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Mali Information - Page 1
Geography
The Republic of Mali is in West Africa. Mali is surrounded by Algeria, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal.

The capital city of Mali is Bamako. The second largest town is Segou between Bamako and Mopti, a port on the River Niger where it joins the Bani River. There are a number of important towns along the Niger, which is vital for transportation, food and water supply. Other well-known cities are Djenne near Mopti and the legendary Timbuktu.

The terrain is mostly flat plain land with the Sahara Desert in the north. Mali is one of the countries of the Sahel - the region where the desert and the savannah meet.

The climate is mainly hot all year ranging from subtropical to arid.

Environment
In the desert and the Sahel plants and animals have adapted to survive with very little water. Plants have deep roots which search out what little water there is and many animals lead nocturnal lives going out at night in search of food and moisture then sleeping in the shade during the day, avoiding the worst of the heat.

Trees such as mimosas, gum trees and acacias can be found throughout the Sahara region. In the oases date palms flourish because of the availability of water; the large baobab tree survives in the Sahel region to the south of the Sahara.

Desert creatures include gazelles, desert foxes, sandfish, gerbils and scorpions. Other animals found in Mali are antelopes, giraffes, cheetahs, leopards, lions, baboons, and hippopotamuses which can be seen along the River Niger.

There is a variety of birdlife in Mali and its Sahara regions: eagles, vultures, teals, ostriches, sandpipers and woodcocks. Along the rivers different species flourish: ibis, pelicans, herons, kingfishers and ducks.

The countries of the Sahel region are at risk from the increasing encroachment of the desert. Desertification is a result of environmental problems such as deforestation and soil erosion. Another important environmental issue for the people of Mali is the shortage of safe drinking water.

Architecture
Living accommodation in Mali ranges from modern buildings to mud huts and nomadic tents.

Mud brick is the traditional building material in this part of the world. In Djenne, on the old trans-Saharan route, there are mud-brick buildings and an ancient mud-brick mosque. The mosque has wooden staves for builders to climb and apply more layers of mud when repairs are needed.

The Dogon people are famous for having built houses in the shelter of the Bandiagara escarpment which is to the east of Mopti. The Tellem people, unrelated to the Dogon, inhabited the Escarpment before the arrival of the Dogon.

Population
The population of Mali was estimated at 12,324,030 in 2008; it is made up of many different peoples. In the north and on the border of the Sahara nomads such as the Tuareg and Moors are found. The Malian population is mainly African: the Mande (Bambara, Malinke, Sarakole) account for around half of the people; others are Peul, Voltaic and Songhai. A large number of the population lives on the banks of the River Niger.

Languages
French is the country's official language. Bambara is the most spoken language. Other African languages and Arabic are also used.

Religion
Islam is Mali's main religion. A few of the people are Christians. Traditional religions are still practised by some of the people of Mali.

Food
The people of Mali live from the land and the river: farming, fishing and rearing livestock.

Staple foods are millet, rice, sweet potatoes, plantains, beans and manioc. Freshwater fish from the River Niger such as Tilapia and salted dried fish are used. Meals include meat kebabs, stews and dishes made from millet. Herbal teas are popular.

Fruit from Baobab trees is used in times of food scarcity to make porridge.

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