Photos of Mali



Present-day Mali is named for the Mali Empire that at its peak in the 14th century covered an area about twice the size of modern-day France and stretched to the west coast of Africa. In the late 19th century, France seized control of Mali. The Sudanese Republic and Senegal became independent of France in 1960 as the Mali Federation. When Senegal withdrew after only a few months, what formerly made up the Sudanese Republic was renamed Mali. Rule by dictatorship was brought to a close in 1991 by a military coup that ushered in a period of democratic rule. President Alpha Oumar KONARE won Mali's first two democratic presidential elections in 1992 and 1997. In keeping with Mali's two-term constitutional limit, he stepped down in 2002 and was succeeded by Amadou Toumani TOURE, who was elected to a second term in a 2007 election that was widely judged to be free and fair. Malian returnees from Libya in 2011 exacerbated tensions in northern Mali, and Tuareg ethnic militias rebelled in January 2012. Low- and mid-level soldiers, frustrated with the poor handling of the rebellion, overthrew TOURE on 22 March. Intensive mediation efforts led by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) returned power to a civilian administration in April with the appointment of Interim President Dioncounda TRAORE.

The post-coup chaos led to rebels expelling the Malian military from the country's three northern regions and allowed Islamic militants to set up strongholds. Hundreds of thousands of northern Malians fled the violence to southern Mali and neighboring countries, exacerbating regional food shortages in host communities. A French-led international military intervention to retake the three northern regions began in January 2013 and within a month, most of the north had been retaken. In a democratic presidential election conducted in July and August of 2013, Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA was elected president. The Malian Government and northern armed groups signed an internationally mediated peace accord in June 2015, however, the parties to the peace accord have made little progress in the accord's implementation, despite a June 2017 target for its completion. Furthermore, extremist groups outside the peace process made steady inroads into rural areas of central Mali following the consolidation of three major terrorist organizations in March 2017. In central and northern Mali, terrorist groups have exploited age-old ethnic rivalries between pastoralists and sedentary communities and inflicted serious losses on the Malian military. Intercommunal violence incidents such as targeted killings occur with increasing regularity. KEITA was reelected president in 2018 in an election that was deemed credible by international observers, despite some security and logistic shortfalls. Security problems continued to plague the country during KEITA's second term, which contributed to growing frustration among the populace and within the government and military.  In August 2020, the military arrested KEITA, his prime minister, and other senior members of the government, and establised a junta, the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP). In September 2020, a transitional government was established with Bah NDAW, a retired military officer and former defense minister as interim president, and Colonel Assimi GOITA, the army coup leader and chairman of the CNSP as interim vice president.

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interior Western Africa, southwest of Algeria, north of Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso, west of Niger

Geographic coordinates

17 00 N, 4 00 W


total: 1,240,192 sq km

land: 1,220,190 sq km

water: 20,002 sq km

country comparison to the world: 25

Area - comparative

slightly less than twice the size of Texas

Land boundaries

total: 7,908 km

border countries (7): Algeria 1359 km, Burkina Faso 1325 km, Cote d'Ivoire 599 km, Guinea 1062 km, Mauritania 2236 km, Niger 838 km, Senegal 489 km


0 km (landlocked)

Maritime claims

none (landlocked)


subtropical to arid; hot and dry (February to June); rainy, humid, and mild (June to November); cool and dry (November to February)


mostly flat to rolling northern plains covered by sand; savanna in south, rugged hills in northeast


mean elevation: 343 m

lowest point: Senegal River 23 m

highest point: Hombori Tondo 1,155 m

Natural resources

gold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, gypsum, granite, hydropower, note, bauxite, iron ore, manganese, tin, and copper deposits are known but not exploited

Land use

agricultural land: 34.1% (2018 est.)

arable land: 5.6% (2018 est.)

permanent crops: 0.1% (2018 est.)

permanent pasture: 28.4% (2018 est.)

forest: 10.2% (2018 est.)

other: 55.7% (2018 est.)

