Mali Travel Information

Photo The Sudanese Republic and Senegal became independent of France in 1960 as the Mali Federation. When Senegal withdrew after only a few months, the Sudanese Republic was renamed Mali. Rule by dictatorship was brought to a close in 1991 with a transitional government, and in 1992 when Mali's first democratic presidential election was held. Since his reelection in 1997, President KONARE has continued to push through political and economic reforms and to fight corruption. In 1999 he indicated he would not run for a third term. Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with 65% of its land area desert or semi desert. Economic activity is largely confined to the riverine area irrigated by the Niger. About 10% of the population is nomadic and some 80% of the labor force is engaged in farming and fishing. Industrial activity is concentrated on processing farm commodities. Mali is heavily dependent on foreign aid and vulnerable to fluctuations in world prices for cotton, its main export. In 1997, the government continued its successful implementation of an IMF-recommended structural adjustment program that is helping the economy grow, diversify, and attract foreign investment. Mali's adherence to economic reform, and the 50% devaluation of the African franc in January 1994, has pushed up economic growth. Several multinational corporations increased gold mining operations in 1996-98, and the government anticipates that Mali will become a major Sub-Saharan gold exporter in the next few years. Annual growth should remain in the 5-6% range in 2000-01, and inflation should drop under 3%.
With the encouragement of the major donors and international financial institutions, the Government of Mali initiated a series of adjustment and stabilization programs beginning in 1982. Measures were introduced to reduce budgetary deficits, public enterprise operating losses, and public sector arrears. Substantial progress was made in the first few years of the adjustment program but has slowed in recent years.
Photography is no longer restricted, except for military subjects. However, interpretation of what may be considered off limits varies. Other subjects may be considered sensitive from a cultural or religious viewpoint. It is helpful to obtain permission before taking photographs in Mali.
Currency exchange facilities are slow and often involve out-of-date rates. Credit cards are accepted only at major hotels, a few travel agencies, and selected restaurants. Cash advances on credit cards are performed by only one bank in Mali, the BMCD Bank in Bamako, and only on a "VISA" credit card. Mali is signatory to the Treaty on Cultural Property that restricts exportation of certain Malian archeological objects, in particular those from the Niger River Valley. Visitors seeking to export any such property are required by Malian law to obtain an export authorization from the National Museum in Bamako. During the hot season (March-June), certain areas, particularly the capital, can experience extended power outages due to low water levels.

Important: Travel to Mali may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Mali visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Republic of Mali
Capital city: Bamako
Area: 1,240,192 sq km
Population: 15,494,466
Ethnic groups: Mande 50%
Languages: French
Religions: Muslim 90%, Christian 1%, indigenous beliefs 9%
Government: republic
Chief of State: Interim] President Dioncounda TRAORE
Head of Government: Interim] Prime Minister Django CISSOKO
GDP: 17.88 billion
GDP per captia: 1,100
Annual growth rate: 2.7%
Inflation: 2.9%
Agriculture: cotton, millet, rice, corn, vegetables, peanuts
Major industries: food processing
Natural resources: gold, phosphates, kaolin, salt, limestone, uranium, gypsum, granite, hydropower
Location: interior Western Africa, southwest of Algeria, north of Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso, west of Niger
Trade Partners - exports: China 31%, South Korea 14.5%, Indonesia 12.2%, Thailand 6.3%, Malaysia 5.4%, Bangladesh 5%
Trade Partners - imports: Senegal 14.9%, France 11.6%, China 8.2%, Cote d'Ivoire 6.3%