Ivory Coast And Mali

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Ivory Coast, officially the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire (French: République de Côte d'Ivoire), is a country in West Africa. It has an area of 322,462 square kilometres (124,503 sq mi), and borders the countries Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana; its southern boundary is along the Gulf of GuineaSony PCG-71313M battery. The country's population was 15,366,672 in 1998[4] and was estimated to be 20,617,068 in 2009.[1] Ivory Coast's first national census in 1975 counted 6.7 million inhabitants.

Prior to its colonization by Europeans, Ivory Coast was home to several states, including Gyaaman, the Kong Empire, and Baoulé. There were two Anyi kingdoms, Indénié and Sanwi, which attempted to retain their separate identity through the French colonial period and after independence. Sony PCG-71212M batteryAn 1843–1844 treaty made Ivory Coast a protectorate of France and in 1893, it became a French colony as part of the European scramble for Africa. Ivory Coast became independent on 7 August 1960. From 1960 to 1993, the country was led by Félix Houphouët-Boigny. It maintained close political and economic association with its West African neighbours, while at the same time maintaining close ties to the WestSony PCG-71311M battery, especially to France. Since the end of Houphouët-Boigny's rule, Ivory Coast has experienced one coup d’état, in 1999, and a civil war, which broke out in 2002.[7] A political agreement between the government and the rebels brought a return to peace.

Ivory Coast is a republic with a strong executive power invested in the President. Its de jure capital is Yamoussoukro and the biggest city is the port city of Abidjan. The country is divided into 19 regions and 81 departmentsSony PCG-71213M battery. It is a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, African Union, La Francophonie, Latin Union, Economic Community of West African States and South Atlantic Peace and Cooperation Zone. Through production of coffee and cocoa, the country was an economic powerhouse during the 1960s and 1970s in West Africa. However, Ivory Coast went through an economic crisis in the 1980sSony PCG-61211M battery, leading to the country's period of political and social turmoil. The 21st century Ivoirian economy is largely market-based and relies heavily on agriculture, with smallholder cash crop production being dominant.[1]

The official language is French, although many of the local languages are widely used, including Baoulé, Dioula, Dan, Anyin and Cebaara Senufo. The main religions are Islam, Christianity (primarily Roman Catholic) and various indigenous religionsSONY VAIO PCG-81212M battery.

Names

Portuguese and French merchant-explorers in the 15th and 16th centuries divided the west coast of Africa, very roughly, into five coasts reflecting local economies. The coast that the French named the Côte d'Ivoire and the Portuguese named the Costa do Marfim — both, literally, being "Ivory Coast" — lay between what was known as the Guiné de Cabo VerdeSony VAIO PCG-81112M battery, so-called "Upper Guinea" at Cabo Verde, and Lower Guinea. There were also a "Grain Coast", a "Gold Coast", and a "Slave Coast", and, like those three, the name "Ivory Coast" reflected the major trade that occurred on that particular stretch of the coast: the export of ivory.

Other names for the coast included the Côte de Dents, literally "Teeth Coast", again reflecting the trade in ivory; the Côte de Quaqua, after the people that the Dutch named the Quaqua (alternatively Kwa Kwa) SONY VAIO PCG-71111M battery; the Coast of the Five and Six Stripes, after a type of cotton fabric also traded there; and the Côte du Vent, the Windward Coast, after perennial local off-shore weather conditions. One can find the name Cote de(s) Dents regularly used in older works.[17] It was used in Duckett's Dictionnaire (Duckett 1853) and by Nicolas Villault de Bellefond, for examples, although Antoine François Prévost used Côte d'Ivoire. SONY VAIO PCG-7196M battery But in the 19th century it died out in favour of Côte d'Ivoire.[17]

The coastline of the modern state is not quite coterminous with what the 15th and 16th century merchants knew as the "Teeth" or "Ivory" coast, which was considered to stretch from Cape Palmas to Cape Three Points and which is thus now divided between the modern states of Ghana and Ivory Coast (with a minute portion of Liberia) SONY VAIO PCG-7195M battery. But it retained the name through French rule and independence in 1960. The name had long since been translated literally into other languages[n 3] which the post-independence government considered to be increasingly troublesome whenever its international dealings extended beyond the Francophone sphere. Therefore, in April 1986, the government declared Côte d'Ivoire SONY VAIO PCG-7194M battery (or, more fully, République de Côte d'Ivoire[20]) to be its formal name for the purposes of diplomatic protocol, and officially refuses to recognize or accept any translation from French to another language in its international dealings.

Despite the Ivorian government's request, the English translation "Ivory Coast" (sometimes "the Ivory Coast") is still frequently used in English, by various media outlets and publications. SONY VAIO PCG-7192M battery

Main article: History of Ivory Coast

[edit]Land migration

Prehistoric polished stone celt from Boundiali in northern Ivory Coast. Photo taken at the IFAN Museum of African Arts in Dakar, Senegal.

The first human presence in Ivory Coast has been difficult to determine because human remains have not been well preserved in the country's humid climate. However, the presence of newly found weapon and tool fragments SONY PCG-8113M battery (specifically, polished axes cut through shale and remnants of cooking and fishing) has been interpreted as a possible indication of a large human presence during the Upper Paleolithic period (15,000 to 10,000 BC),[28] or at the minimum, the Neolithic period.[29]

The earliest known inhabitants of Ivory Coast have left traces scattered throughout the territory. Historians believe that they were all either displaced or absorbed by the ancestors of the present indigenous inhabitantsSONY PCG-8112M battery, who migrated south into the area before the 16th century. Such groups included the Ehotilé (Aboisso), Kotrowou (Fresco), Zéhiri (Grand Lahou), Ega and Diès (Divo).[30]

[edit]Pre-Islamic and Islamic periods

The first recorded history is found in the chronicles of North African (Berber) traders, who, from early Roman times, conducted a caravan trade across the Sahara in salt, slaves, gold, and other goodsSONY PCG-7134M battery. The southern terminals of the trans-Saharan trade routes were located on the edge of the desert, and from there supplemental trade extended as far south as the edge of the rain forest. The more important terminals—Djenné, Gao, and Timbuctu—grew into major commercial centres around which the great Sudanic empires developedSONY PCG-7131M battery .

