Saturday, 17 August 2013


MALI Mali /ˈmɑːli/, officially the Republic of Mali (french: République du Mali, French pronunciation: [maˈli]), is a landlocked country in West Africa. Mali is bordered by Algeria to the north, Niger to the east, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire to the south, Guinea to the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania to the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) with a population of 14.5 million. Its capital is Bamako. Mali consists of eight regions and its borders on the north reach deep into the middle of the Sahara, while the country's southern part, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Sénégal rivers. The country's economic structure centers on agriculture and fishing. Some of Mali's prominent natural resources include gold, being the third largest producer of gold in the African continent, and salt. About half the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day. Present-day Mali was once part of three West African empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade: the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire (for which Mali is named), and the Songhai Empire. During its golden age, there was a flourishing of mathematics, astronomy, literature, and art. At its peak in 1300, Mali covered an area about twice the size of modern-day France, and stretched to the west coast of Africa. In the late 19th century, during the Scramble for Africa, france seized control of Mali, making it a part of french Sudan. french Sudan (then known as the Sudanese Republic) joined with Senegal in 1959, achieving independence in 1960 as the Mali Federation. Shortly thereafter, following Senegal's withdrawal from the federation, the Sudanese Republic declared itself the independent Republic of Mali. After a long period of one-party rule, a 1991 coup led to the writing of a new constitution and the establishment of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state. In January 2012, an armed conflict broke out in northern Mali, which Tuareg rebels took control by April and declared the secession of a new state, Azawad. The conflict was complicated by a military coup that took place in March and later fighting between Tuareg and Islamist rebels. In response to Islamist territorial gains, the french military launched Opération Serval in January 2013. A month later, Malian and french forces recaptured most of the north. Presidential elections have been scheduled for 7 July and legislative elections for 21 July. The People: The major peoples in size order are Bambara 31.4%, Fula Macina 9.6%, Soninke 7.4%, Sanghai 6.3%, Dogon 5% The largest tribe is the Bambara, who occupy many of the civil servant positions. It is the Dogons and the Tuareg who practice a more traditional way of life. Dogon People The Dogon are an ethnic group located mainly in the administrative districts of Bandiagara and Douentza. Within these regions the Dogon population is most heavily concentrated along a 200 kilometer (125 mile) stretch of escarpment called the Cliffs of Bandiagara near Timbuktu, South of the Sahara Desert in West Africa. The cliffs provide a spectacular physical setting for Dogon villages built on the sides of the escarpment. There are approximately 700 Dogon villages. The Dogons are incredibly industrious farmers, their homeland, the Pays Dogon, has been designated a World Heritage site because of its cultural significance. The Dogon are also famous for their artistic designs in woodcarvings and elaborate masks. Their dances include over 80 varieties of masks, each depending on the type of celebration. Fulani Tribe The Fulani of Mali are also known as the Fulfulde or Peul. Most estimates of their number in Mali range between 850,000 to 1,000,000 people. The majority of the Fulani are from a sub-group known as the Futa Jalon. The Fulani people comprise the largest nomadic society in the world covering at least six nations in West Africa. Fourteen million Fulani are spread throughout Northwest and Central Africa. The major concentration of Mali's Fulani population is located within a 150 kilometer radius of the city of Mopti. Most urban Fulani tend to be sedentary, commercial people, whereas the rural Fulani tend to be migratory herdsmen. Tuareg Tribe The Tuareg, or 'blue men of the desert' (named for their indigo robes and turbans) are an ancient nomadic tribe still eking out a desert existence. They are a proud race of people, famous for their fighting abilities and artwork, now staring urbanisation and resettlement in the face. Drought and government policy are threatening their traditional way of life but Tuaregs and their camel-caravans still appear unexpectedly on the horizon before melting into the desert again. Bambara (Bambara: Bamanankan), a Manding language (in the Mande family) is said to be spoken by 80% of the population as a first or second language. It is spoken mainly in central and Southern Mali. Bambara and two other very closely related Manding languages Malinke or Maninkakan in the southwest and Kassonke (in the region of Kayes in the west), are among the 13 national languages. Bambara is used as a trade language in Mali between language groups. (Bambara is also very close to the Dyula language (Dyula: Jula or Julakan; French: Dioula), spoken mainly in Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. The name "Jula" is actually a Manding word meaning "trader.") Other Mande languages (not in the Manding group) include Soninke (in the region of Kayes in western Mali), Dogon languages (of Pays Dogon or Dogon country in central Mali), the Bozo languages (along the middle Niger). Other languages include Senufo in the Sikasso region (south), Fula (Fula: Fulfulde; French: Peul) as a widespread trade language in the Mopti region and beyond, the Songhay languages along the Niger, Tamasheq in the eastern part of Mali's Sahara and Arabic in its western part. Thirteen of the most widely spoken indigenous languages are considered "national languages." Most formal education for the deaf in Mali uses American Sign Language, introduced to West Africa by the deaf American missionary Andrew Foster. There are two other sign languages in Mali. One, Tebul Sign Language, is found in a village with a high incidence of congenital deafness. Another, Bamako Sign Language, developed in the after-work tea circles of the cities; it is threatened by the educational use of ASL. Most of the languages of Mali are part of the Mande language family, which is generally accepted as part of Niger–Congo, Africa's largest phylum. Other languages include the Dogon languages, perhaps another Niger–Congo branch, and the Senufo languages, which are unquestionably part of that family. Mande, Senufo, and Dogon stand out among Niger–Congo because of their deviant SOV basic word order. The Gur languages are represented by Bomu on the Bani River of Mali and Burkina Faso. Fulfulde, spoken throughout West Africa, is a member of the Senegambian branch. Other language families include Afro-Asiatic, represented by the Berber language Tamasheq and by Arabic, and the Songhay languages, which have traditionally been classified as Nilo-Saharan but may constitute an independent language family.

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