Socio-geographical Conditions in Mali

By | March 15, 2021

Population and settlement patterns

The recent population development in Mali is characterized by rapid population growth. The country’s population was 20.2 million in 2019, whereas the population in 1998 was only 9.8 million. For 2018, the annual population growth was put at 3.1% (period 2010 to 2015: 3.0%). According to estimates by the 2014 Human Development Report, the population will rise to 26.0 million by 2030, which is undoubtedly a major challenge for the Malian government’s development policy. The age pyramid of the population shows very clearly that younger age groups dominate.

Despite rapid and often unguided urbanization, the majority of the population lives in rural areas. In the period from 1976 to 2018, the share of the urban population in the total population almost tripled from 16% to 42%, with the vast majority of the urban population living in difficult housing conditions. The largest city is Bamako. PopulationData estimates that lived in the greater Bamako area in 20174.3 million residents. Bamako’s population increased by 4.5% annually between 1998 and 2015. For 2017, population growth was estimated at 5.5%, making Bamako one of the fastest growing cities in Africa. Sikasso (345,000 residents), Koutiala (217,000 residents), Mopti (206,000 residents), Kayes (185,000 residents), Ségou (156,000 residents) and Niono (148,000 residents) followed by a long way as larger cities (estimates for 2017, source:

With regard to the population distribution, a pronounced concentration of the population can be seen in the climatically favored southern third of the country, where the largest cities are also located. In the three northern administrative regions, which are largely covered by deserts and make up two thirds of the country’s area, only about 10% of the population live. The concentration of the population in the southern part of the country has increased continuously over the past four decades, particularly as a result of repeated periods of drought and massive migration movements. According to franciscogardening, Mali is a country located in Western Africa.

The capital Bamako

The name of the capital Bamako is due to the city’s location on Niger, which was once rich in crocodiles: Bamako means “crocodile pond” in the Bambara language. Bamako is located in the southwest of the country and is easily accessible from the neighboring countries of Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast. It is not far to Guinea, Senegal and Mauritania, but the condition of the roads leading to these neighboring countries is sometimes very poor.

Bamako is located at the foot of the presidential hill “Koulouba”. The Niger divides the city into a north and south part, with extensive new districts emerging in the last 15 years, particularly on the south bank of the Niger. In the rainy season, the area around Bamako, which is characterized by fields, savannahs and forests, is dominated by lush green, which, however, quickly gives way to a multitude of yellow and brown tones with the onset of the dry season.

Street scene in Bamako Mali

Street scene in Bamako Mali

The Niger, the longest river in West Africa, is Mali’s lifeline. The Malian capital Bamako lies on its banks, and much of it looks like a small town. Especially outside of the city center, dusty streets and simply built houses dominate the cityscape. However, there are also residential areas with lots of green, as well as numerous new administrative and commercial buildings. The ongoing construction boom in Bamako has created a lucrative market for sand and gravel, with mining being concentrated on the Niger banks on the outskirts. However, the extraction of sand and gravel is increasingly threatening the Niger ecosystem and infrastructure.

In many places in Bamako there is significant construction activity. In 2011, for example, a new government district built with Libyan funding was opened. In the same year, another large business center was inaugurated in the city center. In September 2017 the foundation stone was laid for the reconstruction of the Marché Rose in the city center, which burned down in 2014.

In 2011 the third Niger Bridge was opened to traffic in Bamako. The structure financed by the PR China is called “Bridge of Sino-Malian Friendship”. It was hoped that the implementation of this by far most important urban transport project and the further expansion of the inner-city road network would result in a significant improvement in the traffic situation in Bamako. A year earlier, a modern traffic junction was inaugurated in the city center. In addition, work is being carried out on a comprehensive redesign of the banks of the Niger. A planned fourth Niger bridgeis intended to improve the traffic situation in the western parts of the city. Another Niger bridge is under construction in the greater Bamako area near Koulikoro (60 km north of Bamako).

A feasibility study was carried out for the planned installation of a tram in Bamako. However, critics doubt the sense of the tram project.

By expanding the drinking water supply, attempts are being made to meet the increasing water needs of the rapidly growing population of Bamako.

Comprehensive information on urban development and spatial planning concepts for the greater Bamako area can be found in the conference report Bamako 2030.