6 Fun Facts About Mali for Friday

By Merritt Frey, Executive Director

As the Director of Mali Rising, I get a lot of questions about Mali from curious friends and supporters. So I'm always on the lookout for fun facts about this great country that has become my second home. On this pre-holiday Friday, I thought I'd share six of the facts I most often trot out when asked about Mali (outside of the serious facts about our important work on education!):


1) People always wonder about the basis of Mali's economy. Mali's largest export is gold and cotton comes in second place. Together, gold and cotton make up the vast majority of Mali's exports. Learn more.

2) Mali is a very poor country, but everything about life there isn't all terrible. It is hard to capture the spirit of a country in factoids, but I've found some numbers can be enlightening. For example, if you lived in Mali you'd make 97.92% less money and be 4.1 times more likely to be unemployed than if you lived in the U.S. However, you'd be 95.42% less likely to be in prison and you'd experience 10.89% less of a class divide. Learn more.

3) Much of the charismatic wildlife of Mali is gone, but some remnants remain. For example, Mali is home to the northernmost herd of elephants in Africa. They are extremely threatened. Learn more.

4) Mali's simple flag is made up of green, gold, and red vertical stripes. The green represents the fertility of the land, the gold represents purity but also the mineral wealth of the land, and the red represents the blood spilled during the fight for independence from the French.

5) The richest man ever in the history of the world was from Mali. Mana Musa I was worth $400 billion dollars (when adjusted for inflation to today's dollars). Learn more.

6) Mali is home to many beautiful fabrics. I have to be careful who I tell this fact to because I end up with a lot of fabric orders on my trips! One of the most famous locally made fabrics is known as mud cloth or bogolanfini. Learn more here and even make your own virtual mud cloth!