According to Paradisdachat, Mali is a state (1,240,142 km 2 with 6,035,272 residents in 1976; cap. Bamako) of West Africa, independent since 1960. Mali, which was formerly part of French Sudan, after having been governed for the first time eight years postcolonial from the Modibo Keita regime, it is currently governed by a National Liberation Committee entirely composed of military personnel who overthrew the government of Mali Keita on November 19, 1968. According to the provisions of the Constitution, approved on June 2, 1974, the Committee reserved the right to set free elections in 1979. The national territory was divided into 6 regions. The average density is 4.9 residents per km 2; however, this value is not very indicative, since the population is very irregularly distributed within the country. The northern regions, included in the Sahara desert area, are almost completely depopulated; four fifths of the residents are thus concentrated in the southern regions: in particular in the west, along the upper reaches of Senegal, and in the east, in the middle Niger valley, where the soils are rather fertile and communications are facilitated by the availability of river routes, the use of which is however limited to small boats during the rainy season.
The ethnographic picture in 1973 was made up as follows: 1,700,000 Bambara, 480,000 Fulbe, 260,000 Songhai, 340,000 Sénufo, 340,000 Mossi and 470,000 Sarakole, all of the Sudanese tribe stock. Foreign communities are heavily downsized (about 7,500 Europeans currently live in Mali), which, on the other hand, appeared quite substantial at the time of French domination. A notable linguistic fragmentation appears as a corollary of ethnic complexity; while the French language remains the official one, the Mandé dialects appear very widespread, among which the most common is Bambaro, spoken above all by itinerant traders (the so-called dioula). The Muslim religion, in continuous expansion, is professed by the majority of the population (about 76%); there are still 20% of animists, while the Catholic and Protestant communities, for their part, group together just 2-3% of followers. Mali, like other African landlocked countries, does not have a real urban network, as its residents are almost entirely dedicated (over 90%) to rural activities (agriculture and pastoralism). and they live in modest villages. The few cities are therefore more important for their ancient historical and commercial traditions than for the number of residents. Bamako, the capital, with its 240,000 residents in 1973 it is the most populated: it carries out a commercial function, thanks to its nodal position along the Dakar-Niger railway; Kayes (37,000 residents), Mopti (43,000 residents), Ségou (40,000 residents), Sikasso (29,000 residents)) for their part play a role of primary importance in trade along the North-South trade route, that is, between the Sahara and the countries of the Gulf of Guinea. Tombouctou (12,000 residents) Deserves a separate mention, which was in the past a famous caravan center and an important slave market. In front of these localities, which have seen their demographic consistency grow since the independence date, there are a series of tiny villages, especially in the central regions, which suffer a persistent demographic decrease due to the limited resources available; the migratory currents annually bring about 25-30,000 people to abandon less favored lands to seek means of subsistence in the plantations of the Ivory Coast or Ghana.
The economic life of Mali is strongly conditioned by its geographical position, which deprives it of easy and profitable contacts. Its poverty, in addition to depending on the almost complete non-existence of underground resources and energy sources, is linked to the fact that even today only 20% of the surface is arable; in particular, the arable land occupies just 9% of the territory. Cotton (370,000 q of seeds and 240,000 q of fiber in 1975), millet (7,000,000 q), peanuts (1,200,000 q), rice (900,000 q) are grown. Overall, agriculture is conducted with archaic techniques and almost all of its products are destined for internal consumption. The forests are not very extensive (3.6% of the territory); wood and gum arabic are obtained from it, which is exported. The area occupied by pastures is consistent (24% of the territory): cattle (3.9 million heads in 1975), sheep (4 million heads) and goats (3.8 million), dromedaries (160,000 heads) are raised. About 25% of the livestock raised is exported to neighboring countries. Fishing, an activity with ancient traditions, is practiced along the Niger river and in the numerous lakes: the major fishing centers are Ségou and Gao, where over 90% of the fish caught flow (100,000 t in 1975); a quarter of the fish products are exported, after being smoked or dried, to finished countries. the major fishing centers are Ségou and Gao, where over 90% of the fish caught converge (100,000 t in 1975); a quarter of the fish products are exported, after being smoked or dried, to finished countries. the major fishing centers are Ségou and Gao, where over 90% of the fish caught converge (100,000 t in 1975); a quarter of the fish products are exported, after being smoked or dried, to finished countries.
In Mali there is no industrial structure, although particular attention has been paid to the sector since 1964, when a specific development plan was drawn up: currently the few initiatives are all connected to livestock breeding and fishing.