Mali History

By | March 8, 2021

Mali is a landlocked country located in West Africa, bordered by Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal and Mauritania. According to homosociety, it has a total land area of 1.24 million square kilometers and a population of 19.5 million people. The official language is French, although Bambara is also widely spoken. The currency used in Mali is the West African CFA franc (XOF). Islam is the main religion practiced in the country, with approximately 94% of the population identifying as Muslim. Mali has a rich cultural heritage with many unique customs and traditions still practiced today. In terms of tourism, Mali offers visitors stunning landscapes and diverse wildlife. Additionally, it provides opportunities to explore traditional villages and learn about local cultures and customs as well as plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, biking and canoeing.

The area around present-day Mali is one of the most densely populated regions in Africa, as many Stone Age finds tell us. Due to the early trade between West Africa and North Africa, which crossed the Sahara, in this area several state formation occurred even before our time calculation. A series of kingdoms emerged and disintegrated, such as Ghana, Mali and Songhai.

Mali has taken its name from the empire which had its peak in the 1300s, the Mali Empire. Then several groups of people rose to the central power and took control of large areas. The Mali kingdom ceased to be a political entity of significance around 1550.

From the gradual disintegration of the Mali kingdom to the colonization of France in the late 1800s, there were several state formations in the country, several of which opposed the French influence and conquest. Before the arrival of the French, Bamako was a center of trade along the Niger River. Political power along this important river was not centralized, but some rulers controlled large areas and demanded taxes from residents as merchants. They were also behind looting.

Some political centers of power existed in central and southern Mali in the late 19th century, partly as a result of Islamic wars. See abbreviationfinder for geography, history, society, politics, and economy of Mali. One of them was the Toucouleur empire, led by al-Hadj Umar, who went to war against the Malinkas and surrendered the Bambara Empire, but was himself beaten by Tuareg and Fulani forces. Other centers of power grew under the leadership of Samori Touré and Tieba Traoré – both in the south. Disputes between them led to both weakening as France intensified its colonization in the 1880s.

Mali Life Expectancy 2021


French influence in the region began in the 18th century, and expansion into modern Mali occurred from the west along the Senegal River, from Dakar, with the aim of securing communication between various French areas of interest in West Africa.

In 1855 France established a fort in Medina, to the west of today’s Mali. This was besieged by al-Hadj Umar in 1857, but he failed to oust the French. The construction of the railway from Senegal to Niger was an important part of the French strategy in the colonial race with the United Kingdom. Another part was the signing of agreements with local rulers – to gain a foothold, also militarily, and then to break them. Thus, in the early 1880s, France entered Toucouleur and included Bamako and Kita. Segu was captured in 1890, Macina in 1892, despite armed resistance. After taking Timbuktu, all of modern Mali – with the exception of remote areas in the north – was subject to French control.

  • COUNTRYAAH.COM: Provides latest population data about Mali. Lists by Year from 1950 to 2020. Also includes major cities by population.

France sought to integrate Senegal and Mali into one territory, called French Sudan from 1890 to 1899, then the colony was named Upper Senegal-Niger 1904-1920. It had its capital in Kayes from 1880, and from 1895 it became part of the administrative unit French West Africa – a federation of eight French territories in West Africa, which existed until 1958. France recruited French Sudan soldiers (the name was taken in use again when Niger was separated as a separate military district) into the two world wars, and this experience contributed to increased use of Africans in administrative positions – and to increasing demands for independence. Taxation and forced labor contributed to the dissatisfaction with the colonial government.

After World War II, political parties were established to fight for seats in the French National Assembly. At the so-called Bamako Congress in 1946, the all-African political group Rassemblement démocratique africaine (RDA) was established; soon with Modibo Keita as leader. Allied with Union soudanaise (US), the RDA struggled especially with the Party of Soudanais Progressists (PSP) on the political power in Mali – until and after independence.


Elections to a constitutional assembly were held in 1956. It was won by the US-RDA, which thereby formed the first ministerial council for French Sudan in 1957. In 1958 internal self-government within the French Union was introduced, and several territories in West Africa wanted to join in a federation. But only Mali and Senegal joined the Mali Federation that was established in 1959. The federation had a joint national assembly. It gained independence on June 20, 1960, but collapsed after two months when Senegal withdrew for fear of Mali domination. Former French Sudan was then proclaimed as the Republic of Mali on September 22, 1960. Union Soudanais had won the elections, and its leader Modibo Keita became the country’s first president.

Keita pursued a radical, socialist policy, which involved an approach to the neighboring African states of Ghana and Guinea and a partial breach of relations with France. Mali withdrew from the franc zone in 1962 – but rejoined in 1967 as a result of financial difficulties. Towards the end of the 1960s, opposition to Keita’s regime grew, both as a result of economic challenges and political repression. Uprising was fought in 1964 and 1968. After he disbanded the National Assembly in 1968, a group of young officers seized power through a coup d’etat. A military council took control of the country, with Lieutenant (later General) Moussa Traoré as president. A state party, the Union démocratique du peuple malien(UDPM), established in 1976, led by Traoré. In 1979, Traoré was elected president and re-elected in 1985. Both times without a candidate.

