Flag of Mali


The Republic of Mali (formerly the French Sudan) is a landlocked nation in Western Africa, and the seventh largest country in Africa. It bounded by Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its straight borders on the north stretch into the centre of the Sahara desert, whilst the country's south, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Senegal rivers.

The name 'Mali' comes from the Bambara word for hippopotamus (with the animal appearing on the 5 franc coin), whilst the name of its capital city, Bamako comes from the Bambara word meaning "place of crocodiles".

Although Mali is not the place to go for safaris, it does have an amazing array of surreal landscapes, beautiful artwork, castellated mosques made entirely of mud, pink sandstone villages carved into cliff faces, and undulating desert scenes that look like outtakes from Lawrence of Arabia.

Unfortunately, Mali is rapidly being swallowed up by the desert, and is still suffering the aftershocks of a drought of biblical proportions accompanied by plague, pestilence and famine. This has made it one of the five poorest countries in the world.

However, Malians, by nature and circumstance, are a stoic and enduring people and the passion for their homeland and traditional way of life may have finally paid off with the discovery of deposits of gold potentially huge enough to lift the country from its economic doldrums.

Map of Mali