Welcome to Mali

Mali is a very special country. Through our videos, we've tried to give you some idea of the things which are important to us, like the plants we grow and the music of our country. Take a look and listen to some of the sights and sounds of Mali.

Food & Daily life

A heavy workload

Life in Mali can be hard, particularly for the country’s women who bear much of the workload. But there is no shortage of good humour or enjoyment of each other’s company.

My family

A loving mother

Sekou was brought up with his SOS brothers and sisters in the SOS Children’s Village of Sanankoroba. He's grateful for the love and support of his SOS mother, as well as the opportunities he's been given in life.

Facts & Figures

A young population

Children (under 18) make up two-fifths of Mali’s population. Find more country facts here.


Kora magic

The kora is one of Mali's traditional musical instruments. In this video, we're lucky to have experts who can show us how this wonderful instrument is made and played.

Shea butter

A natural oil

Karité trees grow in many parts of Mali and provide an important source of revenue for local women. The trees bear nuts which are rich in oil. This oil is used to make a natural ingredient used in cosmetics around the world – shea butter.

Welcome to Mali

Welcome to Mali. My name's Bobo.

Through our videos, we've tried to give you some idea of what life is like in and around Bamako. For example, cotton is very important here, as are the nuts from karité trees. Kola nuts are also highly valued. Take a look at some of the local produce, as well as other sights and sounds from our region.


Africa has a high number of communicable diseases, which place a huge burden on healthcare systems. The vast majority of malaria cases and HIV/AIDS-related deaths occur in Africa; these two diseases currently represent the greatest threats.

With low investment in healthcare and a severe shortage of medical staff, many countries struggle to meet the health needs of their people.


Africa has some of the most distinctive cuisines and flavours in the world. Food varies widely, but there are commonalities across regions. Depending on what's grown locally, dishes are also influenced by the traders, immigrants and rulers who settled across the continent. Arab, Asian and European elements blend in with traditional African cooking.

People & Culture

A rich history

Over 30 African languages are spoken in Mali by the different groups of people. Some of these groups can trace their history back over 500 years to the region’s ancient empires.

Games & Sport

Africa is home to arguably the oldest-recorded games and sports. While some are only known through archaeology, modern-day games and sports such as Mancala/Mankala and Nubian wrestling are very much alive today.

Of course, new sports have come along to claim the attention of Africans. You may have heard of one - it's called football.

Agriculture & Famine

A quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished and famines can impact whole regions.

Land is available to grow more food locally, but investment is needed in  technologies such as irrigation for land to be used effectively. Farmers must also adapt to climate change if they are to feed the continent's rising population.


Around one in six children born in sub-Saharan Africa don't live to see their fifth birthday and life can be tough for those who do.

What are the common challenges facing African children and how do their lives compare with those of children in the UK?

Tourism & Communications

Glorious mud

Ancient towns, such as Timbuktu, and traditional mud-built villages provide visitors with a rich experience of the country’s history, architecture and culture.

Climate & Agriculture

Following the river

Much of Mali is taken up by desert or the semi-arid land which forms part of the Sahel region. But agriculture thrives in the south and along the River Niger.

Mali map

Explore Mali

Learn more about some of the most important places and features of Mali.

Poverty & Healthcare

Reaching a good age

With poor medical care and high rates of malnutrition and disease, Malians do well to reach old age.

Geography & Wildlife

With its varied geography and diverse habits, the African continent is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. Though famous for its 'big game' animals, Africa has huge numbers of fish, mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and insect species, as well as many tree, plant and flower species.


‘People are the real wealth of a nation.’ This is the belief of the United Nations, whose Millenium Development Goals provide a framework for improving the lives of millions.

It helps when nations are peaceful, stable and growing economically. But where even the poorest countries focus on health, education and creating fairer societies, more Africans have the chance of a better life.

Cotton fields

Relying on cotton

Most of Mali’s population work in agriculture, particularly in the fertile areas along the River Niger and in the region of Sikasso, with its high rainfall. Cotton is grown as the main export crop and farmers rely on a good harvest.


The first humans are thought to have lived in Africa and powerful African empires formed from the medieval age onwards.

However, today's African nations were shaped by the European powers who colonised this vast continent. Having gained their independence, many African countries are still coming to terms with the legacy left by their colonisers.

History & Politics

Ancient kingdoms

The Mali and Songhai Empires were powerful ancient kingdoms in this region of Africa, long before the arrival of the Moroccans and then the French. Independent since 1960, Mali is now a republic, though the country struggles with periods of political unrest caused by uncertainty in the north.


Across the rest of the world, absolute poverty has halved over recent decades, but in Africa it has barely fallen.

About two-fifths of the population of sub-Saharan Africa survive week by week on what someone in the UK earns from just one hour's work on the minimum wage.

Building miniatures

Mud miniatures

At the open air museum in Bamako, miniature building replicas have been created to show examples of Mali's famous mud architecture. But the beautiful park surroundings seem to be a bigger attraction for local youngsters.

Children's stories

La méchanceté de la marâtre

Some of the children at the SOS Children’s Village in Sanankoroba took part in a film-making workshop. The film they created is not your usual story with a happy ending.

Kola nuts

Nuts for a boost

High in caffeine, kola nuts give a quick energy boost when chewed. Since ancient times, they've been used as tokens of friendship and respect.

Geography & Wildlife

Dramatic scenery

Mali boasts some truly dramatic scenery, from the rolling sands of the Sahara desert in the north to the spectacular mountains, cliffs and plateaux of the south.


A woman’s status varies by country and region across Africa. In many parts, women struggle against inequality in laws, education, pay and domestic responsibilities.

Women’s health is also at risk from traditional practices such as early marriage. But with better education, girls can make more informed choices, leading to the greater development of African nations.


Africa is a massive continent, with a range of climates. Some regions are hot and dry, like the Sahara, Kalahari and Namib deserts. Other parts are wet or covered in tropical rainforest. Conditions also vary by altitude, from the dry salt pans of the Danakil Depression (one of the lowest points on earth) to the snowcaps (at certain times) of the highest mountains. Weather-wise, Africa has it all!

Education & Jobs

Low rates of literacy

Due to widespread poverty in Mali, many children do not attend school and less than half of young people can read and write.

Economy & Industry

A poor country

Mali is a key exporter of cotton and gold. But it is still a very poor country, with over half the population living below the poverty line.

Mali topics Facts & Figures Poverty & Healthcare Food & Daily life My family People & Culture Geography & Wildlife Climate & Agriculture Cotton fields Kora Welcome to Mali Shea butter Economy & Industry Kola nuts Education & Jobs Children's stories History & Politics Building miniatures Mali map Tourism & Communications