(République du Mali). West African state (1,248,574 km²). Capital: Bamako. Administrative division: regions (9). Population: 12,716,000 residents (2008 estimate). Language: French (official), Arabic, Mande and Hamitic (Berber) languages. Religion: Muslims 90%, animists / traditional beliefs 5%, Christians 5%. Monetary unit: CFA franc (100 cents). Human Development Index: 0.391 (168th place). Borders: Algeria (N), Burkina Faso and Niger (E), Guinea and Ivory Coast (S), Mauritania and Senegal (W). Member of: CEDEAO, OCI, UN, AU and WTO, EU associate.
According to Itypeusa, the hydrography of Mali centers on Niger; about a quarter of the Malian territory is part of the Nigerian basin, but it must be taken into account that many areas of the North are absolutely aric. The river originates in the Guinean territory from a wide mountainous slope where it radiates its numerous spring branches; the main tributary is the Bani, which originates in the Ivory Coast and flows parallel for hundreds of kilometers before reaching Niger already in the delta area, whose flood surface is equal to 54,000 km². The floods occur between July and January, when there are floods caused by the summer rains on the Guinean belt, rains that also affect a large area of the country. With January the withdrawal phase begins and then wide grassy expanses are discovered, bourgou. Floods are phenomena related to the alluvial filling process of the depression and are explained by the fact that the plain crossed by the river has very weak slopes: between Koulikoro and Kabara, that is for approx. 1000 km, the difference in height is just a few meters. The delta includes numerous lakes (Niangay, Faguibine, Korienzé, Débo etc.) and dead arms, fossil meanders, and presents itself as a difficult environment, although in some areas it has been partially reclaimed. The seasonal rhythm of the floods is very marked and the flow rates vary very strongly: in Koulikoro, lows of 45 m 3 / s were recorded (in early May) and maximums of 9700 m 3/ s (in early August). The Niger flows for just under 1800 km (out of a total of 4160) in Malian territory and is almost entirely navigable. Less important for Mali is the Senegal River, which crosses the southwestern section of the country for 600 km, with its two main spring branches, the Bafing and the Bakoye.
On the basis of the rainfall there are different characteristic zonal bands in which the rainfall has very sensitive annual variations, with shifts of isohytes which, even in more recent years, have left the Sahel and the southernmost belt parched, with dramatic consequences for life. of local populations. But apart from these exceptional vintages, the rainiest band is recognized as S. It is the Sudanese environment of the savannahs strewn with baobabs and trees of other trunks, with evergreen forest strips along the rivers, it is in this area that the relatively flat lands are cultivated. In the central section of the delta, rainfall begins to decrease and there is a sparse savannah that gradually passes from S to N into the sahel, which begins where the last baobabs dominate the shrub formations, which then pass into grassy surfaces or in sparse and low thorny shrubs. Moving north, the desert environment of the Sahara begins; the vegetation of acacias and other xerophilous species takes on dwarf dimensions and gathers around the uidians. In the savannah and at the edge of the forest live large reptiles, such as crocodiles, iguanas, monitor lizards, boas and snakes of different species; monkeys and ruminants, such as gazelles and antelopes, prey for big cats, such as lions, panthers and hyenas. Elephants live in the south, while the Baoulé basin (SE of Bamako) is a large reserve of buffalo and koba (a particular species of antelope). The environmental problems that most afflict the country are deforestation, excessive exploitation of the territory for grazing livestock, the process of desertification and soil erosion. 2.1% of the national territory is protected by the state; three national parks, protected areas and a site declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO are identified: the Bandiagara Cliff (land of the Dogon, 1989).
ECONOMY: INDUSTRY AND MINERAL RESOURCES
There is no basic industry (the energy input is also very modest: only 410 million kWh per year are produced, mostly of water origin thanks to the construction of hydroelectric plants on Niger and Senegal) and manufacturing activity, largely semi-artisan, is eminently based on the transformation of agricultural and livestock products, thus including oil mills, cotton mills, breweries, sugar mills, tobacco factories, tanneries; also small soap factories, cement factories etc. work. Mali also has fine craftsmanship (fabrics, leathers, ceramic jewelery and woodworking). § Geological explorations have ascertained the presence of various minerals, including iron and oil, but at the moment the mining activity concerns only phosphates, gold (with reserves estimated to be in the order of 500 tons and which represents one of the main export items) and uranium, in addition to the salt deposits of the Sahara, which have long been exploited. The salt is taken from the Taoudenni mines and transported again on the back of a camel.
ECONOMY: TRADE, COMMUNICATIONS AND TOURISM
Trade, both within the country and with foreign countries, is still rather limited. Mali mainly exports gold and cotton (fiber and fabrics), peanuts and head of cattle, while it mainly imports vehicles and machinery, foodstuffs, petroleum products and various artifacts. The trade balance is always a liability. Foreign exchanges take place with France, with neighboring Senegal and with China. § The general delay of the Mali economy is also due to the lack of an efficient system of communication and transport routes, which among other things makes it even more difficult to market the goods produced, especially in a country that has no outlets to the sea. The priority axis of communications is represented by rivers, mainly from Niger, navigable here for approx. 1800 km (covered by regular boat services, to which is added a dense movement of pirogues carrying salt, fish, cereals, etc.) and from Senegal. As for railways, Mali can only count on the Bamako-Dakar line (1287 km long, about half in Malian territory), thanks to which the country can access the large Senegalese port. There are also few good roads, although the sector has been sufficiently strengthened and we have, the data is for 2004, approx. 18,709 km of roads (only half of them accessible all year round) able to connect Mali with all the surrounding states. Air transport plays an important role; the main airports are those of Bamako / Sénou and Mopti. Koulikoro has a river port.
In the region of the Malian Sahara, engravings and rock paintings dating back to around 5000 BC have been found; in 1927 a human skeleton was discovered near the city of Tombouctou which has been traced back to the same period.