74 Significant Facts About Mali

Last updated on April 18th, 2022


43. Mali’s geographic and ethnic diversity is reflected in its everyday culture. Malians commonly wear colorful boubous (flowing robes). The bogalanfini cloth is only produced in this part of Africa. This handcrafted cloth is dyed with mud. Women wear matching head covers.

44. Malians frequently participate in traditional ceremonies, dances and festivals. The country has unique musical traditions.

45. Dance has an important role in Mali. Ceremonial events are celebrated with traditional mask dances. The Dogon people of central Mali have more than 75 different ritual masks.

46. Historically a lively African intellectual center, Mali’s literary tradition is passed primarily by word of mouth. “Jalises” recite stories or histories of a community by heart.

Soccer Football - Africa Under 23 Cup of Nations.
Soccer Football – Africa Under 23 Cup of Nations.

47. The most popular sport in Mali is football (soccer) and its most popular teams are based in the country’s capital. The game called “wari” is a common pastime as well.

48. The Mali women’s national basketball team competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

49. School enrollment is at 61 percent for primary school enrollment and 15 percent for secondary school enrollment. Literacy rates among the Mali people range from 27 to 46 percent, with men more literate than women.

50. Woman do all the work for the family but they are held in high regard. Women are always consulted, particularly in community decisions, because they symbolize harmony and peace.


51. The staples of Malian cuisine are millet and rice, with couscous added in the north. Sauces made from edible plants, such as baoboas, spinach, and peanuts, are added.

52. Mali’s cuisine varies by its different regions. Street food sold in carts and small shops is tasty and economical. Menu choices include fried rice, meatballs, beef kebabs, fish, potatoes, and various fried dough treats.

53. A wide variety of fresh fruits is available but should be washed in bleach water before peeling. These include papaya, guava, mangoes, watermelons, oranges and bananas.

54. The largest cities have some “western” restaurants and in the capital city of Bamako can be found Vietnamese, Lebanese, Chinese and Italian cuisines, among others.

55. Legal drinking age in Mali is 18. Since it is a predominately Muslim nation, however, locals discourage drinking alcohol even though it is not prohibited. Some arrests and beatings of both locals and foreigners have been reported.

56. Djablani is a local specialty drink. It is made from the juice of the hibiscus or the baobab tree mixed with ginger. This juice is often sold in polythene bags and is said to be very refreshing.

Animals and Plants

57. There are two critically endangered, three endangered, ten vulnerable, and three near-threatened species of the 146 mammal species found in Mali.

58. Among these endangered species are the addax, the dame gazelle, the chimpanzee, the rhim gazelle, and the African wild dog.

59. Mali lions are now only found around the Faleme River. Manatees in the Niger River are no longer hunted for their meat due to their threatened status and protection laws.

60. Animals endemic to only Mali include the Mali Fire finch, the Mali Screeching Frog, the Bata Marsh Toad and the freshwater elephant fish.

61. A species of legume in the Fabacear family is found only in Mali. Cram cram and other grasses are scattered throughout Mali.

62. Fishing is an important food industry and there are approximately 200 species of fish in Mali. The most popular is capitaine.

63. The Inner Delta of the Niger River is rich in heron species. Seventeen Important Bird Areas (IBAs are designated in Mali, ten of which include wetlands (nine of which are in the Inner Delta).

64. Termites are found in many uncleared locations in their “castles of clay”. Alates or flying white ants are the termite populations housed in these.


65. Because of the continuing conflicts between the Islamic factions and the government, a large variety of hotels throughout the country have temporarily closed (including the high end ones).

66. There are a variety of accommodations available ranging from hotels to room rentals to auberges and homestays.

Mali, Djenne, impressive mosques built entirely of clay in west Africa.
Mali, Djenne, impressive mosques built entirely of clay in west Africa.

67. There are two UNESCO World Heritage sites in Mali. One is the Great Mosque of Djinné, which was built in 1906 completely of mud. Three towers and five stories comprise this adobe building, which is unfortunately not open to the public.

68. The other is the historic town of Timbuktu with its three great mosques and centuries of history. It is still an important stop for salt caravans even today.

Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali
Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu, Mali. Image credit – upyernoz

69. The capital Bamako on the Niger River had wonderful local markets to explore. The harbor town of Mopti offers river adventures in a pinasse (locally built watercraft).

70. The largest national park and reserve in Mali is the Bouche du Baoulé National Park, northeast of Bamako. Monkeys are the only animals here now where giraffes, lions, chimps and gazelles used to roam. Poaching and the encroachment of man has decimated the rest.

71. The Reserve de Ansongo Menaka is near the Nigerian border in the southeast. The Reserve de Douantze has the most interesting wildlife remaining.

72. Other notable areas are the Wongo and Kouroufring National Parks, home of desert elephants that migrate with the seasons. The Bafing Biosphere Reserve hosts the Bafing Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

73. The Bandiagara Cliffs are a beautiful area for hiking. The Dogon people who live in this region have a fascinating culture.

74. Visit Gao for the Mausoleum of Askia the Great, a strange 16th century edifice that looks similar to a step pyramid.

Mali – country at a glance

Independence22 September 1960 (from France)
Capital CityBamako
(12°39′N 8°0′W)
Largest CityBamako
(12°39′N 8°0′W)
Area1,240,192 sq km
Population20,741,769 (2022 est.)
ReligionIslam (98%) and Christianity (2%)
Official LanguageFrench
Literacy ratetotal population: 35.5%
National Anthem"Le Mali" (Mali)
Suffrage18 years of age; universal
Climatesubtropical to arid; hot and dry (February to June); rainy, humid, and mild (June to November); cool and dry (November to February)
Terrainmostly flat to rolling northern plains covered by sand; savanna in south, rugged hills in northeast
Mean elevation343 m
Lowest pointSenegal River 23 m
Highest pointHombori Tondo 1,155 m
National symbolGreat Mosque of Djenne
National colorgreen, yellow, red
National dayIndependence Day, 22 September (1960)
Life Expectancy at birth62.41 Years (2022)
Birth rate41.07 births/1,000 population (2022 est.)
Death rate8.53 deaths/1,000 population (2022 est.)
Sex ratio0.95 male(s)/female (2022 est.)
Government typesemi-presidential republic
PresidentAssimi Goïta (interim)
Prime MinisterChoguel Kokalla Maïga (acting)
Agricultural land34.1%
Natural resourcesgold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, gypsum, granite, hydropower
CurrencyWest African CFA franc (XOF)
Industriesfood processing; construction; phosphate and gold mining
Exports$4.18 billion (2018 est.)
gold, cotton, sesame seeds, lumber, vegetable oils/residues (2019)
Imports$6.08 billion (2018 est.)
refined petroleum, clothing and apparel, packaged medicines, cement, broadcasting equipment (2019)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$2,200 (2020 est.)
Internet country code.ml
Time ZoneGMT (UTC+0)
Calling Code+223
Drives on theRight
Table last updatedAugust 6, 2022