959, becoming the Mali Federation in 1960. Following Senegal’s exit from the federation, the Sudanese Republic proclaimed independence as the Republic of Mali. Following a lengthy era of one-party control, a coup in 1991 resulted in the creation of a new constitution and the emergence of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state.

An armed conflict erupted in northern Mali in January 2012, which Tuareg rebels gained control of by April and announced the independence of a new state, Azawad. The crisis was exacerbated by a military coup in March and subsequent combat between Tuareg and Islamist rebels. In January 2013, the French military started Opération Serval in reaction to Islamist territory advances. A month later, Malian and French soldiers had retaken the majority of the north. Presidential elections were conducted on July 28, 2013, with a second round run-off on August 11, and parliamentary elections on November 24 and December 15, 2013.

Climate

The climate of the nation varies from tropical savannah (trees and grass, with tree density increasing as one goes south) to dry desert in the north, with the Sahel in between. Droughts are common throughout most of the nation because of the lack of rainfall. The rainy season runs from late May or early June (depending on where you are in the country) through mid or late October or early November. Flooding of the Niger River is frequent at this period, resulting in the Inner Niger Delta. From early November to early February, there is a colder time after the rainy season, when many plants are still green. The hot, dry season lasts from mid-February until the rains arrive in May or June, with daytime temperatures peaking in March and April. The weather is hot and dry at this time of year.

Geography

Mali is a West African landlocked nation situated southwest of Algeria. It is located between 10° and 25° north latitude and 13° and 5° east longitude. Mali is bordered on the north by Algeria, on the east by Niger, on the south by Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire, on the west by Senegal and Mauritania, and on the south-west by Guinea.

Mali is the world’s 24th biggest nation, with 1,242,248 square kilometers (479,635 square miles), including the disputed area of Azawad. It is about the same size as South Africa or Angola. The southern Sahara Desert covers the majority of the nation, resulting in a very hot and dusty Sudanian savanna zone. Mali is mainly flat, rising to sand-covered undulating northern plains. In the northeast, the Adrar des Ifoghas massif may be found.

Mali is located in the arid zone and is one of the world’s hottest nations. The nation is crossed by the thermal equator, which corresponds to the warmest places on the globe year-round based on the mean daily yearly temperature. The majority of Mali gets little rain, and droughts are common. The rainy season in the southernmost region runs from late June to early December. Flooding of the Niger River is frequent at this period, resulting in the Inner Niger Delta. Mali’s wide northern desert region has a hot desert climate (Köppen climatic classification (BWh) with lengthy, very hot summers and little rainfall that diminishes as one travels north. The central region has a hot semi-arid climate (Köppen climatic classification (BSh) with extremely high temperatures all year, a lengthy, severe dry season, and sporadic rains. The climate in the small southern band is tropical wet and dry (Köppen climatic classification (Aw) with extremely high temperatures all year and a dry and rainy season.

Gold, uranium, phosphates, kaolinite, salt, and limestone are the most extensively exploited natural resources of Mali. Mali’s uranium reserves are expected to be in excess of 17,400 tonnes (measured + indicated + inferred). A new uranium-mineralized north zone was discovered in 2012. Mali is confronted with a number of environmental issues, including desertification, deforestation, soil erosion, and a lack of drinkable water.

Demographics

Mali’s population was projected to be 14.5 million in July 2009. Malians are mostly rural (68 percent in 2002), and 5–10 percent of the population is nomadic. More than 90% of the population resides in the south of the nation, particularly in Bamako, which has a population of over one million people.

In 2007, about 48 percent of Malians were under the age of 12, 49 percent were between the ages of 15 and 64, and 3 percent were 65 and over. The average age of the participants was 15.9 years. In 2014, the birth rate was 45.53 per 1,000, while the total fertility rate was 6.4 children per woman in 2012. In 2007, there were 16.5 fatalities per 1,000 people. The average life expectancy at birth was 53.06 years (51.43 for males and 54.73 for females). Mali has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the world, with 106 fatalities per 1,000 live births in 2007.

Ethnicity

Mali’s population is made up of people from several sub-Saharan ethnic groupings. The Bambara (Bambara: Bamanankaw) are the biggest ethnic group in the country, accounting for 36.5 percent of the population.

The Bambara, Soninké, Khassonké, and Malinké (also known as Mandinka), all members of the Mandégroup, account for half of Mali’s population. The Fula (French: Peul; Fula: Fule) (17%), Voltaic (12%), Songhai (6%), and Tuareg and Moor (3% each) are other important tribes (10 percent).

Due to the historical expansion of slavery in the area, there is a divide in the far north between Berber-descendent Tuareg nomad groups and the darker-skinned Bella or Tamasheq people. Slave descendants account for an estimated 800,000 individuals in Mali. Slavery has existed in Mali for millennia. Slavery was maintained by the Arabic people long into the twentieth century, until it was abolished by French authorities during the mid-century. Certain generational slavery connections still exist, and some estimates suggest that around 200,000 Malians are still enslaved today.

Although Mali has had relatively excellent inter-ethnic relations based on a long history of cohabitation, there is considerable hereditary slavery and bondage, as well as ethnic conflict between the settled Songhai and the nomadic Tuaregs in the north. Following a reaction against the northern population following independence, Mali is currently in a position where both groups accuse the other of discrimination. This dispute also plays a part in the ongoing Northern Mali war, which pits Tuaregs against the Malian government, as well as Tuaregs against extremist Islamists attempting to impose sharia law.

Religion

In the 11th century, Islam was brought to West Africa, and it is now the dominant religion in most of the area. Around 90% of Malians are Muslims (mainly Sunni and Ahmadiyya), 5% are Christians (around two-thirds Roman Catholic and one-third Protestant), and the other 5% practice indigenous or traditional animist beliefs. Atheism and agnosticism are said to be uncommon among Malians, who devote their lives to their faith.