Irrigated land

3,780 sq km (2012)

Population distribution

the overwhelming majority of the population lives in the southern half of the country, with greater density along the border with Burkina Faso as shown in this population distribution map

Natural hazards

hot, dust-laden harmattan haze common during dry seasons; recurring droughts; occasional Niger River flooding

Geography - note

landlocked; divided into three natural zones: the southern, cultivated Sudanese; the central, semiarid Sahelian; and the northern, arid Saharan

People and Society


noun: Malian(s)

adjective: Malian

Ethnic groups

Bambara 33.3%, Fulani (Peuhl) 13.3%, Sarakole/Soninke/Marka 9.8%, Senufo/Manianka 9.6%, Malinke 8.8%, Dogon 8.7%, Sonrai 5.9%, Bobo 2.1%, Tuareg/Bella 1.7%, other Malian 6%, from members of Economic Community of West Africa .4%, other .3% (2018 est.)


French (official), Bambara 46.3%, Peuhl/Foulfoulbe 9.4%, Dogon 7.2%, Maraka/Soninke 6.4%, Malinke 5.6%, Sonrhai/Djerma 5.6%, Minianka 4.3%, Tamacheq 3.5%, Senoufo 2.6%, Bobo 2.1%, unspecified 0.7%, other 6.3% (2009 est.)

note: Mali has 13 national languages in addition to its official language


Muslim 93.9%, Christian 2.8%, animist .7%, none 2.5% (2018 est.)

Demographic profile

Mali’s total population is expected to double by 2035; its capital Bamako is one of the fastest-growing cities in Africa. A young age structure, a declining mortality rate, and a sustained high total fertility rate of 6 children per woman – the third highest in the world – ensure continued rapid population growth for the foreseeable future. Significant outmigration only marginally tempers this growth. Despite decreases, Mali’s infant, child, and maternal mortality rates remain among the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa because of limited access to and adoption of family planning, early childbearing, short birth intervals, the prevalence of female genital cutting, infrequent use of skilled birth attendants, and a lack of emergency obstetrical and neonatal care.

Mali’s high total fertility rate has been virtually unchanged for decades, as a result of the ongoing preference for large families, early childbearing, the lack of female education and empowerment, poverty, and extremely low contraceptive use. Slowing Mali’s population growth by lowering its birth rate will be essential for poverty reduction, improving food security, and developing human capital and the economy.

Mali has a long history of seasonal migration and emigration driven by poverty, conflict, demographic pressure, unemployment, food insecurity, and droughts. Many Malians from rural areas migrate during the dry period to nearby villages and towns to do odd jobs or to adjoining countries to work in agriculture or mining. Pastoralists and nomads move seasonally to southern Mali or nearby coastal states. Others migrate long term to Mali’s urban areas, Cote d’Ivoire, other neighboring countries, and in smaller numbers to France, Mali’s former colonial ruler. Since the early 1990s, Mali’s role has grown as a transit country for regional migration flows and illegal migration to Europe. Human smugglers and traffickers exploit the same regional routes used for moving contraband drugs, arms, and cigarettes.

Between early 2012 and 2013, renewed fighting in northern Mali between government forces and Tuareg secessionists and their Islamist allies, a French-led international military intervention, as well as chronic food shortages, caused the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Malians. Most of those displaced domestically sought shelter in urban areas of southern Mali, except for pastoralist and nomadic groups, who abandoned their traditional routes, gave away or sold their livestock, and dispersed into the deserts of northern Mali or crossed into neighboring countries. Almost all Malians who took refuge abroad (mostly Tuareg and Maure pastoralists) stayed in the region, largely in Mauritania, Niger, and Burkina Faso.

Age structure

0-14 years: 47.69% (male 4,689,121/female 4,636,685)

15-24 years: 19% (male 1,768,772/female 1,945,582)

25-54 years: 26.61% (male 2,395,566/female 2,806,830)

55-64 years: 3.68% (male 367,710/female 352,170)

65 years and over: 3.02% (male 293,560/female 297,401) (2020 est.)

Dependency ratios

total dependency ratio: 98

youth dependency ratio: 93.1

elderly dependency ratio: 4.9

potential support ratio: 20.4 (2020 est.)

