Geography History Map

MALI had no access to the sea. Mali is frontier with Mauritanie, Algérie, BURKINA FASO , Ivory Coast and Niger. By the North, the river Niger form with the river Bani a vast delta. Inside the country, the marshies soils of Macina (about 125 miles wide) are stretching along the river Niger during 280 miles.
The country's centre is made with arid and herbaceous grounds called Sahel. These grounds are proning to dryness. North is really a desert where are standing mythics towns like Tombouctou or Gao, strewed with oases along the ancient trans-Saharan roads. These oases, where salt caravans passing through, are always inhabiting by the Touaregs. More in the South, are living nomads peoples (especially Peulhs). The population, wich is concentrated in the South, is make up DOGON and BAMBARA (the largest ethnic group). French is the official language, but the most widely spoken is Bambara.

MALI was one of the most important trading centers of the entire islamic world in mediaevel times.The development of this region owed much to the spread of Islam, wich became the religion of trade in those days. Troughout this time, the traditional beliefs continued to be and still survive today among peoples like the Dogon, Songhaï and Touareg.

The wealth of this trading was based primarily on the taxes levied on the transport of West African gold to North Africa and the Middle East, and of salt caravans. A long series of powerful empires grew up and collapsed in this part of the world, from the 9th to the 16th century. They only came to an end following invasion from Maroc and the breaking of the Muslim monopoly on trade in Africa and the Indian Ocean by the European maritime nations.

Toward the end of the 19th century, Mali became a french colony. As in other french colonies, its people were gradually forced into cultivating cash crops initially through a system of forced labour, then later by taxation. It became independant in 1960, trough for a few month it was federated with Senegal. The first democratic president was Modibo KEITA, quickly put his country on a socialist road to development and opposed french imperialism. In 1962, Mali left the Franc Zone and set up its own currency (but came back in 1967). State corporations were set up and industrialisation was encouraged. However, some few years later, mismanagment and excessive bureaucracy forced the government to announce austerity measures wich the general public were very reluctant to accept since there was a lot of obvious profiteering going on.

KEITA was overthrown in a bloodless military coup in 1968 and the country has been ruled by the leaders of that coup ever since. The military are not particularly popular and the regime has been challenged on a number of occasions by student and labour organisations. The death in detention in 1977 of KEITA, in particular, provoked spontaneous demonstrations throughout the country.

Being a part of the Sahel, Mali suffered disastrously from the droughts of the 1970s. The drought turned enormous areas of once marginal grazing and crop raising land into desert and resulted in massive losses of crops and livestock. When a further drought struck 1984-85, not only were emergency supplies of grain help up in the ports of Dakar, Abidjan and Lome but when they finally arrived in Mali, the nomads of the country's vast northern region were beyond reach. The roads and other transport infrastructure simply did not exist. Some 80 % of the cattle wich they depend perished and the nomads themselves were decimated. A crisis became between nomads and the rest of the population. This tension explode in 1990, and the fights will pursue up until 1992.

Today, the nomad's rebellion is a bad memory, and this country live in political stability. After cotton's production, tourism is an important development's factor.

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