Overview for Mali
Mali is a landlocked country in the Sahel, bordered by Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea, Senegal, and Mauritania. Mali is a developing nation, and one of the poorest countries in the world. However, it has some incredible sights, including four UNESCO World-Heritage sites. And, of course, there's Timbuktu!. Mali was once part of three famed West African empires which controlled trans-Saharan trade in gold, salt, slaves, and other precious commodities. These Sahelian kingdoms had neither rigid geopolitical boundaries nor rigid ethnic identities. The earliest of these empires was the Ghana Empire which expanded throughout West Africa from the 8th century until 1078.
Best Time to Visit
The country's climate ranges from tropical in the south to arid in the north. Most of the country receives negligible rainfall; droughts are frequent. Late June to early December is the rainy season. During this time, flooding of the Niger River is common, creating the Inner Niger Delta.
Visas are required by all nationals for stays of up to three months, except transit passengers continuing their journey by the same or first connecting aircraft within 24 hours (provided holding onward or return documentation and not leaving the airport). Application is best accomplished at your local Consulate.
Mali is primarly a Muslim country (Muslim 90%, indigenous beliefs 9%, Christian 1%). Although they are used to Western ways, you should try to be respectful. This means:
Women and men should make an effort to cover their legs and arms.
It is regarded as disrespectful to show public affection.
Be discreet when drinking alcohol.
During Ramadan -- the month of fasting -- travelers should avoid eating and drinking during the daytime. Also, be sure not to smoke in front of people, nor chew gum, and it is polite to avoid talking about the nice lunch you had.