By controlling the trade routes with their powerful military forces, these empires were able to dominate neighbouring states. The Sudanic empires also became centres of Islamic education. Islam had been introduced in the western Sudan (today's Mali) by Muslim Berber traders from North Africa; it spread rapidly after the conversion of many important rulersSONY PCG-7122M battery. From the eleventh century, by which time the rulers of the Sudanic empires had embraced Islam, it spread south into the northern areas of contemporary Ivory Coast.

The Ghana empire, the earliest of the Sudanic empires, flourished in present-day eastern Mauritania from the fourth to the thirteenth century. At the peak of its power in the eleventh centurySONY PCG-7121M battery , its realms extended from the Atlantic Ocean to Timbuctu. After the decline of Ghana, the Mali Empire grew into a powerful Muslim state, which reached its apogee in the early part of the fourteenth century. The territory of the Mali Empire in Ivory Coast was limited to the north-west corner around Odienné.

Its slow decline starting at the end of the fourteenth century followed internal discord and revolts by vassal states, one of which, SonghaiSONY PCG-7113M battery, flourished as an empire between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. Songhai was also weakened by internal discord, which led to factional warfare. This discord spurred most of the migrations of peoples southward toward the forest belt. The dense rain forest, covering the southern half of the country, created barriers to the large-scale political organizations that had arisen in the northSONY PCG-7112M battery . Inhabitants lived in villages or clusters of villages; their contacts with the outside world were filtered through long-distance traders. Villagers subsisted on agriculture and hunting.

Pre-European era

Pre-Colonial kingdoms.

Five important states flourished in Ivory Coast in the pre-European era. The Muslim Kong Empire was established by the Juula in the early eighteenth century in the north-central region inhabited by the Sénoufo, who had fled Islamization under the Mali EmpireSONY PCG-8Z3M battery. Although Kong became a prosperous center of agriculture, trade, and crafts, ethnic diversity and religious discord gradually weakened the kingdom. The city of Kong was destroyed in 1895 by Samori Ture.

The Abron kingdom of Gyaaman was established in the seventeenth century by an Akan group, the Abron, who had fled the developing Ashanti confederation of Asanteman in what is present-day Ghana. From their settlement south of BondoukouSONY PCG-8Z2M battery , the Abron gradually extended their hegemony over the Dyula people in Bondoukou, who were recent émigrés from the market city of Begho. Bondoukou developed into a major centre of commerce and Islam. The kingdom's Quranic scholars attracted students from all parts of West Africa. In the mid-seventeenth century in east-central Ivory Coast, other Akan groups' fleeing the Asante established a Baoulé kingdom at Sakasso and two Agni kingdoms, Indénié and SanwiSONY PCG-8Z1M battery.

The Baoulé, like the Ashanti, developed a highly centralized political and administrative structure under three successive rulers. It finally split into smaller chiefdoms. Despite the breakup of their kingdom, the Baoulé strongly resisted French subjugation. The descendants of the rulers of the Agni kingdoms tried to retain their separate identity long after Ivory Coast's independenceSONY PCG-8Y3M battery; as late as 1969, the Sanwi attempted to break away from Ivory Coast and form an independent kingdom.[31] Michael Jackson visited Krinjabo, the capital of Sanwi, in 1992 and met with the king.[32] The current king of Sanwi is Nana Amon Ndoufou V (since 2002).

Establishment of French rule

Compared to neighbouring Ghana, Ivory Coast suffered little from the slave trade, as European slaving and merchant ships preferred other areas along the coast with better harboursSONY PCG-8Y2M battery. The earliest recorded European voyage to West Africa was made by the Portuguese and took place in 1482. The first West African French settlement, Saint Louis, was founded in the mid-seventeenth century in Senegal while, at about the same time, the Dutch ceded to the French a settlement at Goree Island off Dakar. A French mission was established in 1637 Assinie near the border with the Gold Coast (now Ghana) SONY PCG-7Z1M battery.

Assinie's survival was precarious, however. It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that the French were firmly established in Ivory Coast. In 1843–1844, French admiral Bouët-Willaumez signed treaties with the kings of the Grand Bassam and Assinie regions, placing their territories under a French protectorate. French explorers, missionaries, trading companiesSONY PCG-6W2M battery, and soldiers gradually extended the area under French control inland from the lagoon region. Pacification was not accomplished until 1915.

Activity along the coast stimulated European interest in the interior, especially along the two great rivers, the Senegal and the Niger. Concerted French exploration of West Africa began in the mid-nineteenth century but moved slowlySONY PCG-5J5M battery, based more on individual initiative than on government policy. In the 1840s, the French concluded a series of treaties with local West African rulers that enabled the French to build fortified posts along the Gulf of Guinea to serve as permanent trading centres.

Louis-Gustave Binger of French West Africa in 1892 treaty signing with Famienkro leaders, in present day N'zi-Comoé Region, Ivory CoastSONY PCG-5K2M battery.

The first posts in Ivory Coast included one at Assinie and another at Grand Bassam, which became the colony's first capital. The treaties provided for French sovereignty within the posts, and for trading privileges in exchange for fees or coutumes paid annually to the local rulers for the use of the land. The arrangement was not entirely satisfactory to the FrenchSONY PCG-5K1M battery, because trade was limited and misunderstandings over treaty obligations often arose. Nevertheless, the French government maintained the treaties, hoping to expand trade.

France also wanted to maintain a presence in the region to stem the increasing influence of the British along the Gulf of Guinea coast. The French built naval bases to keep out non-French traders and began a systematic conquest of the interior. SONY PCG-5J4M battery (They accomplished this only after a long war in the 1890s against Mandinka forces, mostly from Gambia. Guerrilla warfare by the Baoulé and other eastern groups continued until 1917).

The defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War in 1871 and the subsequent annexation by Germany of the French province of Alsace Lorraine caused the French government to abandon SONY PCG-5J1M battery  its colonial ambitions and withdraw its military garrisons from its French West African trading posts, leaving them in the care of resident merchants. The trading post at Grand Bassam in Ivory Coast was left in the care of a shipper from Marseille, Arthur Verdier, who in 1878 was named Resident of the Establishment of Ivory Coast. SONY PCG-5G2M battery

In 1886, to support its claims of effective occupation, France again assumed direct control of its West African coastal trading posts and embarked on an accelerated program of exploration in the interior. In 1887 Lieutenant Louis Gustave Binger began a two-year journey that traversed parts of Ivory Coast's interior. By the end of the journey, he had concluded four treaties establishing French protectorates in Ivory CoastSony VAIO PCG-8131M battery. Also in 1887, Verdier's agent, Marcel Treich-Laplène, negotiated five additional agreements that extended French influence from the headwaters of the Niger River Basin through Ivory Coast.

French colonial era

Arrival in Kong of new French West Africa governor Louis-Gustave Binger in 1892.

By the end of the 1880s, France had established what passed for control over the coastal regions of Ivory Coast, and in 1889 Britain recognized French sovereignty in the area. That same year, France named Treich-Laplène titular governor of the territorySony VAIO PCG-8152M battery. In 1893 Ivory Coast was made a French colony, and then Captain Binger was appointed governor. Agreements with Liberia in 1892 and with Britain in 1893 determined the eastern and western boundaries of the colony, but the northern boundary was not fixed until 1947 because of efforts by the French government to attach parts of Upper Volta (present-day Burkina Faso) and French Sudan (present-day Mali) to Ivory Coast for economic and administrative reasonsSony VAIO PCG-31311M battery.

France's main goal was to stimulate the production of exports. Coffee, cocoa and palm oil crops were soon planted along the coast. Ivory Coast stood out as the only West African country with a sizeable population of settlers; elsewhere in West and Central Africa, the French and British were largely bureaucrats.[citation needed] As a result, French citizens owned one third of the cocoa, coffee and banana plantations and adopted a forced-labour systemSony VAIO PCG-31111M battery.

Throughout the early years of French rule, French military contingents were sent inland to establish new posts. The African population resisted French penetration and settlement. Among those offering greatest resistance was Samori Ture, who in the 1880s and 1890s was establishing the Wassoulou Empire, which extended over large parts of present-day GuineaSony VAIO PCG-8112M battery, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ivory Coast. Samori Ture's large, well-equipped army, which could manufacture and repair its own firearms, attracted strong support throughout the region. The French responded to Samori Ture's expansion of regional control with military pressure. French campaigns against Samori Ture, which were met with fierce resistance, intensified in the mid-1890s until he was captured in 1898Sony VAIO PCG-7186M battery.

France's imposition of a head tax in 1900 to support the colony in a public works program, provoked a number of revolts. Ivoirians viewed the tax as a violation of the terms of the protectorate treaties, because they thought that France was demanding the equivalent of a coutume from the local kings, rather than the reverse. Much of the population, especially in the interior, considered the tax a humiliating symbol of submission. Sony VAIO PCG-7171M battery In 1905, the French abolished slavery in most of French West Africa.[34]

Samori Touré

From 1904 to 1958, Ivory Coast was a constituent unit of the Federation of French West Africa. It was a colony and an overseas territory under the Third Republic. Until the period following World War II, governmental affairs in French West Africa were administered from Paris. France's policy in West Africa was reflected mainly in its philosophy of "association"Sony VAIO PCG-9Z1M battery, meaning that all Africans in Ivory Coast were officially French "subjects", but without rights to representation in Africa or France.

French colonial policy incorporated concepts of assimilation and association. Based on an assumption of the superiority of French culture over all others, in practice the assimilation policy meant extension of the French languageSony VAIO PCG-5S1M battery, institutions, laws, and customs in the colonies. The policy of association also affirmed the superiority of the French in the colonies, but it entailed different institutions and systems of laws for the colonizer and the colonized. Under this policy, the Africans in Ivory Coast were allowed to preserve their own customs insofar as they were compatible with French interestsSony VAIO PCG-5P1M battery.

An indigenous elite trained in French administrative practice formed an intermediary group between the French and the Africans. Assimilation was practiced in Ivory Coast to the extent that after 1930, a small number of Westernized Ivoirians were granted the right to apply for French citizenshipSony VAIO PCG-5N2M battery. Most Ivoirians, however, were classified as French subjects and were governed under the principle of association.[35] As subjects of France, they had no political rights. They were drafted for work in mines, on plantations, as porters, and on public projects as part of their tax responsibility. They were expected to serve in the military and were subject to the indigénat, a separate system of law. Sony VAIO PCG-3C2M battery

In World War II, the Vichy regime remained in control until 1943, when members of General Charles de Gaulle's provisional government assumed control of all French West Africa. The Brazzaville Conference of 1944, the first Constituent Assembly of the Fourth Republic in 1946, and France's gratitude for African loyalty during World War IISony VAIO PCG-8161M batteryled to far-reaching governmental reforms in 1946. French citizenship was granted to all African "subjects," the right to organize politically was recognized, and various forms of forced labour were abolished.

