Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa. Around 21.4 million people live in the approximately 1.24 million km² state (as of July 2023). Its capital is Bamako. Most of the population lives in the southern part of the country, which is crossed by the two rivers Niger and Senegal. The north extends deep into the Sahara and is hardly populated.

Throughout history, there have been three empires in what is now Mali that controlled trans-Saharan trade: the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire, after which the modern state is named, and the Songhai Empire. Mali's golden age saw the flourishing of Islamic scholarship, mathematics, astronomy, literature and art. In the late 19th century, Mali became part of the colony of French Sudan. Along with neighboring Senegal, the Mali Federation gained independence in 1960. Shortly thereafter, the federation collapsed and the country declared independence under its current name. After a long one-party rule, a military coup in 1991 led to the adoption of a new constitution and the establishment of a democratic multi-party state.

In January 2012, the armed conflict in northern Mali escalated again. In the course of this, the Tuareg rebels proclaimed the secession of the state of Azawad from Mali. The conflict was further complicated by the March 2012 coup and subsequent fighting between Islamists and the Tuareg. In view of the Islamists' territorial gains, Operation Serval began in January 2013, during which Malian and French troops recaptured most of the north. The UN Security Council supports the peace process by sending MINUSMA. After the recent, third military coup in May 2021, the country is led by a transitional military government. This is internationally criticized, among other things, for not holding elections and for maintaining close relations with authoritarian Russia.

A new constitution was approved again in 2023.

The main economic sectors are agriculture, fishing and, increasingly, mining. The most important mineral resources include gold, of which Mali is the third largest producer in Africa, and salt. About half of the population lives below the poverty line. The United Nations Development Program lists Mali as one of the countries with low levels of human development.

Mali has long traditions in cultural areas. Especially in music, dance, literature and visual arts, it leads an independent cultural life that is known far beyond its borders.



Map of Mali.
North: Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu (Tombouctou) regions
South: Kayes, Koulikoro, Segou and Sikasso regions
The Mopti region lies at the junction of the two major regions. There are a variety of sights here, including: the historic buildings of Djenné, the Dogon villages nestled on the rocks of Bandiagara and the unique rock formations of the table mountain Hombori Tondo (at 1153, Mali's highest mountain)



Bamako – capital (2 million inhabitants)


More destinations

The land of the Dogon around the Falaise de Bandiagara (World Heritage Site)


Getting here

Entry requirements
All nationals who do not come from ECOWAS countries require a permit to enter the country. Responsible for the exhibition in Germany is:

Consular Department of the Embassy of Mali, Kurfürstendamm 72, 10709 Berlin. Tel.: +49 30 31 99 88 3. Tourists must submit a hotel reservation or invitation with the name and address of the person in question. Business travel invitation letter and/or company certificate. You are also responsible for Austria, but you can pick up the visa you applied for in Berlin at the Honorary Consulate Lenaugasse 19, 1080 Vienna: Mon, Fri, Sat 12.30-2.30 p.m. Open: Application Mon.-Fri. 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., collection only Tuesdays, Thursdays. Price: Tourist, single €50 (1 month), multiple €70 (3 months), express surcharge, 1 day processing €50. Bank transfer or check or cash in the letter.

Section consulaire de l'Ambassade, Route de Pré-Bois 20, Immeuble ICC 1er étage Porte G, 1215 Genève 15 Aéroport. Responsible for French-speaking Switzerland and Ticino. German speakers should contact the consulate St. Jakobs-Strasse 30, CH-4002 Bâle (, Mon.-Thurs. 7.30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Friday to 12.30 p.m.

For overland travelers, it may make more sense to obtain a visa in neighboring countries. Representatives can be found in Dakar, Niamey, Nouakchott, Conakry and Rabat.

Duty free quantities
Very generous with 1000 cigarettes or 250 cigars or 2kg of tobacco. Plus 2 liters of alcohol.

The country's largest airport is Bamako-Sénou International Airport (IATA: BKO). There are flights there with Air France via Paris-Charles de Gaulle, with Turkish Airlines via Istanbul, with Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa, with Royal Air Maroc via Casablanca and with Tunisair via Tunis. The fastest connections from Frankfurt am Main or Munich take just under 10 hours each way and cost just under €700 there and back, from Vienna around 9 hours and over €800, from Zurich 11 hours and €800. There are also various intra-African connections.

There are only domestic flights, if any, to the other airports (Gao, Kayes, Mopti, Timbuktu).

The Dakar-Niger railway, which allowed people to travel from Senegal, has been discontinued. In 2013 there were still weekly passenger trains on the 420km between Bamako (from Mon, Wed, Fri 7.15) and Kayes (from Tue, Thu, Sun 7.15) via Kati and Diamou. At the beginning of 2023, the Bamako - Kayes route was tested again.

