MALI: an Introduction

This land gave birth to the largest empires in west Africa (MANDING/MANDE, GHANA and SONGHOY), which it dominated more than a millennium. The most famous names in the history of this immense west African territory include SOUNDIATA KEITA, KANKAN MOUSSA, SONNI ALI BER, EL HADJI OUMAR TALL, and SAMORY TOURE.

People from MALI take exceptional pride in the greatness of yesteryear's imposing past, and use it as a springboard for the future.

The quiet power of the river NIGER will take you to the discovery of people, history, and tour sites of the country. You will appreciate the richness of this generous and demanding land — historic crucible and source of civilization.

MALI is located in west Africa, having borders with MAURITANIA and ALIGERIA to the north, NIGER to the east, BURKINA FASO and IVORY COAST to the south, GUINEA to the south-west, and SENEGAL to the west.

As a country at the crossroads of north Africa and sub-Saharan Africa,MALI gets its prestige from its glorious history. Today, it has today 4 tour sites classified according to the heritage of its people: DJENNE, TIMBUKTU or (TOMBOUCTU ), DOGON COUNTRY, and ASKIA�S GRAVE.


Ancient intellectual capital and commercial metropolis, TIMBUKTU was founded in the 12th century by TOUAREGS around a well TIM, the keeper of which was named BUKTU. TIMBUKTU has been preserved through the ages and many historical monuments remain from its splendid past. The DJENGUEREBER was built by the king, KANKAN MOUSSA. The MOSQUE SANKORE was a great medieval center for the study of theology and law, whose doctors were rivals of the greatest universities of CAIRO and FEZ. The House of Explorers Museum is among other notable sites.


Human occupation has been traced back to almost 300 BC in the region of Djenne, where the river BANI created small islands and complex fluvial systems. The actual city of Djenne was founded in the 4th century. Built in 1280, the great mosque of Djenne is the largest mud brick building in the world. Djenne has been classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.


Protected by the cliffs of Bandiagara, the Dogons have preserved the foundation of their civilization. Their strength comes from social cohesion based on complex philosophy and religion, the main rule of which is the cult of ancestors. Their particular cosmogony will charm you by its originality and its richness.


The great richness of the tourist industry in MALI is the Malians themselves, meaning people from the living communities and villages prove Malian�s hospitality. The "DIATIGUIYA" (Bambara word for hospitality) is demonstrated by giving a lot of attention to the visitor, by listening to him/her, sharing what you have with him/her, and providing protection.

The population of Mali is about 12,000,000 — split between over 20 ethnic groups:

  • Mande 50% ( Bambara, Malinke ,Soninke )
  • Peul 17%
  • Voltaic 12%
  • Songhoy 6%
  • Touareg & Moor 10%
  • Others 5%

It's exceptional in the African continent that this juxtaposition of more than 20 ethnic groups have been able to cohabit for centuries with such a national mind.


Subtropical arid, hot and dry, from February to June. Rainy, humid and mild, from June to November. Cool and dry, from November to February.


Gold, phosphate, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, gypsum, granite, hydropower, bauxite, iron ore, manganese, and tin. Copper deposits are known but not exploited.


Mali is a landlocked country divided into three natural zones: the southern, cultivated Sudanese; the central, semi-arid Sahelian; and the northern, arid Sahara.


Ninety percent of the population are Muslim; 9% indigenous beliefs; 1% Christian.


The official language is French. Eighty percent of the population speaks Bambara, and there are numerous other African languages represented.

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