Until 1958, governors appointed in Paris administered the colony of Ivory Coast, using a system of direct, centralized administration that left little room for Ivoirian participation in policy makingSony VAIO PCG-8141M battery. Whereas British colonial administration adopted divide-and-rule policies elsewhere, applying ideas of assimilation only to the educated elite, the French were interested in ensuring that the small but influential elite was sufficiently satisfied with the status quo to refrain from any anti-French sentiment. Although strongly opposed to the practices of association, educated Ivoirians believed thatSony VAIO PCG-3J1M battery they would achieve equality with their French peers through assimilation rather than through complete independence from France. But, after the assimilation doctrine was implemented entirely through the postwar reforms, Ivoirian leaders realized that even assimilation implied the superiority of the French over the Ivoirians, and that discrimination and political inequality would end only with independence. Sony VAIO PCG-3H1M battery

Independence

Félix Houphouët-Boigny with John F. Kennedy in 1962

The son of a Baoulé chief, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, was to become Ivory Coast's father of independence. In 1944 he formed the country's first agricultural trade union for African cocoa farmers like himself. Angered that colonial policy favoured French plantation owners, they united to recruit migrant workers for their own farmsSony VAIO PCG-3F1M battery. Houphouët-Boigny soon rose to prominence and within a year was elected to the French Parliament in Paris. A year later the French abolished forced labour. Houphouët-Boigny established a strong relationship with the French government, expressing a belief that the country would benefit from it, which it did for many yearsSony VAIO PCG-3C1M battery. France appointed him as the first African to become a minister in a European government.

A turning point in relations with France was reached with the 1956 Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre), which transferred a number of powers from Paris to elected territorial governments in French West Africa and also removed remaining voting inequalities. In 1958, Ivory Coast became an autonomous member of the French Community (which replaced the French Union) Sony VAIO PCG-9Z2L battery.

At the time of Ivory Coast's independence (1960), the country was easily French West Africa's most prosperous, contributing over 40% of the region's total exports. When Houphouët-Boigny became the first president, his government gave farmers good prices for their products to further stimulate productionSony VAIO PCG-9Z1L battery. This was further boosted by a significant immigration of workers from surrounding countries. Coffee production increased significantly, catapulting Ivory Coast into third place in world output (behind Brazil and Colombia). By 1979, the country was the world's leading producer of cocoa.

It also became Africa's leading exporter of pineapples and palm oil. French technicians contributed to the 'Ivoirian miracle'Sony VAIO PCG-9131L battery. In other African nations, the people drove out the Europeans following independence; but in Ivory Coast, they poured in. The French community grew from only 30,000 prior to independence to 60,000 in 1980, most of them teachers, managers and advisors.[38] For 20 years, the economy maintained an annual growth rate of nearly 10%—the highest of Africa's non-oil-exporting countriesSony VAIO PCG-8161L battery.

Houphouët-Boigny administration

First Ivorian Civil War

Houphouët-Boigny's one-party rule was not amenable to political competition. Laurent Gbagbo, who would be the president of Ivory Coast in 2000, had to flee as he incurred the ire of Houphouët-Boigny when Gbagbo founded the Front Populair Ivoirien.[39] Houphouët-Boigny banked on his broad appeal to the population who continually elected himSony VAIO PCG-8152L battery. He was also criticized for his emphasis on developing large scale projects. Many felt the millions of dollars spent transforming his home village, Yamoussoukro, into the new capital that it became, were wasted; others support his vision to develop a centre for peace, education and religion in the heart of the country. But in the early 1980s, the world recession and a local drought sent shock waves through the Ivoirian economySony VAIO PCG-8141L battery. Due to the overcutting of timber and collapsing sugar prices, the country's external debt increased threefold. Crime rose dramatically in Abidjan.[citation needed]

In 1990, hundreds of civil servants went on strike, joined by students protesting institutional corruption. The unrest forced the government to support multi-party democracy. Houphouët-Boigny became increasingly feeble and died in 1993. He favoured Henri Konan Bédié as his successorSony VAIO PCG-8131L battery.

Bédié administration

In October 1995, Bédié overwhelmingly won re-election against a fragmented and disorganised opposition. He tightened his hold over political life, jailing several hundred opposition supporters. In contrast, the economic outlook improved, at least superficially, with decreasing inflation and an attempt to remove foreign debtSony VAIO PCG-81312L battery.

Election results of 2002 in Ivory Coast

Unlike Houphouët-Boigny, who was very careful in avoiding any ethnic conflict and left access to administrative positions open to immigrants from neighbouring countries, Bedié emphasized the concept of "Ivority" (French: Ivoirité) to exclude his rival Alassane Ouattara, who had two northern Ivorian parents, from running for future presidential electionSony VAIO PCG-81214L battery. As people originating from foreign countries are a large part of the Ivoirian population, this policy excluded many people from Ivoirian nationality, and the relationship between various ethnic groups became strained which resulted in two civil wars in the following decadesSony VAIO PCG-81115L battery.

1999 coup

Similarly, Bédié excluded many potential opponents from the army. In late 1999, a group of dissatisfied officers staged a military coup, putting General Robert Guéï in power. Bédié fled into exile in France. The new leadership reduced crime and corruption, and the generals pressed for austerity and openly campaigned in the streets for a less wasteful societySony VAIO PCG-81114L battery.

Gbagbo administration

A presidential election was held in October 2000 in which Laurent Gbagbo vied with Guéï, but it was peaceful. The lead-up to the election was marked by military and civil unrest. Following a public uprising that resulted in around 180 deaths, Guéï was swiftly replaced by Gbagbo. Alassane Ouattara was disqualified by the country's Supreme CourtSony VAIO PCG-81113L battery, due to his alleged Burkinabé nationality. The existing and later reformed constitution [under Guéï] did not allow non-citizens to run for presidency. This sparked violent protests in which his supporters, mainly from the country's north, battled riot police in the capital, YamoussoukroSony VAIO PCG-7142L battery.

[edit]Ivorian Civil War

Main article: First Ivorian Civil War

In the early hours of 19 September 2002, while the President was in Italy, there was an armed uprising. Troops who were to be demobilised mutinied, launching attacks in several cities. The battle for the main gendarmerie barracks in Abidjan lasted until mid-morning, but by lunchtime the government forces had secured the main city, AbidjanSony VAIO PCG-7141L battery. They had lost control of the north of the country, and the rebel forces made their strong-hold in the northern city of Bouake. The rebels threatened to move on Abidjan again and France deployed troops from its base in the country to stop any rebel advance. The French said they were protecting their own citizens from danger, but their deployment also aided the government forcesSony VAIO PCG-71111L battery. It was not established as a fact that the French were helping either side but each side accused them of being on the opposite side. It is disputed as to whether the French actions improved or worsened the situation in the long term.

