About Mali

Country Profile: Mali

The landlocked West African country of Mali is one of the world’s poorest nations. Since independence from France in 1960 it has suffered droughts, rebellions, a coup and 23 years of military dictatorship.

But since 1992, when the country’s first democratically-elected president took power, Mali has had a civilian government.

The core of ancient empires going back to the fourth century, Mali was conquered by the French in the middle of the 19th century. In 1958 it was proclaimed the Sudanese Republic and the following year it became the Mali Federation, after uniting with Senegal. However, Senegal seceded and Mali became independent in 1960.

Although swathes of Mali are barren, the country is self-sufficient in food thanks to the fertile Niger river basin in the south and east.

Mali is one of the continent’s biggest cotton producers. Along with other African exporters it has lobbied against subsidies to cotton farmers in richer countries, particularly the US. It argues that these depress prices and restrict Malian farmers’ access to export markets.

Mali’s economic development is also held back by a chronic foreign trade deficit, making it heavily dependent on foreign aid and the money sent home from emigrants working abroad.

In 1985 Mali fought a brief border war with Burkina Faso, and relations continue to be strained. In the early 1990s the army was sent to the north to quell a rebellion by nomadic Tuareg tribes over land, cultural and linguistic rights. However, Mali remains relatively peaceful.

Mali has produced some of the stars of African music. The Festival in the Desert, held every year in Essakane, a Saharan oasis, celebrates this talent.

  • Population: The Republic of Mali
  • Population: 13.8 million (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Bamako
  • Area: 1.25 million sq km (482,077 sq miles)
  • Major languages: French, Bambara, Berber, Arabic
  • Major religions: Islam, indigenous beliefs
  • Life Expectancy: 47 years (men), 48 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary Unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes
  • Main exports: Cotton, gold, livestock
  • GNI per capita: US $380 (World Bank, 2006)
  • Internet domain: .ml
  • International dialing code: +223
  • President: Amadou Toumani Toure

Amadou Toumani Toure, the army general credited with rescuing Mali from military dictatorship and handing it back to its people, won presidential elections in May 2002.

Mr Toure first came to power in 1991, overthrowing military ruler Moussa Traore after his security forces killed over 100 pro-democracy demonstrators.

He gained widespread respect, and the nickname “soldier of democracy”, for handing power to elected civilians the next year.
Born in 1948, Mr Toure is also known popularly by his initials “ATT”.

He has no official party but went into the first round of the elections with the backing of numerous support groups and 22 minor parties.

He has pledged to promote education and jobs for the young.

  • Prime minister: Ousmane Issoufi Maiga
  • Foreign minister: Moctar Ouane
  • Finance minister: Abou-Bakar Traore

Mali’s broadcast and print media are among the freest in Africa. Laws that provide harsh penalties for slandering public officials are rarely invoked. There are some 40 privately-owned newspapers and 50 private radio and television stations, as well as state-run print and broadcast media.

The Press

  • L’Aurore – national daily
  • L’Essor – state-owned national daily
  • Le Republicain – national daily
  • L’Independent – privately-owned
  • Info Matin – privately-owned daily
  • Les Echos – daily


  • Office de la Radiodiffusion Television du Mali (ORTM) – public, programmes in French and local vernacular languages
  • Multi Canal – multichannel operator
  • Tele-Kledu – multichannel operator


  • Office de Radiodiffusion Television du Mali (ORTM) – public network of national and regional stations
  • Radio Bamakan – community station, Bamako
  • Radio Canal 2000 – Bamako
  • Radio Patriote – commercial, Bamako
  • Radio Frequence 3 (FR3) – commercial, Bamako
  • Radio Tabale – Bamako
  • Radio Guintan – Bamako
  • Radio Liberte – commercial, Bamako
  • Radio Kledu – commercial, Bamako
  • Radio Kaira – Bamako
  • Radio Benkan – Bamako
  • Voix du Coran – Islamic station, Bamako
  • Radio Rurale – network of community stations

News Agency

  • AMP – Agence Malienne De Press

Story from BBC NEWS: