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Saturday, January 14, 2012

COUNTRY #199: Mali

Welcome, country #199:


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The Sudanese Republic and Senegal became independent of France in 1960 as the Mali Federation. When Senegal withdrew after only a few months, what formerly made up the Sudanese Republic was renamed Mali. Rule by dictatorship was brought to a close in 1991 by a military coup - led by the current president Amadou TOURE - enabling Mali's emergence as one of the strongest democracies on the continent. President Alpha KONARE won Mali's first democratic presidential election in 1992 and was reelected in 1997. In keeping with Mali's two-term constitutional limit, KONARE stepped down in 2002 and was succeeded by Amadou TOURE, who was subsequently elected to a second term in 2007. The elections were widely judged to be free and fair.

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Bet you didn't know that Timbuktu (now spelled Tombouctou) is in Mali?    This mysterious city enjoyed a Golden Age half a millennium ago, has a population of 55,000 and a UNESCO World Heritage site, but is today impoverished.  A sister city is Tempe, Arizona.

Mali is one of the most politically and socially stable countries in Africa.  The spoken language is French.  However, the U.S. State Department has a travel advisory suggesting you avoid this country, especially the northern part.  The Washington Post reports, if you like local flavor, visit Mali.  The problem is that this series also touts Zimbabwe, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Mozambique.  

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