- Bamako; 1,264,000
- 1,240,192 square kilometers (478,841 square miles)
- French, Bambara, numerous African languages
- Muslim, Christian, indigenous beliefs
- CFA Franc
- Life Expectancy:
- GDP per Capita:
- U.S. $900
- Literacy Percent:
Mali Facts Flag
The landlocked West African country of Mali is mostly desert or semidesert. Trans-Saharan caravans once enriched Timbuktu and Gao, trading hubs on the Niger River. Descendants of the empires of Ghana, Malinke, and Songhai came under French rule in the late 19th century and gained independence in 1960. In the 1980s economic woes worsened by drought and famine led to deregulation and privatization. Desertification forces nomadic herders south to the subsistence-farming belt. With increased gold mining operations, Mali is becoming a major gold exporter.
- Industry: Food processing; construction; phosphate and gold mining
- Agriculture: Cotton, millet, rice, corn; cattle
- Exports: Cotton, gold, livestock
—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition
Get inspired with our Ultimate Adventure Bucket List, a collection of 40 trips that range from totally extreme to actually doable.
Get facts, photos, and travel tips for Timbuktu, a World Heritage site in Mali.
Africa's Danakil Desert is brutal, but for the Afar people it's a place to die for.
Subscribe to Nat Geo Traveler
Available in print and for iPad®! See destinations come alive with 360-degree photos, videos, and more!