By bus
Ivory Coast
The clearance between Pogo and Zégoua takes place directly at the border. A new, joint border post will be built a few kilometers into Malian territory in 2018.

Burkina Faso
See the relevant section in said state article.

(Everyone is warning against traveling to the border region in 2018.)

When crossing from Mali's Nara on the RN4 into Mauritanian Boû Steïlé (بوصطيلة), there are no Mauritanian visas (as of 2016).
Gogui. Mauritanians have lunch from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., the visa office closes at 5 p.m. The first/last supply option and gas station is in Kiffa.
On the Malian side, a paid (negotiable) police escort to Nioro was required for foreigners in 2017, but not in the opposite direction.

1) The N1 going from/to Dakar via Tambacounda meets the N2 coming from St. Louis and Rosso in the border town of Kidira. The place has the same name on both sides of the border river Falémé, the Senegalese part is the larger. There is also the Hotel Étoile du Boundu. The disused Dakar-Bamako railway line also passed through here. In Mali it is 96km on the RN1 to Kayes.

Buses from Africa Tours, Noir tours, Sonef, Transafrica and others run between Tambacounda and Bamako, sometimes overnight in 18-20 hours at prices around 20,000 CFA (2017) for the entire route.

2) In the south there is a transition between the Senegalese Moussala over the border river to Koundame. The nearest Malian town is Kéniéba. Motos between border stations 1000 CFA or five minutes walk. Malian customs controls are superficial.

Coming from Bamako, via Kita, Africa Star's Koundame buses take around 11-12 hours (6000 CFA, Jan. 2018). The return journey from the border is around 2 p.m. There are also air-conditioned direct buses from this company to Dakar, leaving from Bamako. Hotel Olympe. Otherwise, in Senegal you have to rely on bush taxis to/from Kédougou via Saraya.



The official language is French, which also serves as a lingua franca and a language of higher education, although only about 2.2 million Malians can communicate in this language. There are also 13 national languages. The most widely spoken of these is Bambara, which has around 4 million native speakers and is spoken as a second language by another 5 million Malians. Other important languages in the country are Senufo (2 million speakers; in the southeast on the border with Burkina Faso), Songhai (1.5 million; on central Niger), Fulfulde (in the central region), Maninka (in the southwest, on the border with Senegal) and Soninke (in the west, on the border with Mauritania; 1.3 million each). In the north, Arabic and Tuareg languages are predominantly spoken. Most languages are spoken with several naturalized dialects that vary from place to place. Many Malians understand several of these languages.



Larger banks and hotels usually accept credit cards. The ability to receive money from ATMs may be limited.

The national currency is the CFA franc, which is heavily overvalued for political reasons and is pegged to the euro at a ratio of 655:1.



Components of the country's typical cuisine include plantains, sweet potatoes, millet and peanut sauce. Of course, fish is also eaten on the Niger (e.g. captain's fish).



The foreign ministries of the German-speaking countries warn against traveling to the country, especially its northern part. The country has been under a state of emergency since November 2015. There have been several terrorist attacks in the recent past in which foreigners were also affected (Hotel Radisson Blu in Bamako; property of the UN mission; headquarters of the EU training mission). Travelers should therefore behave particularly carefully, avoid crowds and strictly follow instructions from local security forces. Since November 2009, Europeans have been kidnapped repeatedly in the Sahara and Sahel zones. It is particularly dangerous in the north of the country (north of the 14th parallel and north of the national road 6 Ségou-San and further line Toumian/Burkina Faso border). Overland journeys that are not absolutely necessary are not recommended. If anything, these should not be done alone. We also strongly warn against driving in the dark. An increase in violent crime has been observed since 2017, which has also increasingly affected foreigners in recent months.

The government, which has been in office since spring 2022, is much more critical of the use of Western European troops as a post-colonial occupation than its predecessors, which has led to tensions with France, Denmark and the Federal Republic of Germany. The extent to which travelers from these countries will be affected by this cannot be estimated.



Malaria is a serious problem: Mali lies precisely in a malaria zone. The usual malaria prophylaxis is therefore important.

Vaccinations against yellow fever and hepatitis A + B are also necessary. A rabies vaccination is also recommended.



Pre-colonial period

Rock paintings show that Mali has been inhabited since the Paleolithic. It is known that trade across the Sahara with North Africa was already very important more than 2,000 years ago and helped the trading towns on the southern edge of the Sahara to prosper. Around 300 BC The Jenne-Jeno culture flourished in the 4th century BC and is documented by archaeological finds.

