MaliCopyright: piccaya 123rf.com

Mali

Capital: Bamako
Currency: West African CFA franc (XOF)
Language: French
Listen to the national anthem

Mansa Musa is probably the most well known Malian ruler. Mansa means "King" in Mali and Musa was crowned as such in 1312, becoming the first Muslim ruler in West Africa. In 1324 it is said that he went on a pilgrimage to Mecca and returned with some 10,000 or more slaves, 60,000 men and around 80 camels each laden with 70 kg of gold. It is also said that on his return journey, each Friday he had a mosque built.

Mali is the 8th biggest country in Africa and is land locked. With a population of just over 15 million, it is believed that half live below the international poverty line of $1.25 per day, despite the country being the 3rd largest producer of gold, it is one of the world's poorest.

Mali was at the centre of the Ghanaian Empire which traded extensively in gold, ivory and salt. The Ghanaian Empire was the first west African black empire.

Djenne is a town of 301 km2 and is home to the largest mud brick structure in the world. The current mosque is a rebuild of the original (see image on card and top of page). The exact date of the original was built is unknown although it is said to be around 1200 AD. The first mention of the mosque however was not until 1828 when the french explorer René Caillié wrote about it. In 1906, the original mosque was demolished by the French as it was derelict and the interior was being used as a cemetery. The mosque took a year to build using forced labour and it is unclear just how much French influence went into the construction.

In 2002, Mali hosted the African Cup of Nations in which Mali finished 3rd. Mali have never won the African Cup and never qualified for the World Cup. Despite these disappointments, football is still Mali's most popular sport.

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