10 Facts About Mali

10 Facts About Mali

1. Historically Mali was part of three different West African empires that controlled all the trans-Saharan trade.

2. Sundiata, Mali’s Lion King (or Lion Prince) was the founder and first ruler of the Mali Empire from which the country today takes its name. In his reign from 1235 to 1260 the empire stretched all the way to the western coast of Africa.

3. When the Malian Empire’s 14th century emperor, Mansa Musa, made his impressive pilgrimage to Mecca, he traveled with over 70,000 people and up to 50 pounds of gold. He built a mosque every Friday on his entire trip.

4. Mali is divided into eight large regions and one district, the Bamako Capital District. These regions are Kayes, Koulikoro, Sikasso, Ségow, Gao, Mopti, Kindal and Tombouctou (also known as Timbuktu).

5. Mali’s three natural land zones include the arid Saharan zone, the semiarid central Sahelian zone, and the southern cultivated Sudanese, where the majority of the country’s population lives.

6. Thirty four percent of the land is used as agricultural land, with 5.6 percent in arable land and 28.4 percent in permanent pastureland. Forests occupy ten percent of Mali.

7. Mali’s total population is expected to double by 2035. The Malian capital of Bamako is one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa.

8. French is Mali’s official language but Bambara is the most frequently spoken language in Mali. There are a dozen other national languages.

9. 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.

10. Mali has more than ten ethnic groups, including the Bambara (34%), Fulani (15%), Sarakole (11%) and Senufo (10%).