Mali is an independent republic which lies between Mauritania to its west and Niger to its east and forms part of the landlocked West African Region. The capital city is Bamako. Other major towns are Segou, Timbuktu and Kayes.
French is the official language of Mali, but the most widely spoken language is Bambara. The local currency is the CFA-franc. (US$ / CFA Franc – current exchange rate).
The mining industry in Mali is its key industry and has recently attracted renewed interest and investment from foreign companies. Its oil industry is another important sub-element in the country’s economy due to its dependence on the importation of all petroleum products from neighbouring states. Gold and phosphate are the only minerals mined in Mali although deposits of copper and diamonds do also exist.
Electricity is provided by the parastatal utility, Electricite du Mali.
Mali produces cotton, cereals and rice. Although locally produced rice now provides competition to imported Asian rice, Mali’s primary export, cotton, is subject to world price fluctuation and Mali remains reliant on foreign aid. Livestock exports and industry (producing vegetable and cottonseed oils, and textiles) have experienced growth. Although most of Mali is desert or semi-desert, the Niger River is a potential irrigation source.
Between 1992 and 1995, Mali implemented an economic adjustment program (recommended by the IMF) which resulted in economic growth and a reduction in financial imbalances. This was reflected in the increased GDP growth rates and decreased inflation.
Structural changes included the restructuring, privatisation and liquidation of several companies and the liberalization of prices. Agricultural measures were aimed at diversifying and expanding production as well as at reducing costs. The program was continued in 1997 and Mali looks forward to continued economic growth. Finance minister, Soumalia Cisse, predicts a 5% growth in 2000 and 2001. However, in contrast to this economic growth, social sectors remained largely unchanged by the reform process (1992-1995) and the government was unable to make significant improvements in access to social services.
The international time zone for Mali is GMT and the international dialling code is +223. The principal airlines which fly to Mali are Air France, Sabena and Iberia and regional airlines from West and north Africa. As at January 1996 all visitors to Mali except French nationals require visas.
Diseases such as cholera, malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, hepatitis A, meningitis, typhoid fever, yellow fever, schistosomiasis (bilharzia) and dengue fever may be contracted while travelling in Mali. Travellers should be aware that advance payment for medical services may be required. Prescription medicines and prescriptions should be carried in their original containers. Vaccinations should be obtained before entering Mali.