The Republic of Mali is a vast West African country. Its population is about 13 million, more of 90% live in the south of the country. More than 65% of the land is desert or semidesert. Mali is ranked number 178 of the Human Development Index (out of 182), updated in 2009 by the United Nations Development Program. The Gross National Income per capita is $ 1090 (2008). To give a comparison, the UK 's GNI per capita is $ 36,130. Economic activity is concentrated around the borders of the Niger river. The population is mainly rural, less than 10% are nomadic. The three major products exported are cotton, gold and livestock. Cotton, also called the “white gold” is the largest crop exported. Mali is the first African exporter. But the Malian cotton is theatened by subsidized European and American crops, and to fluctuations in world prices. Mali produces rice, millet, corn, vegetables, tobacco and tree crops as well. The official language is French, but more than 40 local languages are also spoken as Bambara, Bozo, Dogon or Fula. About 90% of Mali population is Muslim, 5% are Christian and 5% follow traditional animist beliefs.Malian music influences come from the griots, who are West African poets, praise singers, and travelling musicians.They are known as “keeper of memories” because of their role to pass down oral tradition. The kora is by far the most popular traditional instrument. It is similar to both a harp and a lute. Some famous Malian musicians are Ali Farka Touré, Salif Keita, or Amadou & Mariam.
To find out more about Mali: