Mali

Driving Directions Mali

MALI is a landlocked republic in West Africa. Shaped somewhat like a butterfly with one wing more massive than the other, it consists mainly of level plains interrupted by isolated groups of hills and mountains. It rises to 1,155 meters or 3,790 feet in the Adrar des Iforas Mountains in the northeast.

The northern third lies within the Sahara Desert, which is slow­ly encroaching southwards, and life here revolves around the few oases. Southwest of the real desert lies a region of dry grassland called the Sahel, and this gives way to better-watered land surrounding the Rivers Niger and Senegal and their tributaries.

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The Niger flows in a semicircular arc through southern Mali and forms a marshy inland delta for part of its length. Senegal waters the extreme west of Mali, and both rivers provide water for irrigation, valuable agricultural land, a source of fish, and a means of transportation. The Niger, in particular, is especially useful to Mali as it is navigable throughout its entire length for most of the year.

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Natural vegetation varies from dry grassland and thorn bushes to wooded areas in the south. Wildlife includes grazing animals, such as antelope, gazelle, giraffe and warthog, and their attendant large predators, lion, cheetah, and leopard.

Mali has a hot climate and is dry in the north, but in the south, there is enough rain for farming.

Most people live in the south and follow an agricultural or pastoral way of life. Rice, cassava, and millet are grown for domestic consumption and cotton for export. The country’s main exports include cotton, gold, foodstuffs, livestock, and mangoes.

Iron ore and bauxite have been discovered but have yet exploited. Independence gained in 1960, and internal political power struggles, war with Burkina Faso and a damaging period of drought, have been among the problems that the new country has had to face. Mali appears to have entered a phase of more excellent political stability but remains an impoverished land with many issues to overcome.

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