What exactly happened that night is disputed. The government claimed that former president Robert Guéï had led a coup attemptSony VAIO PCG-61411L battery, and state TV showed pictures of his dead body in the street; counter-claims stated that he and fifteen others had been murdered at his home and his body had been moved to the streets to incriminate him. Alassane Ouattara took refuge in the French embassy; his home had burned down.

President Gbagbo cut short his trip to Italy and on his return statedSony VAIO PCG-61112L battery, in a television address, that some of the rebels were hiding in the shanty towns where foreign migrant workers lived. Gendarmes and vigilantes bulldozed and burned homes by the thousands, attacking the residents.

"Child soldier in the Ivory Coast." (drawing by Gilbert G. Groud)

An early ceasefire with the rebels, which had the backing of much of the northern populace, proved short-livedSony VAIO PCG-61111L battery, and fighting over the prime cocoa-growing areas resumed. France sent in troops to maintain the cease-fire boundaries,[40] and militias, including warlords and fighters from Liberia and Sierra Leone, took advantage of the crisis to seize parts of the west.

[edit]2002 unity government

In January 2003, Gbagbo and rebel leaders signed accords creating a "government of national unity". Curfews were lifted and French troops patrolled the western border of the countrySony VAIO PCG-5T4L battery. The unity government was unstable and the central problems remained with neither side achieving its goals. In March 2004, 120 people were killed in an opposition rally, and subsequent mob violence led to foreign nationals being evacuated. A later report concluded the killings were planned.

Though UN peacekeepers were deployed to maintain a Zone of Confidence, relations between Gbagbo and the opposition continued to deteriorateSony VAIO PCG-5T3L battery.

Early in November 2004, after the peace agreement had effectively collapsed following the rebels' refusal to disarm, Gbagbo ordered airstrikes against the rebels. During one of these airstrikes in Bouaké, on 6 November 2004, French soldiers were hit and nine were killed; the Ivorian government has said it was a mistake, but the French have claimed it was deliberateSony VAIO PCG-5T2L battery. They responded by destroying most Ivoirian military aircraft (2 Su-25 planes and 5 helicopters), and violent retaliatory riots against the French broke out in Abidjan.[41]

Gbagbo's original mandate as president expired on 30 October 2005, but due to the lack of disarmament it was deemed impossible to hold an election, and therefore his term in office was extended for a maximum of one yearSony VAIO PCG-5S3L battery, according to a plan worked out by the African Union; this plan was endorsed by the United Nations Security Council.[42] With the late October deadline approaching in 2006, it was regarded as very unlikely that the election would be held by that point, and the opposition and the rebels rejected the possibility of another term extension for Gbagbo. Sony VAIO PCG-5S2L batteryThe UN Security Council endorsed another one-year extension of Gbagbo's term on 1 November 2006; however, the resolution provided for the strengthening of Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny's powers. Gbagbo said the next day that elements of the resolution deemed to be constitutional violations would not be applied. Sony VAIO PCG-5S1L battery

A peace accord between the government and the rebels, or New Forces, was signed on 4 March 2007, and subsequently Guillaume Soro, leader of the New Forces, became prime minister. These events have been seen by some observers as substantially strengthening Gbagbo's position.[45]

2010 electionSony VAIO PCG-5R2L battery

Main article: Ivorian presidential election, 2010

The presidential elections that should have been organized in 2005 were postponed until November 2010. The preliminary results announced by the Electoral Commission showed a loss for Gbagbo in favour of his rival, former prime minister Alassane Ouattara. The ruling FPI contested the results before the Constitutional CouncilSony VAIO PCG-5R1L battery, charging massive fraud in the northern departments controlled by the rebels of the Forces Nouvelles de Côte d'Ivoire (FNCI). These charges were contradicted by international observers. The report of the results led to severe tension and violent incidents. The Constitutional Council, which consists of Gbagbo supporters, declared the results of seven northern departments unlawful and that Gbagbo had won the elections with 51% of the voteSony VAIO PCG-5P4L battery (instead of Ouattara winning with 54%, as reported by the Electoral Commission). After the inauguration of Gbagbo, Ouattara, recognized as the winner by most countries and the United Nations, organized an alternative inauguration. These events raised fears of a resurgence of the civil war; thousands of refugees have fled the country.[46] The African Union sent Thabo MbekiSony VAIO PCG-5P2L battery, former President of South Africa, to mediate the conflict. The United Nations Security Council adopted a common resolution recognising Alassane Ouattara as winner of the elections, based on the position of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). ECOWAS suspended Ivory Coast from all its decision-making bodies[47] while the African Union also suspended the country's membership. Sony VAIO PCG-5N4L battery

In 2010, a Colonel of the Ivory Coast armed forces, Nguessan Yao was arrested in New York in a year-long U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation charging for procuring and illegal export weapons and munitions of 4,000 9-mm handguns, 200,000 rounds of ammunition and 50,000 tear-gas grenades, in violation of UN embargo. Several other Ivory Coast officers were released for their diplomatic passportsSony VAIO PCG-5N2L battery. His accomplice, Michael Barry Shor, an international trader, was located in Virginia.[49]

2011 Civil War

A shelter for internally displaced persons during the 2011 civil war.

