Mostly flat to rolling northern plains covered by sand; savanna in south, rugged hills in northeast
Sahel Region: Terrain/Geography (1:10)
Subtropical to arid; hot and dry (February to June); rainy, humid and mild (June to November); cool and dry (November to February)
Population: 16,455,903 (July 2014 est.)
Languages: French (official), Bambara 46.3%, Peul/foulfoulbe 9.4%, Dogon 7.2%, Maraka/soninke 6.4%, Malinke 5.6%, Sonrhai/djerma 5.6%, Minianka 4.3%, Tamacheg 3.5%, Senoufo 2.6%, unspecified 0.6%, other 8.5%; Note: Mali has 13 national languages in addition to its official language
Muslim 94.8%, Christian 2.4%, Animist 2%, none 0.5%, unspecified 0.3% (2009 census)
Among the 25 poorest countries in the world, Mali is a landlocked country that depends on gold mining and agricultural exports for revenue. Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger River and about 65% of its 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. Mali remains dependent on foreign aid.
Life is difficult for the majority of Malians. Wages in many jobs and businesses are low. Those with an income must support extended family members as well as their own nuclear families. All Malians have many obligations toward less fortunate relatives. Households rarely encompass only a nuclear family. An increasing number of households with access to electricity own television sets and, to a lesser extent, VCRs. The interiors of most rural and urban homes are very modest.
US Military Presence/Support
The United States ended all assistance to Mali after a March 2012 military coup. This restriction, however, was lifted in September 2013 after the democratic election of a new President. Support for bilateral development in Mali is now being provided, but security assistance is still being assessed.