Very rich in culture, beauty and history, Mali gives you a look into the more cultural side of Africa. Here you will discover that Africa is not just safari, deserts and savannah, but that they also have a unique history. Mali is not very open for tourism, however, there is very much to see should anyone be given the chance to go there. It is truly a cultural immersion as the people here are still quite traditional and continue several of their cultural practices. In Mali you discover more about African drumming, ancient African civilizations and the ways that people had lived in the days of old with their houses on cliffs.
Important and Interesting Facts About Mali
- Mali is the biggest country in West Africa. It is roughly twice the size of Texas, the second largest American state.
- Mali was the cradle of the Empire of Ghana, West Africa’s very first black empire.
- Djenne– enjoy an amazing weekly market here in the shadows of the biggest man-made mud structure in the world, the spectacular Grand Mosque of Djenne.
- The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country, and is located in Western Africa. It shares its borders with Algeria to the north, Niger to the east, Burkina Faso and the Cote d’Ivoire to the south, Guinea to the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania to the west.
- Mali is the 24th largest country in the world.
- Rock paintings found in the region of Gao and Timbuktu suggest that the region of Mali was inhabited even around 50,000 BC.
- Timbuktu was an important centre of Islamic learning and trade during medieval times. Some buildings remain from its hay day, and it’s still an important stop for salt caravans.
- Bandiagara Cliffs– a beautiful area to hike through, with soaring cliffs and the fascinating culture of the Dogon people who live in this region.
- Bamako– Mali’s capital city lies on the banks of the Niger River and is a wonderful place to explore local markets and live music.
- Mopti– a river town with no equal, Mopti is a bustling harbor, market place, and a wonderful spot to take off on a river adventure in a pinasse.
Cool, Fun, and Funny Facts About Mali
- The prime meridian marker is located in Gao, Mali, where one can literally stand on the edge of two hemispheres.
- Salt was such a valuable commodity that people would trade a pound of gold for a pound of salt. Mali is famous for its salt mines.
- Definitely the most idiosyncratic of the four, senenkunya is a system of joking relations that cuts across distinctions of ethnicity, caste, and clan. When two strangers in Mali meet, the first thing they do is ask each others’ jaamu or clan name, the second thing they will do is ritually insult one another. They will belittle each others’ intelligence, ancestry, and diet, often accusing each other of flatulence. And then they will get along like old friends.
- The Grand Mosque in the Malian city of Djenné, described as “the largest adobe [clay] building in the world”, was first raised in 1204 AD. It was built on a square plan where each side is 56 metres in length. It has three large towers on one side, each with projecting wooden buttresses.
- In the Malian city of Gao stands the Mausoleum of Askia the Great, a weird sixteenth century edifice that resembles a step pyramid.
- The bearded barbet is an African barbet that occurs in Mali. Barbets and toucans are a group of near passerine birds with a worldwide tropical distribution. The barbets get their name from the bristles which fringe their heavy bills.
- The Mali Firefinch is a bird endemic to Mali. Male has crown brownish-grey, mantle and back grey-brown, rump and uppertail-coverts red, tail black, outer margins of rectrices red. Male distance contact call a prolonged plaintive whistle, “feeu”, descending from 5 kHz.
- Amphibians known exclusively from Mali include the Mali Screeching Frog and the Bata Marsh Toad.
- Gilletiodendron glandulosum is a species of legume in the Fabaceae family. It is found only in Mali.
- The elephant fish Mormyrops oudoti is a freshwater fish only known to Mali.
Historical and Cultural Facts About Mali
- When Mansa Musa, emperor of the Malian Empire in the early 1300s, made his Mecca pilgrimage, he made Mali famous by bringing with him 12,000 slaves, 60,000 men, 80 camels that each carried between 50 and 30 pounds of gold, and building a mosque every Friday during his journey.
- The bogolanfini cloth, which is made from handcrafted cloth dyed with mud, is produced only in this part of Africa.
- The circumcision of a child is a cause for public celebration in Bamako, Mali.
- The three great empires to have risen in Mali are the Empire of Ghana, the Empire of Mali and the Songhaï Empire. Mali was named after the Empire of Mali.
- The culture of Mali is a mix of the cultures of the nomadic Tuareg people and Fishing people of the Bozo tribe.
- Sundiata, the Lion King (also called the Lion Prince), was the founder of the Mali Empire and ruled it for 25 years, from about 1235 to 1260.
- The Dogon people of central Mali have more than 75 different ritual masks. Their most important masked festival, known as the Sigul, happens every 60 years (the next is due to start in 2027). It symbolises the period between the death of the first ancestor and the moment humans began to speak. It can last years, processing from village to village.
- The Malian national drink is sweet tea, served three times from the same pot. The first cup is fort comme le mort (“strong as death”), the second doux comme la vie (“mild as life”) and the third sucré comme l’amour (“sweet as love”). A fourth cup means you are no longer welcome.
- In the past, Mali was one of the richest countries, home to great emperors whose wealth came mainly from the region’s position in the cross-Sahara trade routes between West Africa and the north.