Main article: Second Ivorian Civil War

The presidential election led to the 2010–2011 Ivorian crisis and to the Second Ivorian Civil War. After months of unsuccessful negotiations and sporadic violence, the crisis entered a critical stage as Ouattara's forces seized control of most of the country, with Gbagbo entrenched in Abidjan, the country's largest citySony VAIO PCG-51513L battery. International organizations reported numerous instances of human rights violations by both sides. In the city of Duékoué, hundreds of people were estimated to have been killed, predominantly by advancing pro-Ouattara militias. In nearby Blolequin, dozens of people were killed, reportedly by retreating Liberian mercenaries who had been hired by pro-Gbagbo forces. Sony VAIO PCG-51511L battery UN and French forces took military action against Gbagbo. Gbagbo was taken into custody after a raid into his residence on 11 April. It was initially thought he was captured by French forces, however Ouattara's envoy to the UN claimed it was their forces who captured him,[51] and the French deny any involvement in his arrestSony VAIO PCG-51412L battery.

Population of major cities

The official capital of Ivory Coast is Yamoussoukro (295,500), the fourth most populous city. Abidjan, with a population of 3,310,500, is the largest city and serves as the commercial and banking center of Ivory Coast as well as the de facto capital. It is also the most populous city in French-speaking Western AfricaSony VAIO PCG-51411L battery.

Main article: Politics of Ivory Coast

Since 1983, Ivory Coast's official capital has been Yamoussoukro; Abidjan, however, remains the administrative center. Most countries maintain their embassies in Abidjan, although some (including the United Kingdom) have closed. The Ivoirian population continues to suffer because of an ongoing civil war (See the History section above). International human rights organizations have noted problems with the treatment of captive non-combatantsSony VAIO PCG-51312L battery by both sides and the re-emergence of child slavery among workers in cocoa production.

Although most of the fighting ended by late 2004, the country remained split in two, with the north controlled by the New Forces (FN). A new presidential election was expected to be held in October 2005, and an agreement was reached among the rival parties in March 2007 to proceed with thisSony VAIO PCG-51311L battery, but it continued to be postponed until November 2010 due to delays in its preparation.

Elections were finally held in 2010. The first round of elections were held peacefully, and widely hailed as free and fair. Runoffs were held 28 November 2010, after being delayed one week from the original date of 21 November. Laurent Gbagbo as president ran against former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara. Sony VAIO PCG-51211L battery

On 2 December, the Electoral Commission declared that Ouattara had won the election by a margin off 54% to 46%. In response, the Gbagbo-aligned Constitutional Council rejected the declaration, and the government announced that country's borders had been sealed. An Ivorian military spokesman said, "The air, land and sea border of the country are closed to all movement of people and goods." Sony VAIO PCG-41112L battery

Main article: Geography of Ivory Coast

A street market in Abidjan

Ivory Coast is a country of western sub-Saharan Africa. It borders Liberia and Guinea in the west, Mali and Burkina Faso in the north, Ghana in the east, and the Gulf of Guinea (Atlantic Ocean) in the south. The country lies between latitudes 4° and 11°N, and longitudes 2° and 9°W.

Main article: Economy of Ivory CoastSony VAIO PCG-3A4L battery

Graphical depiction of Ivory Coast's product exports in 28 color coded categories.

Ivory Coast has, for the region, a relatively high income per capita (USD 960 in 2007) and plays a key role in transit trade for neighboring, landlocked countries. The country is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union, constituting 40 percent of the monetary union’s total GDP. The country is the world's largest exporter of cocoaSony VAIO PCG-3A3L battery, and the fourth largest exporter of goods, in general, in sub-Saharan Africa (following South Africa, Nigeria and Angola).[55]

The maintenance of close ties to France since independence in 1960, diversification of agriculture for export, and encouragement of foreign investment, have been factors in the economic growth of Ivory CoastSony VAIO PCG-3A2L battery. In recent years Ivory Coast has been subject to greater competition and falling prices in the global marketplace for its primary agricultural crops: coffee and cocoa. That, compounded with high internal corruption, makes life difficult for the grower and those exporting into foreign marketsSony VAIO PCG-3A1L battery.

Main article: Environment of Ivory Coast

Demographics

Main article: Demographics of Ivory Coast

See also: Languages of Ivory Coast

Ivoirian woman in a head tie.

French, the official language, is taught in schools and serves as a lingua franca in the country. Ethnic groups include Akan 42.1%, Voltaiques or Gur 17.6%, Northern Mandes 16.5%, Krous 11%, Southern Mandes 10%, other 2.8% (includes 30,000 Lebanese and 45,000 French) (2004). 77% of the population are considered IvoiriansSony VAIO PCG-394L battery. They represent several different peoples and language groups. An estimated 65 languages are spoken in the country. One of the most common is Dyula, which acts as a trade language as well as a language commonly spoken by the Muslim population.

The native born population is roughly split into three groups of Muslim, Christian (primarily Roman Catholic) and animist. Sony VAIO PCG-393L batterySince Ivory Coast has established itself as one of the most successful West African nations, about 20% of the population (about 3.4 million) consists of workers from neighbouring Liberia, Burkina Faso and Guinea.

4% of the population is of non-African ancestry. Many are French,[56] Lebanese,[57] Vietnamese and Spanish citizens, as well as Protestant missionaries from the United States and Canada. In November 2004Sony VAIO PCG-391L battery, around 10,000 French and other foreign nationals evacuated Ivory Coast due to attacks from pro-government youth militias.[58] Aside from French nationals, there are native-born descendants of French settlers who arrived during the country's colonial period.

Religion in Ivory Coast remains very heterogeneous, with Islam (almost all Sunni Muslims) and Christianity (mostly Roman Catholic) being the major religions. Muslims dominate the north, while Christians dominate the southSony VAIO PCG-384L battery. In 2009, according to U.S. Department of State estimates, Christians and Muslims each made up 35 to 40% of the population, while an estimated 25% of the population practiced traditional religions.[59] Ivory Coast's capital, Yamoussoukro, is home to the largest church building[n 6] in the world, the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of YamoussoukroSony VAIO PCG-383L battery.

