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Mali is a landlocked country situated in West Africa. It has land borders with Algeria in the north and northwest, Niger in the east and south, Burkina Fasso and Ivory Coast in the south, Guinea to the southwest, Senegal to the west and Mauritania to the west and northwest. Originally part of the French Sudan, along with Senegal, Mali gained independence in 1959 and became the Mali Federation. In 1960, the Mali Federation became the nation of Mali. After the usual years of internal strife, nowadays Mali is one of the most politically and socially stable countries in Africa. However, it is also one of the poorest countries in the world.

To many, Mali is the jewel in West Africa’s crown, a destination that has all the right ingredients, containing as it does the legendary city of Timbuktu, the gloriously improbable mosque at Djenné and the bustling river port of Mopti, to name but three. Journeying along the Niger River is one of the continent’s great adventures. Not far from the riverbank, the extraordinary Falaise de Bandiagara rises up from the plains, and shelters one of West Africa’s most intriguing peoples – the Dogon -whose villages and complex cultural rituals still cling to the edge of rocky cliffs – a visit here being an utterly unforgettable experience.

Indeed all of Mali is alive with a fascinating cultural mix of peoples, from the nomadic Tuareg people of the Sahara to the Niger fishing societies of the Bozo. The downside, especially in areas of northern Mali, is the presence of bandits, and the concomitant threat of kidnapping. Hence we can’t really recommend travel here unreservedly.

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