Mali is a large landlocked country in West Africa with a population of almost 15 million. The north of the country is part of the Sahara desert and most of the population live in the south around the Niger and Senegal rivers. It, therefore, has Saharan and sub-Saharan zones. Ninety percept of the population are Moslems. Like much of West Africa, Mali was seized by France in the late 19th century as part of the scramble for Africa and did not achieve independence until 1960. Life expectancy is 49. Most of the population live below the poverty line. Mali is overwhelmingly agricultural. Cotton is the main cash crop which is exported to the west via Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire. Gold is mined in the south of the country.

Since January 2012 a rebel force of Jihad groups has advanced rapidly to control the whole of the north of the country and recently moved to threaten the capital Bamako.

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Mali Briefing