Main article: Health in Ivory Coast

Life expectancy at birth was 41 for males in 2004; for females it was 47.[60] Infant mortality was 118 of 1000 live births.[60] There are 12 physicians per 100,000 people.[60] About a quarter of the population lives below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.[61]

Children in a classroom in AbidjanSony VAIO PCG-382L battery

Main article: Education in Ivory Coast

A large part of the adult population, in particular women, are illiterate. Many children between 6 and 10 years are not enrolled in school. [62] The majority of students in secondary education are male.[63] At the end of secondary education, students can sit the Baccalauréat examination.[63] The country has universities in Abidjan (Université de Cocody) and Bouaké, (Université de Bouaké) Sony VAIO PCG-381L battery.

Main article: Culture of Ivory Coast

Mask from Ivory Coast

Main article: Music of Ivory Coast

Each of the ethnic groups in Ivory Coast has its own music genres, most showing strong vocal polyphony. Talking drums are also common, especially among the Appolo, and polyrhythms, another African characteristic, are found throughout Ivory Coast and are especially common in the southwestSony VAIO PCG-7185L battery.

Popular music genres from Ivory Coast include zoblazo, zouglou and Coupé-Décalé. A few Ivorian artists who have known international success are Magic Système, Alpha Blondy, Meiway, Christina Goh from ivorian descent.

See also: Côte d'Ivoire at the Olympics

Ivory Coast won an Olympic silver medal for men's 400-metre in the 1984 games, where it competed as "Côte d'Ivoire"Sony VAIO PCG-7184L battery.

The most popular sport in Ivory Coast is association football. The national football team has played in the World Cup twice, in Germany 2006 and in South Africa 2010. Rugby union is also popular, and the national rugby union team qualified to play at the Rugby World Cup in South Africa in 1995Sony VAIO PCG-7183L battery.

Yassa is a popular dish throughout West Africa prepared with chicken or fish. Chicken yassa is pictured.

Main article: Ivorian cuisine

The traditional cuisine of Ivory Coast is very similar to that of neighboring countries in west Africa in its reliance on grains and tubers. Cassava and plantains are significant parts of Ivorian cuisine.[64] A type of corn paste called “Aitiu” is used to prepare corn balls, and peanuts are widely used in many dishes. Sony VAIO PCG-7182L batteryAttiéké is a popular side dish in Ivory Coast made with grated cassava and is a vegetable-based couscous.[64] A common street-vended food is aloko, which is ripe banana fried in palm oil, spiced with steamed onions and chili and eaten alone or with grilled fish. Chicken is commonly consumed, and has a unique flavor due to its lean, low-fat mass in this region.Sony VAIO PCG-7174L battery Seafood includes tuna, sardines, shrimp and bonito,[64] which are similar to tuna. Mafé is a common dish consisting of meat in a peanut sauce.[65] Slow-simmered stews with various ingredients are another common food staple in Ivory Coast.[65] "Kedjenou" is a dish consisting of chicken and vegetables that are slow-cooked in a sealed pot with little or no added liquid, which concentrates the flavors of the chicken and vegetables and tenderizes the chicken. Sony VAIO PCG-7173L battery It's usually cooked in a pottery jar called a canary, over a slight fire, or cooked in an oven.[65] "Bangui" is a local palm wine.

Ivorians have a particular kind of small, open-air restaurant called a maquis, which is unique to the region. Maquis normally feature braised chicken and fish covered in onions and tomatoes, served with attiéké, or kedjenou, a chicken dish made with vegetables and a mild sauceSony VAIO PCG-7172L battery.

Mali i/ˈmɑːli/, officially the Republic of Mali (French: République du Mali, French pronunciation: [maˈli]), is a landlocked country in West Africa. Mali is bordered by Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi) with a population of 14.5 million. Its capital is BamakoSony VAIO PCG-7171L battery. Mali consists of eight regions and its borders on the north reach deep into the middle of the Sahara, while the country's southern part, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Sénégal rivers. The country's economic structure centers around agriculture and fishing. Some of Mali's prominent natural resources include gold, uranium, and saltSony VAIO PCG-7162L battery. About half the population live below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.[5]

Present-day Mali was once part of three West African empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade: the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire (from which Mali is named), and the Songhai Empire. During its golden age, there was a flourishing of mathematics, astronomy, literature, and art. Sony VAIO PCG-7161L battery Mali was once the site of one of the richest and largest empires in the world.[8][9] Mali was also one of the earliest nations to make a declaration of human rights.[10] In the late 19th century, during the Scramble for Africa, France seized control of Mali, making it a part of French Sudan. French Sudan (then known as the Sudanese Republic) joined with Senegal in 1959, achieving independence in 1960 as the Mali FederationSony VAIO PCG-7154L battery. Shortly thereafter, following Senegal's withdrawal from the federation, the Sudanese Republic declared itself the independent Republic of Mali. After a long period of one-party rule, a 1991 coup led to the writing of a new constitution and the establishment of Mali as a democratic, multi-party stateSony VAIO PCG-7153L battery.

On 22 March 2012, a group of junior soldiers seized control of the country's presidential palace and declared the government dissolved and its constitution suspended.[11] On 6 April 2012, rebels from the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) declared the secession of a new state, Azawad, from Mali.[12] Shortly afterSony VAIO PCG-7152L battery, the MNLA were sidelined by Islamist groups associated with Al-Qaeda, and dropped their demands for secession. Mali is currently being led by an interim government led by former Prime Minister Dioncounda Traoré. Plans to re-take the north with international assistance are being formulated, after which the interim government plans to hold the long-delayed national electionsSony VAIO PCG-7151L battery.