Between the 4th and 11th centuries, the Soninke Ghana Empire dominated the region between Senegal and Niger. Its center was near today's Néma. Two centuries later, the Islamic Mali Empire of the Malinke achieved hegemony over the region, centered on the upper reaches of the Niger. The Mali Empire became famous through the writings of Ibn Batuta, but also through the pilgrimage of its fabulously wealthy ruler Mansa Musa. Its decline in the 15th century was followed by the Songhai Empire with its center in Gao, which helped cities such as Djenné and Timbuktu (cf. clay mosques of Timbuktu) flourish, including with university-like educational institutions.

The Songhai Empire was initially weakened by a Moroccan invasion at the end of the 16th century with the conquest of Timbuktu and Gao and numerous small states emerged. From the 17th century onwards, Bambara built up centers of power along the Niger around Ségou (Empire of Bambara). The Massina Empire of the Fulani emerged in the Massina area. At the end of the 18th century, rulers of the Tukulor people (other name: Toucouleur) took power in almost all of what is now Mali's territory.


Colonial period

In the 1880s, the French colonial army began to take control of what is now Mali, starting from the west. Against the background of British competition for West Africa, they tried to use military and diplomatic means to expand their influence across the entire Sahel region. They encountered collaborators as well as militarily organized rivals, especially in Ségou and in the person of Samory Touré, who wanted to build an empire himself. By 1899, France had conquered all of what is now Mali, although it was never able to bring the nomads in the Sahara under control. In 1893, Louis Albert Grodet became the first governor of the colony of French Sudan. Bamako became the capital of the colony and in 1904 the railway line to Dakar was completed. However, the region remained of minor importance for the French; it mainly supplied soldiers who fought on the French side in the two world wars.

There were intellectuals who advocated the colony's independence since the 1930s. The PSP and US-RDA parties emerged, with the latter being more anti-colonialist.

According to the Loi Lamine Guèye of 1946, all citizens had the right to vote in elections to the French parliament and also in local elections. The right to stand for election was not expressly mentioned in the law, but it was not excluded either. In the elections to the Paris Parliament there was no two-class voting system in French West Africa as in other French colonies, but there was for all local elections. In 1956, the loi-cadre Defferre was introduced under the French colonial administration, which guaranteed active and passive universal suffrage. This introduced women's suffrage.

After the French constitution of 1958 allowed the colonies full internal autonomy, the colonies of Senegal and French Sudan united on April 4, 1956 and declared themselves independent as the Mali Federation on June 20, 1960. The general active and passive right to vote was confirmed. Due to differences between the leading politicians of the two parts of the country, Modibo Keïta and Léopold Sédar Senghor, the federation collapsed on August 20 of the same year. On September 22, 1960, the former colony of French Sudan formally declared its independence under the name Republic of Mali.



After independence, Mali became a one-party state under President Keïta, whose power relied on the US-RDA. He represented a socialist-oriented policy that aimed at centralization and mobilization of the masses through party structures. Without breaking with France, closer cooperation with the Eastern Bloc countries was sought. Keïta's regime became increasingly repressive due to poor economic conditions and growing popular discontent. On November 19, 1968, a group of young military men led by Moussa Traoré seized power. The unity party UDPM became its power base. It largely continued Keïta's socialist policy, but from the mid-1970s onwards it increasingly began to seek connection to the Western industrialized countries. The Traoré era saw two devastating droughts, the unrest of 1980 and, to make matters worse, the already weak Malian state was twice embroiled in armed border conflicts with the neighboring state of Burkina Faso. In the north the Tuareg revolted.

Traoré was again overthrown in a coup on March 26, 1991. In 1992, the first free elections in the country's history took place, won by history professor Alpha Oumar Konaré (ADEMA-PASJ). After two terms in office, Konaré, the 1991 coup leader Amadou Toumani, succeeded Touré in office. During this phase, significant administrative and judicial reforms were carried out with foreign support. Although Mali was subsequently praised as a successful example of democratization in Africa, the state administration remained inefficient, corrupt and poverty high. Both presidents also failed to find a solution to the Tuareg issue.


Armed conflict (since 2012)

The northern Mali conflict became acute after numerous heavily armed mercenaries and Islamists from the war in Libya came to Mali and allied themselves with the Tuareg rebels. In January 2012, Tuareg groups attacked the Malian military in the northeast of the country, three months later they had taken control of the entire north and declared the area they controlled to be independent. The Malian army had nothing to oppose the rebels; after all, it had the power to overthrow the president. In March 2012, the government was overthrown and President Amadou Toumani Touré was declared deposed by a group of low-ranking officers led by Captain Amadou Sanogo. The coup plotters justified their actions with the government's inability to control the uprising of the Tuareg rebels of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) in the Azawad region in the north of the country, which has been ongoing since mid-January 2012. The UN Security Council, the African Union and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton condemned the coup and imposed sanctions on the military junta; Development aid was temporarily suspended. In contrast, the population accepted the putsch calmly and there were even demonstrations of solidarity with the putschists.

