Mali Information

General Information for Mali

Country: Mali
Location: West Africa
Independence: June 20, 1960
Nationality: Malian
Capital City: Bamako
Population: 9,375,132
Important Cities: Sikasso, Mopti, Gao, Segou
Head of State: Alpha Omar Konare
Area: 1,240,142
Type of Government: Republic
Currency: 500 FCFA=1 USD
Major peoples: Bamana, Senufo, Dogon, Songhai, Fulani
Religion: Muslim 90%, African religion 9%, Christian 1%
Climate: Tropical to arid
Literacy: 32%
Official Language: French
Principal Languages: Bamana, Senufo, Songhai, Fulfulde, Tamacheg
Major Exports: Cotton, Livestock
Pre-Colonial History Mali is the cultural heir to many ancient African empires-Ghana, Malinke, and Songhai-that occupied the West African Savanna. The Ghana Empire, centered in the area along the Malian-Mauritanian frontier and dominated by the Soninke people, was a powerful trading state from about A.D. 700 to 1075. The Malinke Kingdom of Mali had its origins on the upper Niger River in the 11th century. Expanding in the 13th century under the leadership of Soundiata Keita, it reached its height about 1325, when it conquered Timbuktu and Gao. The kingdom began to decline, controlling a small fraction of its former domain by the 15th century. The Songhai Empire expanded its power from Gao during the period 1465 to 1530. At its peak under Askia Mohammad I, it encompassed the Hausa states. In 1591 a Moroccan invasion destroyed the Songhai Empire. French military penetration of the Soudan began in the 1880s.
Post-Colonial History In April 1959 Mali merged with Senegal to form the Federation of Mali, which became independent on June 20, 1960. The Republic of Mali was proclaimed on September 22, 1960. President Modibo Keita, leader of the Union Soudanaise, dominated pre-independence politics. He declared a single-party state and instituted a socialist policy based on extensive nationalization. The continuously deteriorating economy led to a decision to rejoin the Franc Zone in 1967 and modify some of the earlier innovations. On November 19, 1968, a group of officers staged a bloodless coup and set up a 14-member Military Committee for National Liberation (CMLN), with Lt. Moussa Traore as president. A new constitution, approved in 1974, created a one-party state and was designed to move Mali toward civilian rule. The Democratic Union of the Malian People (UDPM), based on the concept non-ideological democratic centralism, was established in 1976.

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