Overview

The multi-ethnic country of Mali is located in Western Africa and achieved independence from its former French colonial power on 22 September 1960. The country’s name can be traced back to the powerful Mali Empire under the rule of the Keita dynasty in the 12th to 14th century. Today, people of different religious and cultural backgrounds live side by side in the predominantly Islamic Mali.

Mali’s politics were characterized by instability, military regimes and reoccurring political unrest until 1992 when free parliamentary and presidential elections were held and the Third Republic was established. The new constitution, based on the French model and its presidential democracy, was seen as the necessary foundation for the country’s democratic transition. For some time, the new political system seemed robust and Mali was seen as a good role model for democratic stability. However, the existing judicial system does not stop widespread corruption and patronage systems. The judiciary is weak and faces a massively growing drug market. Furthermore, a number of armed confrontations and religiously motivated terror attacks occurred in the course of the following years, most notably in the northern parts of the country.

In 2012, the lack of political opposition, as well as the weak state structures and corruption led to another military coup, claiming many victims. At the same time, the ethnically and politically driven conflict between government forces and rebels in northern Mali escalated. In the end, it needed an international military intervention led by France and assisted by UN troops to reconquer occupied areas. The security situation has since improved but remains tense.

In 2013, the political conditions were improved. Parliamentary and presidential elections were held to strengthen the fragile stability. Putting an end to armed conflict in northern Mali, fighting poverty, stimulating economic growth, enhanced decentralization efforts, as well as the establishment of a stable and democratic state under the rule of law, have been high on the political agenda ever since.

Over the past few years, some progress in the fight against poverty – in particular concerning education and health services – has been achieved. However, the country’s health and education systems remain dangerously underdeveloped.
Access to sanitary facilities, medical care, and clean water have still not been realized for many people.
A low standard of education, overcrowded classrooms and high dropout and resetting rates are as clearly visible as the prevalence of child labor in agriculture and mobile commerce.
Another apparent problem is the high number of street children who do not have any access to education or health services, live in poverty and have to fend for themselves.

Facts

Capital Bamako (2.515 Million 2015)
Area 1,24 Mio. km²
Official language French
Currency CFA-Franc
GDP (per capita in purchasing power parities) ~ 1174 US-$ (2016)
Population: ~ 16,955,536 (July 2015)
Poverty Rate (under 2$/day) 50,4% (2016)
Illiteracy rate (above the age of 15) 61,3 % (2015)
Child labor (Between 5-14) 1.485.027 ~ 36 %(2010)
Child mortality 102 /1.000 births (2015)
Rate of malnourished children (under the age of 5) 32% (2008)
Maternal mortality 587/100.000 births (2015)
Life expectancy ~ 55.34 years (2015)

Sources

GIZ Länderportal
CIA The World Factbook