Median age

total: 16 years

male: 15.3 years

female: 16.7 years (2020 est.)

country comparison to the world: 224

Birth rate

41.6 births/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 3

Death rate

8.77 deaths/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 65

Net migration rate

-3.17 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 180

Population distribution

the overwhelming majority of the population lives in the southern half of the country, with greater density along the border with Burkina Faso as shown in this population distribution map


urban population: 43.9% of total population (2020)

rate of urbanization: 4.86% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

Major urban areas - population

2.713 million BAMAKO (capital) (2021)

Sex ratio

at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female

0-14 years: 1.01 male(s)/female

15-24 years: 0.91 male(s)/female

25-54 years: 0.85 male(s)/female

55-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.99 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2020 est.)

Mother's mean age at first birth

18.9 years (2018 est.)

note: median age at first birth among women 25-29

Maternal mortality rate

562 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 15

Infant mortality rate

total: 62.31 deaths/1,000 live births

male: 67.79 deaths/1,000 live births

female: 56.66 deaths/1,000 live births (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 12

Life expectancy at birth

total population: 62.01 years

male: 59.81 years

female: 64.28 years (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 211

Total fertility rate

5.63 children born/woman (2021 est.)

country comparison to the world: 4

Drinking water source

improved: urban: 97.1% of population

rural: 72.8% of population

total: 82.9% of population

unimproved: urban: 2.9% of population

rural: 27.2% of population

total: 17.1% of population (2017 est.)

Physicians density

0.13 physicians/1,000 population (2018)

Hospital bed density

0.1 beds/1,000 population (2010)

Sanitation facility access

improved: urban: 82.5% of population

rural: 34.1% of population

total: 54.2% of population

unimproved: urban: 17.5% of population

rural: 65.9% of population

total: 45.8% of population (2017 est.)

Major infectious diseases

degree of risk: very high (2020)

food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever

vectorborne diseases: malaria and dengue fever

water contact diseases: schistosomiasis

animal contact diseases: rabies

respiratory diseases: meningococcal meningitis


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 35.5%

male: 46.2%

female: 25.7% (2018)

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)

total: 8 years

male: 8 years

female: 7 years (2017)

Unemployment, youth ages 15-24

total: 16.9%

male: 15.3%

female: 18.8% (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 79


Country name

conventional long form: Republic of Mali

conventional short form: Mali

local long form: Republique de Mali

local short form: Mali

former: French Sudan and Sudanese Republic

etymology: name derives from the West African Mali Empire of the 13th to 16th centuries A.D.

Government type

semi-presidential republic


name: Bamako

geographic coordinates: 12 39 N, 8 00 W

time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

etymology: the name in the Bambara language can mean either "crocodile tail" or "crocodile river" and three crocodiles appear on the city seal

Administrative divisions

10 regions (regions, singular - region), 1 district*; District de Bamako*, Gao, Kayes, Kidal, Koulikoro, Menaka, Mopti, Segou, Sikasso, Taoudenni, Tombouctou (Timbuktu); note - Menaka and Taoudenni were legislated in 2016, but implementation has not been confirmed by the US Board on Geographic Names


22 September 1960 (from France)

National holiday

Independence Day, 22 September (1960)


history: several previous; latest drafted August 1991, approved by referendum 12 January 1992, effective 25 February 1992, suspended briefly in 2012

amendments: proposed by the president of the republic or by members of the National Assembly; passage requires two-thirds majority vote by the Assembly and approval in a referendum; constitutional sections on the integrity of the state, its republican and secular form of government, and its multiparty system cannot be amended; note - in early 2021, Prime Minister Moctar OUANE called for adopting a new constitution

Legal system

civil law system based on the French civil law model and influenced by customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in the Constitutional Court

