Mali is the eighth largest country in Africa and one of the poorest in the world.
With great ethnic diversity, architectural and musical wealth, it was part of the three most important empires in Africa that controlled the trans-Saharan trade in gold, salt and slaves.
If you want to know some interesting facts about Mali, below, you will find a list of 25 curiosities about Mali.
1 – Mali is landlocked
It borders Algeria to the north, Niger to the east, Mauritania and Senegal to the west, and the Ivory Coast, Guinea and Burkina Faso to the south. Mali’s lands are irrigated by the Senegal River and the Niger River, where up to 200 species of fish can be found, with fishing being one of the country’s main sources of income.
2 – The Malian territory was the seat of three empires
The Ghana Empire was the first, founded in the 8th century by the Soninke, being the first black empire in West Africa. Later, the Mali Empire would be formed, with Djenné and Timbuktu being the main centers of trade and finally, in the 14th century, it would be replaced by the Songhai Empire, originally from Nigeria until the 16th century.
All of them controlled the trans-Saharan gold and salt trade.
3 – Mali was colonized by France
At the end of the 19th century, Mali was colonized by France, becoming part of the French Sudan. In 1959 it joined Senegal, forming the Federation of Mali which proclaimed its independence in 1960.
Since then, the country has suffered rebellions, years of dictatorship and armed conflicts.
In 2012, conflicts broke out in the north of the country at the hands of Tuaregs who were seeking independence. In 2013 French troops intervened and in 2015 a peace treaty was signed.
4 – Mali is a secular state
Islam is the dominant religion. 80% of the population is Muslim, mostly Sunni – 10% Christian and 10% animist.
Islam is moderate and tolerant.
5 – The official language is French
But the most spoken is the Bambara. Various dialects are also spoken.
6 – Diversity of ethnic groups coexist in Mali
Bambara, Fulani, Sarakole and the Senufo, being the Dogons, who live in the center of the country, the most important.
7 – The flag of Mali bears the pan-African colors
Green, yellow, and red. So do Ethiopia, Ghana and Guinea.
8 – Cotton is the most exported product
Mainly to Senegal and Ivory Coast
9 – It is the third gold producing country in Africa
It is mined in the southern part of the country and is the third largest gold production rate in Africa after South Africa and Ghana.
10 – Poverty in Mali is extreme
Mali has the third highest birth rate in the world.
Health and development indicators are among the lowest in the world. A high percentage does not have access to drinking water and sanitation. Diseases such as malaria, cholera or tuberculosis are common.
11 – Mali has the largest sacred building made of mud in the world
This is the Djenné Mosque, built in 1907 and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Every April, a festival called Crépissage is held, in which the residents of Djenné rebuild the walls with mud.
The visit for non-Muslims was banned after it was used for a Vogue magazine photo shoot featuring scantily clad women
12 – Timbuktu was the center of Islamic culture in Africa
Being a historical enclave of the trans-Saharan trade route during the 15th and 16th centuries.
It is a city made of mud founded by the Tuareg in the year 1100. Sixteen of its mausoleums are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Today it remains the economic and cultural center of the country, although, due to armed conflicts in the 2012 Tuareg rebellion, much of the city’s historical monuments were destroyed by Islamist groups.
13 – Mali has a great musical tradition
Musical traditions stem from the griots, who convey the country’s history through music.
Mali has great artists of recognized worldwide prestige such as Salif Keita, Toumani Diabate, Ali Farka Touré, Amadou & Mariam or Habib Koité.
14 – It has part of the largest desert in the world
More than half of Mali, in the north of the country, is made up of the Sahara desert.
15 – It is one of the most dangerous countries in the world
It is among the top ten most dangerous countries in the world.