Without legal political opposition, opposition to the regime took other forms, and from the late 1980s the demands for democracy grew. In 1990, the opposition organized itself into the National Committee for Democratic Democracy (CNID) and the Alliance for the Democracy in Mali (ADEMA). The following year, Traoré was deposed in a military coup, led by Colonel Lieutenant Amadou Toumani Touré, which paved the way for multi-party government and democracy. As in many other former French colonies in Africa, a national conference was held in the fall of 1991, and a new constitution was passed in a 1992 referendum. the biggest. Alpha Oumar Konaré was elected president and re-elected in 1997. Following the 2002 election, he was succeeded by Amadou Toumani Touré. In 1993 and 1998, former President Moussa Traoré was sentenced to death for involvement in murder and financial crime. Both convictions were turned into life imprisonment and eventually repealed in 2002.

Mali was cited as a model for democratization, but towards the end of the 1990s there was irregularity in electoral elections and persecution of oppositionists, and a coup attempt was averted in 1996. Corruption has become a growing problem in Mali. Especially under Amadou Toumani Touré’s government, corruption has increased among politicians and the state apparatus. This has helped pave the way for Islamist groups that have gradually taken over control of large areas of northern and central Mali, while the state and army in 2017 only control the cities. The Islamists have been successful in profiling themselves in rural areas as opponents of corruption, mismanagement and the privileges of the state’s elite.

Ethnic conflict

In the 1990s, Mali was characterized by an ethnic conflict in the north, where several groups from the Tuareg people rebelled. The conflict between the Tuaregs and the central government has been going on since the 1960s, when the Tuaregs in 1962–1963 first made a revolt that was beaten with military force. The Tuaregs live in and around the Sahara desert, across modern state borders, but in the creation of Mali, about 300,000 Tuaregans became citizens of this state. The main reason for the Tuaregen rebellion is a modernization policy from the state which has, among other things, tried to make the nomads reside. Many Tuaregans feel that their way of life, business path and political and economic position in society have long been marginalized. After the Tuareg guerrillas attacked public targets in eastern Mali in 1990, the government introduced state of emergency in two regions and launched a military action against the militant Tuareg organizations, which then fought for a self-governing Tuareg state in the Sahara.

Several such organizations were active, and four of them joined in 1991 in a joint front, the Front Unifié pour la défense de l’Azawad (FUDA). Negotiations were held in Algeria in 1992, and a peace agreement between the Malian authorities and Tuareg representatives was signed in Algeria. At the same time, songhayer started a movement against the Tuareg rebellion through Mouvement patriotique Ghanda Koy who was also supported and armed by the army. This led to new conflicts and further ethnicisation of the violence. A new peace agreement with the authorities was signed in 1995.

Foreign Policy

In the 1960s, Mali led a radical, pan-African and alliance-free policy. The country sought to contribute to the political unification of Africa, including through the establishment of a Union with Ghana and Guinea, and participation in the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU). At the same time, the country weakened relations with the former colonial power France, in parallel with an approach to Eastern Europe. A western turn with improved relations with France and increased assistance from the West occurred after President Modibo Keita’s fall in 1968. President Moussa Traoré helped put Mali on the map, including through his leadership of the OAU and the Bamako initiative, which sought to promote access to medicines in Africa. He also chaired the UN Summit for Children in 1990.

In 1974, a brief border war was fought between Mali and Burkina Faso (then Upper Volta). The conflict, which was about a disputed border area in Agacher Province, was flared up again with new acts of war in 1985, on which the International Court of Justice in The Hague bailed the conflict. A more enduring conflict with the Tuareg population has been both a domestic matter and a foreign policy matter. The Tuareg nomads live in Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, and a significant part of the Tuareg resistance movement has sought an independent territory, Azawad, within these states. Among those who supported this claim was Libya under Muammar al-Gaddafi who are consequently accused of supporting the rebels with weapons.

During the droughts in the 1970s and 1980s, many Tuareg traveled to Libya to seek work. Many of them got jobs as soldiers in Gaddafi’s army and gained experience of active warfare in Chad and Iraq. It was these professional soldiers who started the Tuareg rebellion in northern Mali in 1990. After the bombing of Libya and Gaddafi’s fall in 2011, a large number (between 1,000 and 4,000) of Tuareg soldiers returned home from Mali. Heavily armed, thanks to the weapons they brought from Libya, they started a new uprising in 2012. Islamist groups that had entered northern Mali from Algeria after the civil war, however, soon took control of this uprising and pushed aside the secular Tuaregs. In January 2013, Islamist forces moved south, but were shot back in areas near Mopti by French forces from which the Malian government had requested assistance.

Mali soldiers participated in the peacekeeping operations in Liberia (ECOMOG) and Rwanda (UNAMIR) during the 1990s. Mali also sent troops to the African Peace Force, which was deployed to the Central African Republic in 1997 after Mali’s former military leader Amadou Toumani Touré had been a mediator in the conflict between the government and the army. Mali participated in the African peace operations in Liberia, Central African Republic and Sierra Leone in the late 1990s. Towards the end of the 1990s, the country strengthened relations with neighboring Algeria, Mauritania and Senegal, including through tight border controls. In 1997, together with Libya, Mali initiated the unification of Sahel states. Mali has also sought closer contact with the Mano River Union in the south, and its member states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.