Mali celebrates its independence from France on Sep 22 each year – 2014 marks 55 years – with parades, speeches and traditional dance performances. But all is not well in this landlocked West African country, perhaps most famous as the home of Timbuktu, that is one of the world’s poorest countries. Here are 10 things you didn’t know about Mali after the French took over, and finally left.
Sources: BBC News, Al Jazeera, About.com, A Global World
1. French Domination
Mali became a French colony in 1895, although the French conquest of the Islamic empire began back in 1866. During this time it was known as the French Sudan. Post independence it changed its name to Mali.
2. Federation of Mali
Prior to independence Mali and Senegal were part of a Federation of Mali, fighting for independence together in the late 1950s. On June 20th, 1960, France grants full independence to the Federation of Mali, but independence is not celebrated on this day.
On Aug 20, 1960 Senegal leaves the Federation of Mali and on Sep 22, 1960 – the day on which the country currently celebrates its independence – it proclaims itself the Republic of Mali, instilling Mobido Keita, a socialist, as the first president.
4. Post Independence Blues
Following independence, Mali’s people suffered through droughts, rebellions, a coup and then 23 years of military dictatorship.
5. Late 20th-Century Renaissance
Mali flourished after democratic elections were held in 1992. This was a period of relative social stability and rapid economic growth, and for the next two decades the world considered Mali a “model African democracy.”
6. 21st Century Collapse
This age of relative prosperity came to an end in the post 9/11 world. In 2012 the steady collapse of state control in Mali’s north led to French military intervention against Islamist fighters there following a failed military takeover. Although control was turned back over to civilians in 2013, fighting began again this year.
7. Self sufficient
If the northern and southern parts of the country could stop fighting, Mali would be okay. It is self-sufficient when it comes to food thanks to the Niger River Basin. What we found fascinating about Mali, which is barren in large swarths, is the scenery that resembles the American Southwest in parts — like the region pictured above.
8. Poverty reigns
Despite this ability to be sustainable, thanks in a large part to fighting, Mali is considered among the 25 poorest countries in the world and is very dependent on gold mining and agricultural exports like cotton. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-13881370
9. Independence celebrations
Independence Day is a national holiday. Citizens celebrate Independence day with political speeches, parades and traditional dance and patriotic hymn performances.
10. Musical talent
Mali may political issues, but it is still famous for its musical talent with artists like Salif Keita. The country also hosts the hugely popular Festival in the Desert annually.
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