International law organization participation

has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICC jurisdiction


citizenship by birth: no

citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Mali

dual citizenship recognized: yes

residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


18 years of age; universal

Executive branch

chief of state: President of transitional government, Bah NDAW (since 25 September 2020); vice president of the transitional government, Assimi GOITA (since 25 September 2020)

note: former president Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA was deposed by the Malian military on 18 August 2020; on 21 September, a group of 17 electors chosen by the Malian military junta, known as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People (CNSP) and led by Colonel Assimi GOITA, selected the transitional president and vice president; the transitional government was inaugurated on 25 September 2020

head of government: Prime Minister Moctar OUANE (appointed by the transitional government on 27 Sep 2020)

note: former PM Boubou CISSE was removed by the military on 18 August 2020

cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister

elections/appointments: president directly elected by absolute majority popular vote in 2 rounds if needed for a 5-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 29 July 2018 with a runoff on 12 August 2018; prime minister appointed by the president

election results: Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA elected president in second round; percent of vote - Ibrahim Boubacar KEITA (RPM) 77.6%, Soumaila CISSE (URD) 22.4%

Legislative branch

description: unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (147 seats; members directly elected in single and multi-seat constituencies by absolute majority vote in 2 rounds if needed; 13 seats reserved for citizens living abroad; members serve 5-year terms)

note - the National Assembly was dissolved on 18 August 2020 following a military coup and the resignation of President KEITA

elections: last held on 30 March and 19 April 2020 (prior to the August 2020 coup, the next election was scheduled to be held in 2025)

election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA composition - NA

Judicial branch

highest courts: Supreme Court or Cour Supreme (consists of 19 judges organized into judicial, administrative, and accounting sectons); Constitutional Court (consists of 9 judges)

judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court judges appointed by the Ministry of Justice to serve 5-year terms; Constitutional Court judges selected - 3 each by the president, the National Assembly, and the Supreme Council of the Magistracy; members serve single renewable 7-year terms

subordinate courts: Court of Appeal; High Court of Justice (jurisdiction limited to cases of high treason or criminal offenses by the president or ministers while in office); administrative courts (first instance and appeal); commercial courts; magistrate courts; labor courts; juvenile courts; special court of state security

Political parties and leaders

African Solidarity for Democracy and Independence or SADI [Oumar MARIKO]
Alliance for Democracy in Mali-Pan-African Party for Liberty, Solidarity, and Justice or ADEMA-PASJ [Tiemoko SANGARE]
Alliance for Democracy and Progress or ADP-Maliba [Amadou THIAM]
Alliance for the Solidarity of Mali-Convergence of Patriotic Forces or ASMA-CFP [Soumeylou Boubeye MAIGA]
Alternative Forces for Renewal and Emergence or FARE [Modibo SIDIBE]
Convergence for the Development of Mali or CODEM [Housseyni Amion GUINDO]
Democratic Alliance for Peace or ADP-Maliba [Aliou Boubacar DIALLO]
Economic and Social Development Party or PDES [Jamille BITTAR]
Front for Democracy and the Republic or FDR (coalition of smaller opposition parties)
National Congress for Democratic Initiative or CNID [Mountaga TALL]
Party for National Renewal or PARENA [Tiebile DRAME]
Patriotic Movement for Renewal or MPR [Choguel Kokalla MAIGA]
Rally for Mali or RPM [Boucary TRETA]
Union for Republic and Democracy or URD [Younoussi TOURE]

International organization participation


Diplomatic representation in the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Mahamadou NIMAGA (since 22 June 2018)

chancery: 2130 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 332-2249, 939-8950

FAX: [1] (202) 332-6603

Diplomatic representation from the US

chief of mission: Ambassador Dennis B. HANKINS (since 15 March 2019)

telephone: [223] 2070-2300

embassy: ACI 2000, Rue 243, (located off the Roi Bin Fahad Aziz Bridge west of the Bamako central district), Porte 297, Bamako

mailing address: ACI 2000, Rue 243, Porte 297, Bamako

FAX: [223] 2070-2479

Flag description

three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), yellow, and red

note: uses the popular Pan-African colors of Ethiopia; the colors from left to right are the same as those of neighboring Senegal (which has an additional green central star) and the reverse of those on the flag of neighboring Guinea

National symbol(s)

Great Mosque of Djenne; national colors: green, yellow, red

National anthem

name: "Le Mali" (Mali)

lyrics/music: Seydou Badian KOUYATE/Banzoumana SISSOKO

note: adopted 1962; also known as "Pour L'Afrique et pour toi, Mali" (For Africa and for You, Mali) and "A ton appel Mali" (At Your Call, Mali)


Economic overview

Among the 25 poorest countries in the world, landlocked Mali depends on gold mining and agricultural exports for revenue. The country's fiscal status fluctuates with gold and agricultural commodity prices and the harvest; cotton and gold exports make up around 80% of export earnings. Mali remains dependent on foreign aid.

Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger River; about 65% of Mali’s land area is desert or semidesert. About 10% of the population is nomadic and about 80% of the labor force is engaged in farming and fishing. Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities. The government subsidizes the production of cereals to decrease the country’s dependence on imported foodstuffs and to reduce its vulnerability to food price shocks.

Mali is developing its iron ore extraction industry to diversify foreign exchange earnings away from gold, but the pace will depend on global price trends. Although the political coup in 2012 slowed Mali’s growth, the economy has since bounced back, with GDP growth above 5% in 2014-17, although physical insecurity, high population growth, corruption, weak infrastructure, and low levels of human capital continue to constrain economic development. Higher rainfall helped to boost cotton output in 2017, and the country’s 2017 budget increased spending more than 10%, much of which was devoted to infrastructure and agriculture. Corruption and political turmoil are strong downside risks in 2018 and beyond.

Real GDP growth rate

5.4% (2017 est.)

5.8% (2016 est.)

6.2% (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 34

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

1.9% (2018 est.)

1.8% (2017 est.)

1.7% (2017 est.)

country comparison to the world: 108

Credit ratings

Moody's rating: Caa1 (2020)

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$45.637 billion (2019 est.)

$43.567 billion (2018 est.)

$41.593 billion (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 117

GDP (official exchange rate)

$17.508 billion (2019 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$2,322 (2019 est.)

$2,284 (2018 est.)

$2,247 (2017 est.)

note: data are in 2010 dollars

country comparison to the world: 206

Gross national saving

15.6% of GDP (2018 est.)

14.3% of GDP (2017 est.)

15.4% of GDP (2015 est.)

country comparison to the world: 141

GDP - composition, by sector of origin

agriculture: 41.8% (2017 est.)

industry: 18.1% (2017 est.)

services: 40.5% (2017 est.)

GDP - composition, by end use

household consumption: 82.9% (2017 est.)

government consumption: 17.4% (2017 est.)

investment in fixed capital: 19.3% (2017 est.)

investment in inventories: -0.7% (2017 est.)

exports of goods and services: 22.1% (2017 est.)

imports of goods and services: -41.1% (2017 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Index scores

Overall score: 52.9 (2020)

Starting a Business score: 84.3 (2020)

Trading score: 73.3 (2020)

Enforcement score: 42.8 (2020)

Agricultural products

maize, rice, millet, sorghum, mangoes/guavas, cotton, watermelons, green onions/shallots, okra, sugar cane


food processing; construction; phosphate and gold mining

Labor force - by occupation

agriculture: 80%

industry and services: 20% (2005 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share

lowest 10%: 3.5%

highest 10%: 25.8% (2010 est.)


revenues: 3.075 billion (2017 est.)

expenditures: 3.513 billion (2017 est.)

Public debt

35.4% of GDP (2017 est.)

36% of GDP (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 150

Fiscal year

calendar year

Current account balance

-$886 million (2017 est.)

-$1.015 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 141


$3.06 billion (2017 est.)

$2.803 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 133

Exports - partners

United Arab Emirates 66%, Switzerland 26% (2019)

Exports - commodities

gold, cotton, sesame seeds, lumber, vegetable oils/residues (2019)


$3.644 billion (2017 est.)

$3.403 billion (2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 148

Imports - partners

Senegal 23%, Cote d'Ivoire 15%, China 11%, France 9% (2019)

Imports - commodities

refined petroleum, clothing and apparel, packaged medicines, cement, broadcasting equipment (2019)

Reserves of foreign exchange and gold

$647.8 million (31 December 2017 est.)

$395.7 million (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 144

Debt - external

$4.192 billion (31 December 2017 est.)

