Fast Facts:

1. It is a landlocked country in West Africa and is the 8th largest country in Africa.

2. Its capital and largest city is Bamako. It is one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa.

3. Present-day Mali was once part of three pre-colonial Sudanic empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade from the 7th to 16th Centuries: Songhai Empire, Ghana Empire and Mali Empire. The Mali Empire was the largest, renowned for the wealth of its rulers, especially Mansa Musa who was the wealthiest individual of the Middle Ages.

4. The name Mali is taken from the Mali Empire and means “the place where the king lives”.

5. French is the official language of Mali. It also has 13 national languages: Bambara, Bomu, Tieyaxo Bozo, Toro So Dogon, Maasina Fulfulde, Hassaniya Arabic, Mamara Senoufo, Kita Maninkakan, Soninke, Koyraboro Senni, Syenara Senoufo, Tamasheq and Xaasongaxango.

6. Major ethnic groups: Mande (50%), Fula (16%), Voltaic (Senufo / Bwa) (13%), Tuareg / Moor (10%), Songhai (6%)

6. Major religions: Islam (95%), Traditional religions (3%), Christianity (2%)

7. It gained independence from France in 1960, after 68 years of French colonial rule.

8. It is Africa’s 3rd largest gold producer. It has many other mineral deposits that are not commercially exploited, including iron, bauxite, manganese, lithium, uranium, tungsten, tin, lead, copper, and zinc.

9.   It is one of the poorest countries in Africa.

10. Mali is largely flat and arid, with the Niger River running through its interior and functioning as the main trading and transport artery.

11. It has 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites: Timbuktu, Bandiagara Escarpment, the Tomb of Askia and Djenné. The Great Mosque at Djenné is the largest mud brick building in the world.

12. Tourism is not well-developed due to infrastructure and security issues, but primarily focuses on its cultural, historical and nature sites. There are many interesting places to visit, including the Great Mosque of Djenné, Dogon Plateau, Mount Tenakourou, Djinguereber Mosque, Ahmed Baba House, Tanezrouft desert, Boucle du Baoule National Park, Adrar des Ifoghas desert, Gouina Falls, Mamelon de Sikasso, and Sidi Yahya Mosque.

13. The world famous Festival au Desert, an annual concert showcasing traditional Tuareg music and music from around the world, has been put on hold since 2013 due to security concerns.

Map of Mali
Video credit: Top Tourist Places
Video credit: UNESCO