Meanwhile, in the north of the country, the Tuareg rebels of the MNLA captured all towns in the Azawad region and declared Azawad's unilateral independence on April 6, 2012. Between January and July 2012, over 250,000 Malians fled to neighboring countries Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger as a result of political instability, insecurity and lack of access to food and water. In addition, there were around 105,000 internally displaced people in the north and around 69,000 internally displaced people in the south of Mali during the same period.

It was only in December 2012 that the United Nations approved a resolution that paved the way for Western military intervention in Mali. When the rebels set out to conquer the south of the country in January 2013, interim President Dioncounda Traoré asked the former colonial power France for help. With Operation Serval, the Islamists were quickly defeated and command was handed back to African troops. Former Prime Minister Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK) won the 2013 presidential election in Mali, which was postponed several times; He is considered the candidate of the oligarchy, which already held power before the coup. At the same time, the situation remains unstable, especially in the north, with repeated attacks by Islamists, while the Moor and Tuareg minorities are exposed to retaliation from the black African majority. In 2014, there were corresponding orders for the International Committee of the Blue Shield, based in The Hague, which is committed to protecting cultural assets from the effects of wars and armed conflicts, a need that is particularly seen in Mali. Work was also carried out on “no-strike lists”, which are intended to protect cultural assets from air strikes.


Coup 2020

On August 19, 2020, a military junta took power and claimed to be working with the protest movement in the West African country. At midnight, IBK resigned after being arrested by coup plotters during the controversial parliamentary elections and massive demonstrations led by the opposition movement M5-RFP (Mouvement du 5 Juin - Rassemblement des Forces Patriotiques). Hours later, the newly founded National Committee for the Salvation of the People (Comité national pour le salut du peuple; CNSP) took power. It was led by Assimi Goïta. The West African countries in particular condemned the coup and therefore announced partial economic sanctions, ranging up to a complete trade embargo. At the end of September, the interim government appointed Mali's former defense minister Bah N'Daw as interim president. Goita was nominated as vice president. The aim of the interim government should be to reform the constitution and hold elections within 18 months.


Coup 2021

On May 24, 2021, interim President Bah N'Daw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane, along with other government members, were arrested by the military and, like Ibrahim Boubakar Keita the year before, taken to the military camp in Kati. A few hours earlier, the interim government had appointed a new cabinet by decree in which the military filled strategically important positions despite promises to the contrary. The ministries of defense, security, territorial administration and national reconciliation were headed by officers. However, some army officers were excluded by the new government. After the coup, those arrested resigned and were subsequently released. Colonel Assimi Goita took over the presidential office on an interim basis. Goita promised a return to democracy. Until then, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has suspended Mali's membership. In September 2021, the junta brought the Russian mercenary group Wagner into the country. At the beginning of 2022, the military-dominated government announced that it would postpone the elections planned for February 2022 and the associated return to democracy for up to five years.


France withdraws after human rights violations by the Malian army

By August 2022, France withdrew its troops; A camp was immediately taken over by the Russian mercenary group Wagner. The reason for the withdrawal was the brutal operations of the Russian mercenaries with the Malian army; Hundreds of men were executed in Moura in March, without trial and without distinguishing between militants and civilians. This has been the case since the military conducted joint operations with the mercenaries, said an Amnesty International investigator. The European training mission EUTM should be stopped.

The security situation did not improve as a result of the junta's more aggressive actions; Around 2,700 people died in Mali in the first half of 2022, around 40 percent more than in the whole of 2021. In addition, according to a UN report from June, the state only controlled 15 percent of the country's area. The All Eyes On Wagner project stated in November 2022, after a year of Wagner's presence, that not only was he no help to the government in the fight against the rebels, but the situation had also been made worse. The information collected from open sources, media reports, eyewitness accounts and human rights reports about the crimes of Russian mercenaries included massacres, rapes, robberies and attacks on civilians. As in other African countries, structures affiliated with the mercenaries became interested in the country's gold mines. The report's authors cite several cases in which Russian mercenaries tried to shift responsibility for massacres onto French soldiers.



Mali is a landlocked country in the interior of West Africa with an area of 1,240,192 square kilometers, of which 20,002 km² are bodies of water. It is located in the greater Sudan and in the Sahel. Mali shares its 7,243 kilometer long land border with seven neighboring countries. In the northeast and north with Algeria (1,376 kilometers long), in the northwest with Mauritania (2,237 km), in the east with Niger (821 km) and in the southeast with Burkina Faso (1,000 km). Mali is also bordered by Senegal (419 km) to the west, Guinea (858 km) to the southwest and the Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire, 532 km) to the south. North of the Niger Arc lies the Sahara Desert, which covers two thirds of the country's surface.



The most common landform in Mali is the plain. The monotonous, extensive plains such as the Kaarta, the Gourma or the Gondo plain are only locally broken up by flat table mountains or dune formations. The south of the Affolé, the Mandingo Plateau, the Bandiagara Plateau or the Mahardates Plateau have sandstone subsoils. They are structured in many different ways by erosion and reach heights between 300 and 700 meters above sea level. In some regions the subsoil consists of the ancient rocks of the African Shield, which tends to lack expression and wide valleys: in the west and east of the country, in the southwest of the Affolé, in the Bambouk, in the Adrar of the Ifoghas and in the foothills of the Tamboura step. Dune landscapes, be they of fossil or recent origin, cover large parts of the north and extend as far as the Kaarta in the south. Notable dune landscapes can be found in the Hodh, in the Erg of Niafunké, in the Gourma, in the Gondo Plain, in the Ergs of Azaouad, in Erigat, in Mreyyé or in the Erg Chech. While the fossil dunes usually run parallel to each other, chaotic and very mobile dune fields are common in Aklé Aouana. Layers that form steep slopes that drop hundreds of meters deep are generally characteristic of West Africa; for Mali, the Bandiagara Stage, the Tamboura Stage or the Affolé Stage should be mentioned. The few mountainous areas of Mali are dolerite formations that rise above the plateaus. These include the Soninke surveys. The highest mountain in Mali is Hombori Tondo at 1153 m.


Geology and soils

Mali lies entirely on the Lower African part of the Gondwana Urcraton. Basin and sill structure dominates, with Mali lying largely in the Taoudenni Basin, which extends from the Niger Inland Delta to the middle Sahara. The sills surrounding the basin consist of bulges of the crystalline primordial craton. It is often overlain by sandstone, which was formed by several phases of flooding with seawater between the Paleozoic and Cenozoic. Tertiary deposits are less common. Since Mali, like the entire Sahel zone, belongs to the marginal tropical zone of excessive surface formation, extensive hull areas interrupted by inselbergs are typical. Laterite crusts have formed widely on the surface of sediments and can be up to several meters thick. The youngest geological formations trend parallel in a northeast-southwest direction. They are old dunes that were formed in the Late Pleistocene, are up to 30 m high and are stabilized by savanna vegetation.

When it comes to soils, tropical red soils are the most common. They occur on crystalline subsoil or old sedimentary layers and are relatively sterile. Where these earths have formed laterite crusts, sparse vegetation from Combretaceae thrives. Weathering material can collect in pediment areas and form suitable soil for agriculture. Fersiallites, reddish-brown lessivated soils on aeolian sands, are also widespread and form layers of 2 to 3 meters. They contain little humus and are susceptible to soil destruction by humans. With appropriate fertilizer use, they are suitable for growing millet or cotton. The northern Sahel zone is dominated by subarid brown earths, which on the one hand absorb the rare rainfall well, but on the other hand are prone to erosion. This ground, which is often covered with grass, is of great importance for nomadic pastoralism. The desert regions are characterized by raw soils that are created through physical weathering and have hardly any organic content. Gley soils and vertisols occur along the rivers, especially in the floodplains and in the inland delta of the Niger. They have high fertility, but carry the risk of salinization and splitting in dry conditions. They are suitable for growing sorghum, rice, vegetables and other crops.



The Niger is the most important river in West Africa, crossing Mali over a length of around 1,700 km. Coming from Guinea, it flows into the territory of Mali in the southwesternmost tip of the country and, after Ségou, forms the large inland delta of Massina. At Mopti it takes in its largest tributary, Mali Bani, and shortly afterwards splits into two arms, the Bara Issa and the Issa Ber. There is an alluvial plain of around 100,000 km² in size, which is covered by numerous shallow, seasonal lakes. Shortly before Diré the two arms join, at Timbuktu the river turns towards the east and at Bourem towards the southeast. About half of the country's area lies in the Niger river basin.

The Senegal River is the second important river in the region. Its catchment area covers around 10% of the country's area. It is created near Bafoulabé by the confluence of the Bafing and Bakoye. On its way through the western part of Mali, the Senegal River takes in the waters of Falémé, Kolimbiné and Karakoro.