$3.981 billion (31 December 2016 est.)

country comparison to the world: 138

Exchange rates

Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar -

605.3 (2017 est.)

593.01 (2016 est.)

593.01 (2015 est.)

591.45 (2014 est.)

494.42 (2013 est.)


Electricity access

electrification - total population: 50% (2019)

electrification - urban areas: 78% (2019)

electrification - rural areas: 28% (2019)


Telephones - fixed lines

total subscriptions: 227,831

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1.2 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 119

Telephones - mobile cellular

total subscriptions: 21,850,850

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 115.09 (2019 est.)

country comparison to the world: 55

Telecommunication systems

general assessment: telecoms infrastructure is barely adequate in most town and not available in many areas of the country; geography is a challenge for telecommunications; poverty, security, high illiteracy and low PC use has taken its toll; 4 mobile operators in market; mobile penetration high and potential for mobile broadband service; local plans for Internet Exchange Point; as Mali is landlocked there is hope that neighboring countries will allow use of international bandwidth; G5 Sahel countries adopt free roaming measures; Chinese company Huawei attempts to build a national backbone network but security issues make this difficult (2020)

domestic: fixed-line subscribership 1 per 100 persons; mobile-cellular subscribership has increased sharply to over 115 per 100 persons; increasing use of local radio loops to extend network coverage to remote areas (2019)

international: country code - 223; satellite communications center and fiber-optic links to neighboring countries; satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean, 1 Indian Ocean)

note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated

Broadcast media

national public TV broadcaster; 2 privately owned companies provide subscription services to foreign multi-channel TV packages; national public radio broadcaster supplemented by a large number of privately owned and community broadcast stations; transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are available (2019)

Internet users

total: 2,395,886

percent of population: 13% (July 2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 111

Broadband - fixed subscriptions

total: 120,934

subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 1 less than 1 (2018 est.)

country comparison to the world: 119


National air transport system

number of registered air carriers: 0 (2020)

Airports - with paved runways

total: 8 (2019)

over 3,047 m: 1

2,438 to 3,047 m: 4

1,524 to 2,437 m: 2

914 to 1,523 m: 1

Airports - with unpaved runways

total: 17 (2013)

1,524 to 2,437 m: 3 (2013)

914 to 1,523 m: 9 (2013)

under 914 m: 5 (2013)


2 (2013)


total: 593 km (2014)

narrow gauge: 593 km 1.000-m gauge (2014)

country comparison to the world: 110


1,800 km (downstream of Koulikoro; low water levels on the River Niger cause problems in dry years; in the months before the rainy season the river is not navigable by commercial vessels) (2011)

country comparison to the world: 43

Ports and terminals

river port(s): Koulikoro (Niger)

Military and Security

Military and security forces

Malian Armed Forces (FAMa): Army (Armee de Terre; includes a riverine patrol force), Republic of Mali Air Force (Force Aerienne de la Republique du Mali, FARM); National Gendarmerie; National Guard (Garde National du Mali) (2020)

note(s): the Gendarmerie and the National Guard are under the authority of the Ministry of Defense and Veterans Affairs (Ministere De La Defense Et Des Anciens Combattants, MDAC), but operational control is shared between the MDAC and the Ministry of Internal Security and Civil Protection

the Gendarmerie's primary mission is internal security and public order; its duties also include territorial defense, humanitarian operations, intelligence gathering, and protecting private property, mainly in rural areas

the National Guard is a military force responsible for providing security to government facilities and institutions, prison service, public order, humanitarian operations, some border security, and intelligence gathering; it has special units on camels (the Camel Corps) for patrolling the deserts and borders of northern Mali

Military expenditures

2.7% of GDP (2019)

2.9% of GDP (2018)

3% of GDP (2017)

2.6% of GDP (2016)

2.4% of GDP (2015)

country comparison to the world: 34

Military and security service personnel strengths

estimates for the size of the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) vary; approximately 18,000 total troops (13,000 Army; 800 Air Force; 2,000 Gendarmerie; 2,000 National Guard) (2020)

