Browse the information below for demographic information on Mali, including population,
religion, nationality and more. If you do not find the Mali information you need on the
people page, check out our complete listing on the Mali Country Page.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Malian(s).
Population (2002 est.): 10.5 million.
Annual growth rate: 2.2%.
Ethnic groups: Manding (Bambara or Bamana, Malinke) 52%, Fulani 11%, SaracolÚ 7%, Mianka 4%, Songhai 7%, Tuareg and Maur 5%, other 14%. Religions: Islam 90%, indigenous 6%, Christian 4%.
Languages: French (official) and Bambara (spoken by about 80% of the population).
Education: Attendance--64.3% (primary). Literacy--31%. Health: Infant mortality rate--121/1,000. Life expectancy--47 yrs.
Work force (4 million): Agriculture--70%; services--15%; industry and commerce--15%.
People of Mali
Mali's population consists of diverse Sub-Saharan ethnic groups, sharing similar historic, cultural, and religious traditions. Exceptions are the Tuaregs and Maurs, desert nomads, related to the North African Berbers. The Tuaregs traditionally have opposed the central government. Starting in June 1990, armed attacks in the North by Tuaregs seeking greater autonomy led to clashes with the military. In April 1992, the government and most opposing factions signed a pact to end the fighting and restore stability in the north. Its major aims are to allow greater autonomy to the north and increase government resource allocation to what has been a traditionally impoverished region. The peace agreement was celebrated in 1996 in Timbuktu during an official and highly publicized ceremony called Flamme de la Paix--peace flame.
Historically, good inter-ethnic relations throughout the rest of the country were facilitated by easy mobility on the Niger River and across the country's vast savannahs. Each ethnic group was traditionally tied to a specific occupation, all working within close proximity. The Bambara, Malinke, and Dogon are farmers; the Fulani, Maur, and Tuareg are herders; the SaracolÚs are traders; while the Bozo are fishers. In recent years, this linkage has shifted as ethnic groups seek diverse, nontraditional sources of income.
Although each ethnic group speaks a separate language, nearly 80% of Malians communicate in Bambara, the common language of the marketplace. Malians enjoy a relative harmony rare in African states.