Mali is a landlocked country in the West Africa. It is a very big country, actually it's the 8th biggest country in Africa in terms of size. However the population is not that big, with around 20 millions habitants. It's capital and largest city is in Bamako, which is towards the southern part of the country and has a population over about 3 million people.
Mali has a very rich history, going back thousands of years. It is known for legendary places such as Timbuktu, Djenne and other sites. It is also known for being the home of the richest man in history, Mansah Moussa.
However, today's Mali is in a more complicated situation. With 2 military coup d'etat in the past 10 years, the country is traversing a political and security crisis. Although the capital city of Bamako feels safe most of the time, the northern parts of the country is unsafe and largely subject to attacks from rebels or opportunistic criminals. This has lead many of the people living in the northern regions of the country to move down to the south, towards Bamako, Sikasso and other regions. Most of international companies, NGOs, Embassy staff are now located in Bamako. Nonetheless, despite all these situations, this does not stop the population, expats included, from enjoying their time in Bamako and going out as they please, to a wide array of restaurants, bars and night clubs.
The main export of Mali is gold, and the country is one of the biggest producers of gold in Africa. With 14 very large mines, and countless small gold mines, the country exports over 2 billion dollars worth of gold every year. Most of the larger investors in gold mines in Mali are from other countries, such as Canada, Australia, South Africa etc. Some of the biggest mining corporations operating in Mali are B2Gold, AngloGold Ashanti, IAMGold and many others. We will write a whole other blog post about the mining sector in Mali as it is vast, including all the annex services it brings to the country. Transportation is obviously a big annex service and Faso Logistics proudly operates in this field. We rent vehicles and machines to mining companies as well.
The second biggest export of Mali is cotton, as the country is the largest producer of cotton in all of Africa. Blessed with large amounts of water accessible land, cotton mostly grows in the south of the country, in the Sikasso region. Nearly 25% of the Malian population benefit from some type of cotton revenue, whether it's the producers, distributors or others. As of right now, only 2% of the cotton produced in Mali stays in the country to be transformed. The rest is exported to international markets for sale.
The official language in Mali is French, and the most common language spoken is Bambara. There are many different ethnicities in Mali and many languages, including Fulani, Bozo, Dogon, Tuareg, Songhai, Arabic and many others. With such a vast a diverse country, it is not a surprise that you will hear a variety of different languages spoken in the streets.