Mali Population

Population Distribution

As of 2023, the latest population of Mali is 19,553,397, based on our calculation of the current data from UN (United Nations).

Total population 19,553,397
Population growth rate 2.95%
Birth rate 43.90 births per 1,000 people
Life expectancy
Overall 54.55 years
Men 52.75 years
Women 56.41 years
Age structure
0-14 years 48.03%
15-64 years 48.95%
65 years and above 3.02%
Median age 16.10 years
Gender ratio (Male to Female) 0.95
Population density 15.77 residents per km²
Urbanization 32.30%
37% Bambara, 14% Fulbe (Peul), 9% Senufo, 9% Soninké, 8% Dogon, 7% Songhai, 7% Malinké, 3% Diola, 2% Bobo and Oulé, 2% Tuareg and others
Muslims 90%, indigenous religions 9%, Christians 1%
Human Development Index (HDI) 0.427
HDI ranking 184th out of 194

People in Mali

More than 18 million people live in Mali. The population is growing rapidly, namely by 2.9 percent annually. Mali is one of the fastest growing countries in the world.

Most of the people in Mali live in the south of the country. It’s also hot and dry here, but not quite as bad as in the desert, which covers two thirds of Mali, the entire north.

Since the borders of the countries in West Africa were drawn by the Europeans during colonization, peoples live in what is now Mali who were separated by the border drawing. So peoples live across borders. It is true that someone who is born in Mali is a Malian – but one sees belonging to his people rather than to his state. This is also typical for all of West Africa.

Which peoples now live in Mali? A majority are the Bambara with 35 percent of the population. The Malinke (5 percent), the descendants of the old Mali Empire, and Dioula (2 percent) belong to the same language group (Mande). These peoples live in the southwest triangle of Mali.

Other peoples are the Fulbe (10 percent), Senufo (9 percent), Soninke (8 percent), Songhai (7 percent), Tuareg (6 percent), Dogon (5 percent) and Moors (3 percent). Other small peoples are only represented with two or one percent share of the total population.

Children in Mali

Every woman in Mali has an average of 5.9 children. This is very much. With us, each woman has an average of only 1.4 children. Children and young people in Mali make up a large proportion of the population. Almost half of the population is under 14 years old!

Infant mortality is 3.3 percent, child mortality 6.2 percent (in Germany: 0.2 and 0.3 percent). That means: more than three out of 100 newborn children die, more than six out of 100 do not celebrate their first birthday. The numbers have been going down over the past few decades, but they’re still too high.

Urban and countryside

42 out of 100 people in Mali live in cities, 58 out of 100 in rural areas. About 5 percent of Malians are nomads. They belong to the Tuareg people and live in the desert.

Languages in Mali

35 languages ​​are spoken in Mali. They can be assigned to three larger language families. Bambara has the most speakers. You communicate with it, it is the “lingua franca” and is also spoken by many people who do not themselves belong to the Bambara people. Four million people in Mali have Bambara as their mother tongue, and another five million can speak it.

Bambara can be written in Latin letters (like our script), which is then supplemented by a few letters. This is also called the Africa alphabet. You can also write Bambara in the N’Ko script. This typeface was invented in 1949. You read and write them from right to left.

The second most important language is Sonufo with two million speakers. Songhai and Fulfulde each speak about 1.5 million people, Maninka 1.2 million.

In the north of the country, the Tuareg live in the desert. They speak the Tuareg language Tamascheq and also often speak Arabic. The Tuareg language is written in a special script. It’s called the Tifinagh script. The letters are geometric signs that look like a circle or a plus sign, for example. It looks like this, for example: ⴻⵍⵎⴻⵖⵔⵉⴱ.

French is the official language in Mali – a legacy of French colonial rule – but only a few people speak it as their mother tongue. It is mainly written language in important documents. In school, however, French is taught from elementary school.

Religions in Mali

Most Malians profess Islam. It is estimated that between 85 and 90 percent of the population is Muslim. 1 to 5 percent are Christians, namely Catholics. These mainly belong to the Dogon and Bobo peoples.

Both Muslims and Christians, as well as the rest of the Malians who do not adhere to any of the major religions, sometimes maintain customs of their old traditional religion. They believe in spirits and magic and practice ancestral cult.

Mali Overview

Mali, located in West Africa, is renowned for its rich history, ancient civilizations, and vibrant cultural heritage. Its capital city, Bamako, is a bustling metropolis known for its lively markets, traditional music scene, and vibrant street life. Mali is famous for its UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the ancient city of Timbuktu, known as the “City of 333 Saints,” and the historic mosques of Djenné, showcasing exquisite mud-brick architecture. The country’s diverse landscapes encompass the arid Sahara Desert in the north, the lush Niger River Delta in the south, and the stunning Bandiagara Escarpment, home to the Dogon people and their unique cliff dwellings.

  • Capital City: Bamako
  • Population: Approximately 20.2 million
  • Area: 1,240,192 square kilometers
  • Full Country Name: Republic of Mali
  • Currency: West African CFA Franc (XOF)
  • Language: French
  • ISO Country Codes: ML, MLI

Bordering Countries of Mali

Mali is bordered by seven countries: Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, and Mauritania. To the north of Mali lies Algeria, a country known for its stunning desert landscapes and ancient ruins. Algeria is also home to the Atlas Mountains which offer breathtaking views of the Sahara Desert. To the east of Mali lies Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa that is known for its diverse wildlife and national parks. Burkina Faso lies to the southeast of Mali and is known for its vibrant culture and friendly people.

Cote d’Ivoire lies to the south of Mali and is known for its wonderful beaches and beautiful rainforests. Guinea is located to the southwest of Mali and has a rich history with influences from both French colonialism as well as indigenous African cultures. Senegal lies to the west of Mali and offers visitors some stunning beaches as well as many cultural attractions such as historic sites and museums. Finally, Mauritania is located to the northwest of Mali and has an array of different landscapes ranging from desert oases to wetlands.

Overall, Mali borders seven countries that offer something unique for travelers looking to explore West Africa’s diversity further than just Mali itself. From Algeria’s ancient ruins or Niger’s diverse wildlife – there are plenty opportunities for exploration in these bordering countries. Whether it’s Cote d’Ivoire’s beaches or Guinea’s colonial heritage – there are plenty of ways to experience this part of Africa.


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