The remaining 40% are located in the Sahara and are part of the catchment area of the Tamanrasset river, which once flowed through North Africa.

The year-round lakes lie on both sides of the Niger and are called Niangay and Faguibine. The latter is the largest lake in the country with a surface area of 590 km² in the rainy season. The numerous seasonal lakes fill with water in the rainy season, the most important of which are Débo, Fati, Teli, Korientze, Tanda, Do, Garou and Aougoundou. Due to decreasing rainfall since the severe droughts of the early 1980s and, above all, the construction of dams on the upper Niger, Niangay and Faguibine have recently been drying out on a regular basis.

Fishing in the rivers and lakes is an important industry. The swamps and wetlands that form along the Niger during the rainy season provide habitat for numerous species of birds.



Mali's climate is primarily influenced by the country's location at the transition area between the humid savanna in the south and the fully arid Sahara in the north. The interaction between the northwardly moving intertropical convergence zone in summer and the dry northeast trade wind (Harmattan) in winter gives all regions of the country a distinct division into dry and rainy seasons. The dry season falls in winter and the rainy season in summer. Average annual rainfall decreases from over 1200 millimeters in the south to less than 25 millimeters in the north. Because of the more favorable climatic conditions, large-scale agriculture is carried out almost exclusively in the south. In the north there are only small agricultural areas in the oases.

Not only the average annual rainfall, but also the number of rainy days per year, the length of the rainy season and the regularity of rainfall are much more favorable in the south than in the north. On average, it rains 97 days a year in Sikasso, 76 days in Bamako, 29 in Timbuktu and 18 days in Kidal. While in Kidal well over half of the annual rainfall occurs in July and August, the south enjoys a rainy season that begins in May, peaks in August and subsides in October. The further north you go, the more precipitation falls in the form of short, heavy and localized thunderstorms. This makes farming even more difficult because crops often wither between two rainstorms, forcing farmers to make multiple sowing attempts.

The average annual temperatures in Mali are between 27 °C and 30 °C. They are largely independent of geographical latitude. However, the annual amplitudes are significantly higher in the north than in the south: in Gao or Timbuktu, the summers are hotter with average temperatures of up to 35 °C and the winters are colder with January temperatures of around 20 °C. In Bamako, on the other hand, average temperatures range between 25 °C in winter and 32 °C in April. The extreme temperatures are reported from the places on the edge of the Sahara: they are close to freezing on cold winter nights and close to 50 ° C in the shade on summer days. Temperature amplitudes of 30 °C within a day are normal there.

The amount of rain in a year depends largely on how far the intertropical convergence zone moves north and how uniform it is. If it is not continuous, but rather wavy or interrupted, there will be less rain or the rainy season will start later. If several years with unfavorable development of the intertropical convergence zone occur in a row, periods of drought occur. This phenomenon occurs at irregular intervals in the Sahel region. Since the 1960s, droughts have become increasingly common. A long-term decline in precipitation can also be demonstrated for this period. This is explained by reduced evaporation in the inner tropics due to environmental degradation. In the future, some scientists expect that rainfall in Mali will continue to decrease and that the vegetation zones will shift south. The impact on agriculture and food safety would be serious in this case.



Mali is home to some of the oldest cities in West Africa. Djenné developed from the 9th century through immigration from Soninke from the collapsed Ghana into a trading center that reached its peak in the 13th century and whose architecture still serves as a model for the villages of the Niger inland delta today. Timbuktu, located on the southern edge of the Sahara, developed into one of the region's most important cities from the 12th century onwards, benefiting from its location at the northernmost point of the Niger Arc. While these old cities show declining populations, Mali as a whole is experiencing rapid urbanization, allowing new urban centers to grow rapidly. In addition to the generally high population growth, rural exodus due to deteriorating ecological conditions, drought or political instability is contributing to rapid urbanization. While 9% of Malians lived in cities in 1965, the figure will probably be around 41% in 2015.

By far the largest city in the country is Bamako, which has grown from 6,500 inhabitants in 1908 to over 1.8 million inhabitants in 2009. The city is the country's government and administrative center and serves as a bridgehead abroad, especially for development aid. The German Embassy Bamako is also located here, the official and highest diplomatic representation of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Republic of Mali, with which the Federal Republic of Germany established diplomatic relations on September 23, 1960 and the German Democratic Republic on April 19, 1973. However, the city does not have any cross-border significance. Other important cities are Sikasso (2009: 226,618 inhabitants), Ségou (133,501 inhabitants) and the center of Malian cotton processing Koutiala (75,000 inhabitants 1998). Due to the influx of drought refugees, Mopti (81,000 inhabitants in 1998, 120,786 in 2009) and Sévaré have grown significantly. Cities in the Northern Sahel such as Timbuktu (2005: 30,000 inhabitants, 2009 54,629) or Gao (2009 86,353) are affected by emigration, especially of young people.


