Known as the “Jewel of West Africa’s Crown” the landlocked country of Mali is bordered by Algeria to the north, Niger to the east, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire to the south, Guinea to the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania to the west. Its capital is Bamako and it lies between latitudes 10° and 25°N, and longitudes 13°W and 5°E. The official currency of Mali is the CFA Franc and the official language is French. Mali gained its independence from France on September 22, 1960. As a colony since the 1890s, it was known as French Sudan.


Mali has over 20 tribal groups and around 50% of the population belong to the Mande group which includes the tribes of Bambara, Malinke and Sarakole. Other tribes include the Peul who account for 17% of the population while the Voltaic account for 12%, the Songhai for 6% and the Tuareg and Moor for 5%.

Notable Places to Visit

The Bandiagara Site

An outstanding landscape of cliffs and sandy plateaux with some beautiful architecture (houses, granaries, altars, sanctuaries and Togu Na, or communal meeting-places). The Bandiagara Escarpment is in the Dogon country of Mali. The sandstone cliff rises about 500 meters above the lower sandy flats to the south. It has a length of approximately 150 kilometers. The area of the escarpment is inhabited today by the Dogon people. Before the Dogon, the escarpment was inhabited by the Tellem and Toloy. Many structures remain from the Tellem. The Bandiagara Escarpment was listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1989. The geological, archaeological and ethnological interests, together with the landscape, make the Bandiagara plateau one of West Africa's most impressive sites

Ancient City of Timbuktu

Synonymous to 19th century Europeans as an elusive, hard-to-reach destination. The city gained World fame in 1390 when its ruler, Mansa Kankan Musa, went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, stopping with his entourage in Egypt and dispensing enough gold to devalue the Egyptian currency. Timbuktu is situated 15km (9.3mi) north of the River Niger on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. The town is the capital of the Timbuktu Region, one of the eight administrative regions of Mali. Tales of Timbuktu fabulous wealth helped prompt European exploration of the west coast of Africa.

City on the Niger

Located along the banks of the World-renowned Niger River, Bamako city is one of the richest areas in West Africa. Tourists from around the world visit the city to glimpse the lively traditional culture. The various ethnic groups within the city take pride in following their traditions and reflect it effectively in their day-to-day lives, religious ceremonies, festivals and wonderful artifacts. Some major interesting places to visit in Bamako include Bamako Grand Mosque, Pont du Roi Fahd, Muso Kunda Museum and Bamako Regional Museum. Besides this, the Bamako Zoo, Point G Hill, Bamako Botanical Garden and Mali National Museum also attract tourists from around the world. The city is also renowned for its rich musical heritage and is renowned throughout the continent for its musical influence. The Niger River that serves as the lifeline of the country winds through lush forested areas and passes through numerous small river side towns and villages. The colorful markets followed by remotely located mud villages and the scenic areas of the Niger delta are some of the major tourist attractions in Mali.

Gouina Falls (Chutes de Gouina)

On the stretch of the Sénégal River in Mali between the towns of Bafoulabé (upstream) and Diamou (downstream) in the Kayes Region, where the river runs north from the Talari Gorges. They have been called the "Niagara falls of Mali."The river is about 500 m wide at this point, and drops 16 m over the falls. The volume of water is 12-13m3 per second in the dry season, and up to 2430 m3 in the rainy season.

Mount Hombori

Located in Mopti, this is the tallest mountain in Mali. An isolated monolith with nearly steep sides, rising some 750 m above the surroundings. Caves in this mountain have been inhabited for some 2000 years.

Hand of Fatima

Here lies one of most impressive rock formations in the world - a group of vertical cliffs up to 600 m high and resembling a giant hands rising from the desert. Locals of Mopti regard it as a sacred place.

Fara Missiri

This mysterious grotto in Sikasso is important to local animist religion. The grotto is adorned with stalactites and stalagmites and is some 50 to 80 m high

Tomb of Askia

In Gao there is an unusual, 17m high pyramidal adobe structure - purported tomb of Askia Mohammad I, emperor of Songhai. Constructed at the end of 15th century AD, today it is used as a mosque.


This man-made landmark in Koulikoro is a circular brick building with a conical roof. It is reroofed every 7 years and walls inside and outside are painted with interesting pictographs, which are predictions of what will happen in the coming seven years.


Notable Events

  • Festival au Désert (Festival in the Desert)
  • Festival sur le Niger (Niger River Festival)
  • Salt Caravans Cultural Tour, Timbuktu
  • Gouin Festival, Gouina
  • Diamwari Festival, Mopti
  • Daoula-Ba Festival, Soh
  • International Rails Festival, Kayes (City of Rails)
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