Mali Human Geography

The Niger Delta forms a conservation area and today hosts those populations (the bozo fishermen, with Negroid traits) that can be considered as the country’s ethnic substratum. However, they form a numerical minority, while the majority of Malians are Sudanese, within which, however, a considerable variety of groups is recognized. Mali is in fact an area of ​​encounter between real Africa (Sudan) and white Africa; it is therefore a country of ethnic crossroads, which began from the time when the drying up of the Sahara led many of the populations settled in the region to move towards the south, to pursue less difficult environmental conditions.

The mixing continued in the Islamic era, when Niger became the axis of the great trade between black Africa and the Maghreb: the river acted as a trait-d’union between Sudanese lands and trans-Saharan roads. It is the era in which the region crossed by Niger assumes a significant importance in the context of West Africa, becoming the background of civilizations that also expressed a non-ephemeral urbanism, especially under the empire of Mali and Songhai. Numerous towns in Mali still bear the traces of this urbanism which also presupposed a precise territorial organization. Today’s populations are linked to that past and the largest groups are the direct heirs of those who gave birth to the various kingdoms. The numerically most relevant group is that of the Bambara (30.6%), similar to the Malinke (people of the large Mande group, represented in Mali by 6.6% of the residents) and to the marka, heirs of the empire of Mali, traditionally millet farmers. The second group for numerical importance is that of the Fulbe (or Peul or Fulani, 9.6%) who in the century. XVIII founded a kingdom in the delta; they are cattle herders and their herds exploit the vast grasslands that come out in the low season of the river. About 6.3% are the Songhai, heirs of the empire of the same name, Sudanese strongly Berbericized and with costumes in many ways similar to the Tuaregh. In the areas of the Sudanese belt on the border with Burkina and the Ivory Coast there are different populations of farmers, including the mossi and the senufo (10.5%), while the southwestern section is home to soninke (7.4%), farmers but also good traders, strongly Islamized. Instead, they have well preserved the rich heritage of its black origins of culture, the Dogon (4.3%), which populate a mountainous area within the Niger loop. Northern Mali is inhabited by Tuaregh (6.9%) and by Moorish and Arab groups; the other groups are 17.8%. The annual rate of population growth is not conducive to raising the standard of living, and the mortality rate has remained high, especially in the delta, where malaria and other diseases related to the humid environment are frequent. Conditions across the Sahel are difficult, where even drought, with consequent malnutrition, contributes to the spread of diseases. Most of the population is gathered in the south of the country, which is rainier and therefore more suitable for agriculture; many areas of the delta are also populated; the North, on the other hand, is semi-desert. The general average is 10 residents / km², among the lowest in Africa.

According to threergroup, the vast majority of the population lives in villages, whose organization varies considerably from group to group, as well as from area to area: these villages suffer from a chronic demographic decrease due to the scarcity of available resources. In the north and in the Niger delta there are mud huts and a general influence of Islamic ways of life, in the southern Sudanese belt thatched huts and more typically African customs prevail. In the delta there is also the sign of an urban presence, promoted by commercial traffic and craft activities: in many respects the urbanization of the Niger region, with the cities of Mopti, these villages suffer from a chronic demographic decrease due to the scarcity of available resources. In the north and in the Niger delta there are mud huts and a general influence of Islamic ways of life, in the southern Sudanese belt thatched huts and more typically African customs prevail. In the delta there is also the sign of an urban presence, promoted by commercial traffic and craft activities: in many respects the urbanization of the Niger region, with the cities of Mopti, these villages suffer from a chronic demographic decrease due to the scarcity of available resources. In the north and in the Niger delta there are mud huts and a general influence of Islamic ways of life, in the southern Sudanese belt thatched huts and more typically African customs prevail. In the delta there is also the sign of an urban presence, promoted by commercial traffic and craft activities: in many respects the urbanization of the Niger region, with the cities of Mopti, Ségou, Tombouctou, Gao etc., to name the main ones, takes on peculiar and very suggestive characters, although influenced by that of the Maghreb. But these cities are now partially devoid of past justifications, except for Mopti and Ségou in the delta and Gao area, the terminus of one of the most popular trans-Saharan routes. The urbanization that counts today is that of Bamako, the capital, strengthened by the French with the construction of the railway that connects it to Dakar. Already a modest village at the beginning of the twentieth century, in 2005 it exceeded 1,360,000 residents as an urban agglomeration; it is the center of Mali, favored by its position on Niger, and therefore in contact with all parts of the country. Enhanced by the railway itself but also a river port on Senegal, is Kayes, a communications hub with the neighboring country, while in the far south the main center is Sikasso. The urban population, in 2005, was approx. a third of the total.

Mali Country and People