Military equipment inventories and acquisitions

the FAMa's inventory consists primarily of Soviet-era equipment, although in recent years it has received limited quantities of mostly second-hand armaments from more than 15 countries (2020)

Military service age and obligation

18 years of age for selective compulsory and voluntary military service (men and women); 2-year conscript service obligation (2019)

Military - note

prior to the August 2020 coup, the Malian military had intervened in the political arena at least five times since the country gained independence in 1960; two attempts failed (1976 and 1978), while three succeeded in overturning civilian rule (1968, 1991, and 2012); the military collapsed in 2012 during the fighting against Tuareg rebels and Islamic militants; it has been since rebuilt, but continues to have limited capabilities and is heavily reliant on external assistance

since 2017, the FAMa, along with other government security and paramilitary forces, has conducted multiple major operations against militants in the eastern, central, and northern parts of the country; up to 4,000 troops reportedly have been deployed; the stated objectives for the most recent operation (Operation Maliko in early 2020) was to end terrorist activity and restore government authority in seven of the country’s 10 regions, including Mopti, Ségou, Gao, Kidal, Ménaka, Taoudénit, and Timbuktu

Mali is part of a five-nation anti-jihadist task force known as the G5 Sahel Group, set up in 2014 with Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania, and Niger; it has committed 1,100 troops and 200 gendarmes to the force; in early 2020, G5 Sahel military chiefs of staff agreed to allow defense forces from each of the states to pursue terrorist fighters up to 100 km into neighboring countries; the G5 force is backed by the UN, US, and France; G5 troops periodically conduct joint operations with French forces deployed to the Sahel under Operation Barkhane 

the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has operated in the country since 2013; the Mission's responsibilities include providing security, rebuilding Malian security forces, supporting national political dialogue, and assisting in the reestablishment of Malian government authority; as of January 2021, MINUSMA had around 16,500 military, police, and civilian personnel deployed

the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM-M) also has operated in the country since 2013; the EUTM-M provides advice and training to the Malian Armed Forces and military assistance to the G5 Sahel Joint Force; as of March 2021, the mission included almost 700 personnel from 25 European countries


Terrorist group(s)

Ansar al-Dine; Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham in the Greater Sahara; Jama'at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin; al-Mulathamun Battalion (al-Mourabitoun) (2020)

note: details about the history, aims, leadership, organization, areas of operation, tactics, targets, weapons, size, and sources of support of the group(s) appear(s) in Appendix-T

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international

demarcation is underway with Burkina Faso

Refugees and internally displaced persons

refugees (country of origin): 16,938 (Niger), 15,896 (Mauritania), 12,890 (Burkina Faso) (2021)

IDPs: 346,864 (Tuareg rebellion since 2012) (2021)

Trafficking in persons

current situation: Mali is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; internal trafficking is more prevalent than transnational trafficking, but foreign women and girls are forced into domestic servitude, agricultural labor, and support roles in gold mines, as well as subjected to sex trafficking; Malian boys are forced to work in agricultural settings, gold mines, the informal commercial sector and to beg within Mali and neighboring countries; Malians and other Africans who travel through Mali to Mauritania, Algeria, or Libya in hopes of reaching Europe are particularly at risk of becoming victims of human trafficking; men and boys, primarily of Songhai ethnicity, are subjected to debt bondage in the salt mines of Taoudenni in northern Mali; some members of Mali's Tamachek community are subjected to hereditary slavery-related practices; Malian women and girls are victims of sex trafficking in Gabon, Libya, Lebanon, and Tunisia; the recruitment of child soldiers by armed groups in northern Mali decreased

tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - Mali does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; in 2014, Mali was granted a waiver from an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its government has a written plan that, if implemented would constitute making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; officials failed to distribute the 2012 anti-trafficking law to judicial and law enforcement personnel, perpetuating a lack of understanding and awareness of the legislation; anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts decreased in 2014, with only one case investigated and no prosecutions or convictions; fewer victims were identified, and the government did not support the privately funded NGOs and international organizations it relied upon to provide victims with services; the government did not conduct any awareness-raising campaigns, workshops, or training sessions (2015)