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Where Is Mali and What
Is It Known For?


Men cross a busy street in Kayes, Mali.

Mali, officially the Republic of Mali (French: République du Mali), is a landlocked country in Western Africa. It borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with a population more than 14 million. Its capital is Bamako.

Mali is generally low-lying. Northern regions lie within the Sahara desert; to the south are marshes and savanna grassland. Rainfall is unreliable. Most of the population lives along the Niger and Falémé rivers.

Present-day Mali was once part of three West African empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade: the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire (from which Mali is named), and the Songhai Empire. In the late 19th century, during the Scramble for Africa, France seized control of Mali making it a part of French Sudan. French Sudan (then known as the Sudanese Republic) gained independence in 1959 with Senegal, as the Mali Federation. A year later, following Senegal's withdrawal from the federation, the Sudanese Republic declared itself the independent Republic of Mali. After a long period of one-party rule, a 1991 coup led to the writing of a new constitution and the establishment of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state.

Exports include cotton, livestock and gold. Mali relies heavily on foreign aid. About half the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.

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