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Mali Travel Guide

Key Facts
Official state name

Republic of Mali.

Area

1,240,192 sq km (478,841 sq miles).

Population

16 million (2013).

Population density

12.9 per sq km.

Capital

Bamako.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from France in 1960.

Head of state

President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita since 2013.

Head of government

Prime Minister Moussa Mara since 2014.

Electricity

220 volts AC, 50Hz. Larger towns in Mali have their own locally generated supply. European-style plugs with two round pins are used.

With its giant mud-built mosques, villages carved into cliff-sides and massive camel caravans traversing the desert, Mali makes for a stunningly surreal destination.

Rapidly developing, particularly in the main cities, tourists can find high standards of accommodation and cuisine on offer. Intriguing and colourful markets, vast desertscapes and ancient tombs and relics are all waiting to be discovered. All of this makes it hard to believe Mali is one of the world's poorest countries.

Once an overseas territory of France, Mali gained independence in 1960, and today it is one of the most politically and socially stable countries in Africa.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 24 April 2015

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.


Crime

There have been incidents of armed banditry, car-jacking and kidnap in northern Mali. Bandits and smugglers are present along Mali’s northern borders and pose a risk to travellers, especially after dark.

The Malian authorities have provided the following numbers in case of emergencies:

  • 80 00 11 14
  • 80 00 11 15
  • 20 22 13 35
  • 20 23 95 15
  • 20 23 95 11

Local travel

Despite the presence of a UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA), the situation in the north remains tense. You should not travel in the north of Mali, including the regions of Gao, Timbuktu, Kidal

Landmines are used by groups operating in North and North East Mali.

Travel in Mali can be difficult and conditions are poor for overland travel. You should take all necessary safety precautions, especially outside of main urban areas, have confidence in your security arrangements and maintain a high level of vigilance.

In the case of an accident, go to the nearest police station to file a report immediately. If you remain on the spot you risk being taken to task, sometimes violently, by the local population. Medical help in the event of an accident is likely to be limited.

Scams

British nationals are increasingly being targeted by scams. Treat with considerable caution any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who operates in West Africa.

Road travel

Night-time checkpoints sometimes operate in Bamako at various locations. Checkpoints are in place from approximately 9pm until dawn.

Keep vehicle and personal identification documents with you at all times while travelling by road. Approach security checkpoints slowly and comply with instructions given. There have been incidents late at night where people dressed as policemen have demanded money from drivers in Bamako. Ask to see identification. Don’t resist if the person is armed.

Road conditions off the main roads are often poor, especially in the rainy season (June to September). Other road users may drive dangerously. You should take particular care and attention when driving in urban centres.

Air travel

A number of European and African commercial airlines operate services to and from Bamako Sénou International Airport.

Political situation

There was a coup in Mali in 2012 and conflict in the north. Following a French-led military intervention, democracy was restored in 2013. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK) and his new government took office in September 2013, following national elections.

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