1. Mansa Musa, who was king of the Mali Empire from 1280 to 1337, is believed to be one of the wealthiest men ever lived. When Mansa Musa, emperor of the Malian Empire in the early 1300s, made his Mecca pilgrimage, he made Mali famous by bringing with him 12,000 slaves, 60,000 men, 80 camels that each carried between 50 and 30 pounds of gold, and building a mosque every Friday during his journey.
2. Mali’s Great Mosque of Djenné, constructed in 1907, is the world’s largest mud-brick building. Every April, residents of Djenné maintain the walls of the mosque during a one-day festival called Crépissage, also called Plastering, where they reconstruct the walls with mud.
3. According to the World Bank, Mali has the world’s second-highest fertility rate in the world at 5.9 births per woman as in 2019, compared with the global average of 2.4.
4. According to the UK Foreign Office, Mali is one of 17 countries deemed to be entirely unsafe for tourists to visit. It is also among the 10 most dangerous countries in the world according to the International SOS Travel Risk Map. It has been assessed as carrying an ‘extreme travel security risk’.
5. The thermal equator crosses Mali, making it one of the hottest countries in the world. Rainfall is negligible and droughts are frequent. If you visit the town of Gao in Mali, you’ll have the opportunity to see the spot where the prime meridian passes. You can literally stand between the two hemispheres.
6. Mansa Musa left so much gold to the people along his way, he inadvertently caused inflation in the regions he passed. Today, however, Mali is one of the poorest nations in the world. Around 70% of Mali’s population earns less than a dollar per day.
7. For a long time especially while it was a French colony, there’s been an aura of mystique surrounding Mali. Places like Timbuktu, which actually exist in Mali, were considered myths, and Mali is considered “anywhere far away” for many.
8. In Mali, sweet tea is the national drink and the traditional offering for a visitor. You can drink it three times from the same pot, but if you are served a fourth cup it means you’re no longer welcome.
9. Mali is the third highest gold producer in Africa after South Africa and Ghana, a fun fact about Mali. It also exports phosphates, salt, limestone, uranium, and granite. Gold mining, however, is a key source of revenue and also what makes Mali a desirable territory for many conflicting forces.
10. The discovery of rock art in the Sahara Desert suggests that Mali has been inhabited since 10,000 BC when the Sahara was fertile and rich in wildlife making it one of the oldest inhabited places in the world.