Mali is a landlocked country in the interior of West Africa. It is about the size of Texas and California combined and has a population of 22 million. The capital city, Bamako, is home to 20% of these people.
At one time Mali was a rich trading hub. Mansa Musa, Mali’s ruler in the 14th century, is considered to be the richest person in all of history with a worth in today’s dollars of $400 billion. In his lifetime, Mali’s gold deposits accounted for half the world’s supply.
Sadly, this is no longer the case. Roughly 10% of children will not survive to age five. Of those that do, one in three will be malnourished. 67% of the country’s land is desert or semi-desert.
Islam in Mali tends to be more moderate and uniquely West African. The majority practice a faith that is a mixture of traditional African religions and superstitious folk practices.
In Bamako, more than 3,000 Qur’anic schools teach nearly 40% of the children.