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More About Mali

Geography and People

Mali is the seventh largest country in Africa. This landlocked nation in Western Africa is bordering Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west (see map).

A former French colony, Mali gained independence in 1960. French remains the official language, and it is the language of the administration and the schools. Although each ethnic group speaks a separate native language, nearly 80% of Malians communicate in Bambara, the common language of the marketplace.

Mali's population consists of diverse Sub-Saharan ethnic groups, sharing similar historic, cultural, and religious traditions. Exceptions are the Tuaregs and Maurs, desert nomads, related to the North African Berbers. Historically, there have been good inter-ethnic relations throughout the country. Each ethnic group was traditionally tied to a specific occupation, all working within close proximity. The Bambara, Malinke, and Dogon are farmers; the Fulani, Maur, and Tuareg are herders; the Soninkés or Saracolés are traders; while the Bozo are fishers. In recent years, this linkage has shifted as ethnic groups seek diverse, nontraditional sources of income.

Malian Economy

More About Sanambélé

Sanambele Women Sanambele Village