The constitution creates a secular state and guarantees religious freedom, which the government generally upholds.

Islam has always been moderate, tolerant, and adaptable to local circumstances in Mali, and relations between Muslims and adherents of other religious faiths have been usually cordial.

However, after the installation of sharia law in northern Mali in 2012, the nation was ranked high (number 7) in Open Doors’ Christian Persecution Index, which characterized the persecution in the north as severe.

Economy

Mali’s and other members of the Economic Community of West African States’ financial issues are handled by the Central Bank of West African States. Mali is one of the world’s poorest nations. The average yearly wage for a laborer is about $1,500 USD.

Beginning in 1988, Mali began to restructure its economy by signing agreements with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Mali’s government significantly restructured state businesses from 1988 to 1996. Since the agreement, 16 businesses have been privatized, 12 have been partly privatized, and 20 have been liquidated. The Malian government gave the Savage Corporation a railroad business in 2005. In 2008, the Cotton Ginning Company (CMDT) and the Societé de Telecommunications du Mali (SOTELMA) were anticipated to be privatized.

Mali undertook an economic adjustment program between 1992 and 1995 that resulted in economic development and a decrease in financial imbalances. Mali joined the World Trade Organization on May 31, 1995, as a result of the program, which improved social and economic circumstances.

Mali is also a member of the Organization for African Business Law Harmonization (OHADA). Since then, the gross domestic product (GDP) has increased. In 2002, the GDP was US$3.4 billion, and by 2005, it had risen to US$5.8 billion, representing an annual growth rate of 17.6 percent.

Mali is a member of the “French Zone” (Zone Franc), which means it utilizes the CFA franc as its currency. Since 1962, Mali has had an agreement with the French government (creation of BCEAO). All seven BCEAO nations (including Mali) are now linked to the French Central Bank.

Things To Know Before Traveling To Mali

Language

The official language is French, although 80 percent of the population speaks Bambara (or Bamanakan in the language), as well as a variety of other African languages (Peulh/Fula, Dogon, and Tamashek, the Tuareg language). Outside of major cities, few people speak French, and Bambara is becoming more uncommon in certain areas. Only a few individuals are able to communicate in English.

Respect

It is important to greet individuals. You should learn how to welcome people in French or, better yet, in Bambara. Even if you just purchase fruit or bread, vendors should be treated with respect. It’s crucial to demonstrate an overall interest in the other person, so inquire about their family, job, children, and so on. “A va” (It’s all right) is the easy response. The interlocutor should not provide a negative response!

  • “Bonjour. ça va?” (Good morning. Are you all right)?
  • “Et votre famille?” (And your family?)
  • “Et vos enfants?” (And your kids?)
  • “Et votre travail?” (And your job?).

How To Travel To Mali

By plane Air France flies nonstop from Paris Charles de Gaulle to Bamako on a daily basis (and return). Royal Air Maroc is a bit less expensive than Air France and offers daily flights from Europe and the United States to Casablanca, Morocco. Smaller airlines, such as Point Afrique, provide...

How To Travel Around Mali

By bus The major cities along the paved route to the north are linked by bus (Bamako, Segou, San, Mopti, Gao). The south is served by a separate paved loop (Bamako, Bougouni, Sikasso, Koutiala, Segou) There are many businesses with varying timetables, but they all charge about the same amount....

Visa & Passport Requirements for Mali

Citizens of Algeria, Andorra, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mauritania, Monaco, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Tunisia are not needed to get a visa. To enter Mali from any other country, a visa must be acquired before...

Destinations in Mali

Regions in Mali Southern Mali Kayes Koulikoro - Because it contains the capital, Bamako, it is by far Mali's most populated province. Mopti - The majority of Mali's travel treasures are centered in this region: Hombori's distinctive rock formations, Djenné's architecture, and Dogon Country's magnificent escarpment settlements. Segou Sikasso Northern Mali Gao - This area, which borders...

Accommodation & Hotels in Mali

There are a variety of lodging choices available, each with its own price and quality. You may expect to spend USD60-100 per night (and more) for a hotel that meets western standards of good to great. On the other hand, a bed or mattress (typically with mosquito net and...

Things To See in Mali

Sadly, during their control of Timbuktu, a radical Islamist group substantially damaged the renowned shrines of Timbuktu and the Muhave. The first wave of demolition took place in June-July 2012, and soon after the AU intervention's plans were authorized, they promised to demolish every last mausoleum, shrine, and "blasphemous"...

Food & Drinks in Mali

Food in Mali Rice with sauce (typically peanut "tiga diga na," tomato/onion/oil, or leaf/okra based - generally with some fish or meat if bought or made for visitors) is the most ubiquitous Malian meal. Another Malian staple is "to," a gelatinous maize or millet meal eaten with sauce, but it's...

Money & Shopping in Mali

Mali uses the West African CFA franc (XOF). Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Senegal, and Togo all use it. While technically distinct from the Central African CFA franc (XAF), the two currencies are used interchangeably at par in all nations that utilize the CFA franc (XAF &...

History Of Mali

Mali was formerly a member of three powerful West African empires that dominated trans-Saharan commerce in gold, salt, slaves, and other valuables. There were no fixed geographical borders or ethnic identities in these Sahelian kingdoms. The Ghana Empire, which ruled West Africa from the eighth century until 1078, was...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Mali

Stay Safe in Mali Because Mali is politically fragile, lawlessness is widespread. Mali was struck by a political crisis and civil war in June 2012, temporarily dividing the nation into two parts: the north, known as "Azawad," and held by a group of Islamist rebels, and the south, which was...

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