Flora and fauna

The vegetation in Mali is the result of centuries of human intervention. Natural vegetation is only present in narrowly defined areas. The cultural landscape created by grazing, agriculture and slash-and-burn agriculture can be divided into four zones, depending on the amount of precipitation. With a few exceptions, the plants in these zones have in common that they sprout at the beginning of the rainy season and shed their leaves or allow the above-ground part to die in the dry months.

The area of dense to open dry forests in the southern part of the country is dominated by tree species such as kapok tree (Ceiba pentandra), shea tree (Vitellaria paradoxa), African baobab tree (Adansonia digitata) and ana tree (Faidherbia albida). All of these trees are used intensively by humans. Combretum trees thrive on less favorable soil. Clump grasses such as Hyparrhenia, Pennisetum, Loudetia and Andropogon species form the grass layer. To the north of the dry forests, where there is less than 600 mm of annual precipitation, the Sahelian thorn bush savannah spreads. Various acacia species, desert dates (Balanites aegyptiaca) or Combretum glutinosum, as well as the grass species Cenchrus biflorus or Aristida mutabilis dominate. Eragrostis tremula often colonizes areas where millet has been grown. This savannah is the tiger bush; There, areas with and without vegetation alternate in strips.

The border between thorn tree savannah and northern Sahel is 250 to 100 mm annual precipitation. Acacia species, shrub species such as Leptadenia pyrotechnica or the important fodder plants Maerua crassifolia or toothbrush tree (Salvadora persica) still thrive in the moist lowlands of the Northern Sahel. The Sahara begins where annual rainfall falls below 100 mm. In these areas, acacia species only occur in wadis. Clump grasses such as Aristida pungens, Aristida longiflora or Panicum turgidum thrive in favorable locations.

Species endemic to Mali are Maerua dewaillyi from the caper family, Elatine fauquei from the tannel family, Pteleopsis habeensis (wingseed family), Hibiscus pseudohirtus (mallow family), Acridocarpus monodii (Malpighian family), Gilletiodendron glandulosum (legume family), Brachystelmam edusan thernum (genus Brachystelma ), Pandanus raynalii (screw tree family).

Due to overhunting by locals and other hunters, the desertification of large areas with severe drought and the increasing cultivation and competition with grazing animals, larger wild animals in particular are much rarer in Mali than in many other African countries. As in Mauritania, extinction rates for mammal populations in Mali have historically been very high compared to other African countries, despite low population densities.

A total of around 140 mammal species are native to Mali. Numerous species of large mammals have become extinct, including the once common sable antelope and the Mendes antelope (which may still occur in the border area with Mauritania), or have been reduced to small remaining populations. The West African giraffe was originally found in large parts of central Mali, but was reduced to a remaining population in the border area with Niger through intensive hunting and is now also considered extinct. Around 350 elephants live in the Gourma region in the border area with northern Burkina Faso. The latter are the northernmost population of African elephants and show periodic migratory behavior in the border area, with the area in Mali making up the larger part of the range. The African manatee, a type of manatee, also occurs in Niger, the Niger Inland Delta, Lake Débo and Senegal. The endangered and internationally protected species occurs regularly, but the populations are declining due to hunting and the deterioration of water quality and should be given special protection in the future.

The chimpanzee is only found in the far southwest of the country, in the border area with Guinea, where its presence was only documented for the first time in 1977. In 1984 their number was estimated at 500-1000 individuals, whereas in 1993 the figure was between 1800 and 3500. The most important habitats are the forests interspersed with Gilletiodendron glandulosum from the legume family, which in the Gilletiodendron forest offer around 60 plant species that are edible for chimpanzees . The groups there are larger than in the associations that live in the savannah. The most important protected area is the Réserve faunique du Bafing, established in 1990. Other primates found in Mali include the hussar monkey, the western vervet monkey, the anubis baboon, as well as the Guinea baboon (only in the far west) and the Senegal galago. In the past, predators such as lions and cheetahs were found in Mali, but their populations continued to decline, so that today they, like the African wild dog, are no longer present in the protected areas. Smaller predators such as the pale fox, the sand cat, the dun cat, some civet cats and martens continue to occur in Mali. Other mammals include some species of smaller antelope, the maned goat, the aardvark and the hippopotamus, as well as numerous small mammals living in the country.

