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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.