Mali is a large country in the Sahel, two-thirds covered by desert areas, which shares borders with seven other countries (Mauritania, Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea and Senegal). The country suffers from many geographical handicaps: landlocked and strongly dependent on climate variations, (drought, locust infestation, desertification and deforestation), inadequate infrastructure and lack of clean water.
Mali's population is estimated at 21 726 000 in 2022, of which 50.4% are women and more than 60% under the age of 25. Three-quarters of Mali’s population lives in a rural environment (63.88%), as compared with 36,22% in an urban environment. The Malian economy is essentially based on agriculture. It employs nearly 75% of the active population. It contributes 40% of GDP and provides nearly 30% of export earnings. Mali is a cross-roads of civilisations with its many ethnic and linguistic groups, each a source of cultural wealth. A secular country by constitution, Mali is characterised by the peaceful coexistence of monotheistic religions and traditional cultures. The religions practised are Islam, Christianity and animism. Mali's population is very young, with half of the population under 15 years of age (45.4% in 2022), resulting in strong pressure for job creation and migration, in a context of deteriorating labour market conditions. Growing urbanisation is encouraging political and administrative decentralisation.
Mali is a country with a long and intense history of internal, African and international migration, a crossroads of civilisations, and a strong tradition of emigration. All the regions in Mali are areas from which emigration takes place. The diaspora of Malians abroad numbers nearly two million people, or 1⁄8th of the population. The main destinations remain African countries with 32% living in Côte d'Ivoire (3.5 million Malians) and around one million in the Economic Community of West African States (340 000 for other West African countries), followed by the European Union (500 000 Malians). The financial contribution per year to the development of the country by the disapora is nearly 602 billion FCFA / year, or 918 million EUR / year. Migration is on such a scale that a Ministry of Malians Abroad has been created in order to recover investments, enriched skills and relations and to supervise the reintegration of nationals returning to Mali.
The Malian economy is based primarily on four sectors: cotton, rice, livestock and gold mining. The country is therefore dependent on world prices for cotton and gold. From the point of view of external financing, the country is heavily dependent on foreign aid and remittances from Malian emigrants are important.
Mali has been going through a period of great instability and conflict since the military coup of 2012 and the occupation of the north by armed groups. The whole of northern Mali fell to the Tuareg rebels of the Mouvement National de Libération de l'Azawad (MNLA) and then to the Islamist group Ansar Dine (Defenders of Islam) and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (Mujao), allies of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) has been active since July 2014.
In August 2020, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, president since 2013 and re-elected in 2018, was overthrown by a military coup, after several weeks of demonstrations. Bah N'Daw became president of the transitional government and a National Transitional Council, acting as the National Assembly, was set up. The transitional government was followed by the resignation of the President and the Prime Minister, which led to the election of Colonel Assimi Goïta as President of the Republic on 24 May 2021. The next elections, legislative and presidential, are scheduled for 29 October 2023 and 4 February 2024 respectively.