According to BirdLife International, a total of 562 bird species have been recorded in Mali, 117 of which are waterfowl. 229 species are classified as migratory birds. Numerous bird species live primarily in the inland delta of the Niger; many migratory birds from Europe also spend the winter in this area. Worth mentioning is the Mali amaranth, which is occasionally shown in travel guides as endemic to Mali, but is also found in neighboring countries. Mali's endangered birds include larger ground-dwelling birds such as the African ostrich, bustards such as the Arabian bustard and the Nubian bustard, and guinea fowl.

Mali's reptiles include over 170 species of lizards, including monitor lizards and thorn-tailed dragons, and over 150 species of snakes. These include vipers such as the puff adder, various sand vipers and the desert horned viper as well as poisonous snakes such as several cobras and the boomslang, which is present in the south. The northern rock python is also part of the country's herpetofauna. In the Niger and other rivers, as in most larger rivers in Africa, there are also crocodiles, especially the Nile crocodile. In addition to these species, 15 turtle species have also been recorded for Mali.

The rivers and lakes of Mali are inhabited by over 140 fish species, including 18 species of catfish, 14 species of tetras, 9 cichlids (including the Nile tilapia, Sarotherodon galilaeus and Coptodon zillii) and 4 carp fish. The largest fish in Mali is the plankton-eating African bony fish.

Termites are important for the ecosystems of the Sahel because they loosen the soil and form humus. The buildings of the species Cubitermes fungifaber are particularly striking. The weaver bird species are feared pests in the rice fields. Migratory locusts are of even greater concern to the population. The desert locust, which breeds in the Maghreb, can migrate in huge swarms across the Sahara to the Sahel in years with sufficient rainfall and destroy natural vegetation and crops.

Mali's only national park is the Boucle du Baoulé National Park in the west of the country, around 200 km north of Bamako. It covers an area of 5,430 km² and serves to protect hippos, giraffes, waterbucks, roan antelope, giant eland and lyre antelope as well as warthogs, as well as corresponding flora. However, its forests are just as endangered by agricultural and pastoral overuse as those of the Réserve de Fina to the south.



The population of the country is 13,518,000 people. Mali is a presidential republic, since 2002 the president is Amadou Toumani Toure.

The population of Mali consists of numerous African tribes. Most of the inhabitants are settled in the south of the country, in the north - in desert areas - only 10% of the population lives. The most numerous tribes are the Bambara (33%), living mainly in the south and in the center of the country. Together with the Soninke and Malinke living in the west, they make up half the population. Other nationalities are Fulani (17%), Senoufo (12%), Dogon (7%), Songhai (6%), Tuareg (6%).

Most of the country's inhabitants profess Islam (90%), the rest of the population is disposed to local beliefs (9%). Only 1% are Christians.

The official language of Mali is French. 80% of Malians also speak the Bambara language.



Mali is an agricultural country. The economy of the country is the cultivation of various fruits, vegetables and cereals. High-quality cotton is produced in Mali, and the once core industry, gold mining, is rapidly developing. Animal husbandry and fishing are developed.



National Museum - it houses a fairly extensive collection of masks, statues, archaeological finds and a good model of the mosque in Djenne
Muso Kunda Museum - dedicated to women, the exposition - national clothes, household items
Bamako Museum - the exposition consists of various ethnographic finds
Grand Marche Market - a huge market, occupying an entire block, was built in the colonial style
Point G - from this point in the north of the city there is an excellent view of Bamako

Fort Medina - part of the French defenses near the city

Port Mopti is the busiest port in Mali, from here you can take a boat tour of Niger
The Misire Mosque is a beautiful Sahel-style mosque located in the old part of the city.

Pirogue rides - for about $30 you can ride local canoes on the river
Koro is a small village near Segou, made up of clay houses.

Tata - the remains of a clay wall from the time of the capture of the country by the French
Dernier Rua Palace - a beautiful palace in the west of the city
Mamelon - the sacred hill of the kings of the Kenedugu dynasty
Hombori Tondo - rock formations, a popular place for trekking and rock climbing, the most famous rock is the "Hand of Fatima"

Clay Mosque of Djenne - one of the main attractions of Mali, the largest clay building in the world
Djenne Dzheno - the ruins of an ancient city founded about 2300 years ago

Jigareber Mosque
Mosque of Sidi Yahya
Sankore Mosque - the three largest clay mosques left over from ancient times
Ethnographic Museum - has a lot of exhibits in its collection: clothes, musical instruments, jewelry
Ahmed Baba Center - the largest repository of ancient books and manuscripts of the golden age of Mali

Dogon country
The country of the Dogon is one big attraction - beautiful nature, sheer cliffs, ancient culture. The most popular pastime is trekking.