Mali was once part of three famed West African empires which controlled trans-Saharan trade in gold, salt, slaves, and other precious commodities.[13] These Sahelian kingdoms had neither rigid geopolitical boundaries nor rigid ethnic identities.[13] The earliest of these empires was the Ghana Empire, which was dominated by the Soninke, a Mande-speaking people. Sony VAIO VGN-CS25H/P battery The empire expanded throughout West Africa from the 8th century until 1078, when it was conquered by the Almoravids.[14]

The Mali Empire later formed on the upper Niger River, and reached the height of power in the 14th century.[14] Under the Mali Empire, the ancient cities of Djenné and Timbuktu were centers of both trade and Islamic learning.[14] The empire later declined as a result of internal intrigue, ultimately being supplanted by the Songhai Empire. Sony VAIO VGN-CS25H/C battery The Songhai people originated in current northwestern Nigeria. The Songhai had long been a major power in West Africa subject to the Mali Empire's rule.[14]

In the late 14th century, the Songhai gradually gained independence from the Mali Empire and expanded, ultimately subsuming the entire eastern portion of the Mali Empire.[14] The Songhai Emp

ire's eventual collapse was largely the result of a Moroccan invasion in 1591Sony VAIO VGN-CS23T/Q battery, under the command of Judar Pasha.[14] The fall of the Songhai Empire marked the end of the region's role as a trading crossroads.[14] Following the establishment of sea routes by the European powers, the trans-Saharan trade routes lost significance.

The pages above are from Timbuktu Manuscripts written in Sudani script (a form of Arabic) from the Mali Empire showing established knowledge of astronomy and mathematicsSony VAIO VGN-CS23H battery. Today there are close to a million of these manuscripts found in Timbuktu alone.

One of the worst famines in the region's recorded history occurred in the 18th century. According to John Iliffe, "The worst crises were in the 1680s, when famine extended from the Senegambian coast to the Upper Nile and 'many sold themselves for slaves, only to get a sustenance', and especially in 1738–56Sony VAIO VGN-CS23H/S battery, when West Africa's greatest recorded subsistence crisis, due to drought and locusts, reportedly killed half the population of Timbuktu."[15]

Mali fell under the control of France during the late 19th century.[14] By 1905, most of the area was under firm French control as a part of French Sudan.[14] In early 1959, French Sudan (which changed its name to the Sudanese Republic) and Senegal united to become the Mali FederationSony VAIO VGN-CS23H/B battery. The Mali Federation gained independence from France on 20 June 1960.[14] Senegal withdrew from the federation in August 1960, which allowed the Sudanese Republic to become the independent Republic of Mali on 22 September 1960. Modibo Keïta was elected the first president.[14] Keïta quickly established a one-party stateSony VAIO VGN-CS23G battery, adopted an independent African and socialist orientation with close ties to the East, and implemented extensive nationalization of economic resources.[14]

On 19 November 1968, following progressive economic decline, the Keïta regime was overthrown in a bloodless military coup led by Moussa Traoré,[16] a day which is now commemorated as Liberation Day. The subsequent military-led regime, with Traoré as president, attempted to reform the economySony VAIO VGN-CS23G/W battery. However, his efforts were frustrated by political turmoil and a devastating drought between 1968 to 1974,[16] in which famine killed thousands of people.[17] The Traoré regime faced student unrest beginning in the late 1970s and three coup attempts. However, the Traoré regime repressed all dissenters until the late 1980s. Sony VAIO VGN-CS23G/Q battery

The government continued to attempt economic reforms, and the populace became increasingly dissatisfied.[16] In response to growing demands for multi-party democracy, the Traoré regime allowed some limited political liberalization, but refused to usher in a full-fledged democratic system.[16] In 1990, cohesive opposition movements began to emergeSony VAIO VGN-CS23G/P battery, and was complicated by the turbulent rise of ethnic violence in the north following the return of many Tuaregs to Mali.[16]

A statue of freedom in Bamako.

Anti-government protests in 1991 led to a coup, a transitional government, and a new constitution.[16] Opposition to the corrupt and dictatorial regime of General Mousa Traoré grew during the 1980sSony VAIO VGN-CS21Z/Q battery. During this time, strict programs imposed to satisfy demands of the International Monetary Fund brought increased hardship upon the country's population while elites close to the government supposedly lived in growing wealth. Peaceful student protests in January 1991 were brutally suppressed, with mass arrests and torture of leaders and participants. Scattered acts of rioting and vandalism of public buildings followed, but most actions by the dissidents remained nonviolentSony VAIO VGN-CS21S/T battery.

From 22 March through 26 March 1991, mass pro-democracy rallies and a nationwide strike was held in both urban and rural communities, which became known as les evenements ("the events") or the March Revolution. In Bamako, in response to mass demonstrations organized by university students and later joined by trade unionists and othersSony VAIO VGN-CS21S/R battery, soldiers opened fire indiscriminately on the nonviolent demonstrators. Riots broke out briefly following the shootings. Barricades as well as roadblocks were erected and Traoré declared a state of emergency and imposed a nightly curfew. Despite an estimated loss of 300 lives over the course of four days, nonviolent protesters continued to return to Bamako each day Sony VAIO VGN-CS21S/P batterydemanding the resignation of the dictatorial president and the implementation of democratic policies.[18]

26 March 1991 is the day that marks the clash between military soldiers and peaceful demonstrating students which climaxed in the massacre of dozens under the orders of then President Moussa TraoréSony VAIO VGN-CS13H/Q battery. He and three associates were later tried and convicted and received the death sentence for their part in the decision-making of that day. Nowadays, the day is a national holiday in order to remember the tragic events and the people that were killed.[19] The coup is remembered as Mali's March Revolution of 1991.

By 26 March, the growing refusal of soldiers to fire into the largely nonviolent protesting crowds turned into a full scale tumultSony VAIO VGN-CS13H/P battery, and resulted into thousands of soldiers putting down their arms and joining the pro-democracy movement. That afternoon, Lieutenant Colonel Amadou Toumani Touré announced on the radio that he had arrested the dictatorial president, Moussa Traoré. As a consequence, opposition parties were legalized and a national congress of civil and political groups met to draft a new democratic constitution to be approved by a national referendum. Sony VAIO VGN-CS11Z/T battery

In 1992, Alpha Oumar Konaré won Mali's first democratic, multi-party presidential election, before being re-elected for a second term in 1997, which was the last allowed under the constitution. In 2002 Amadou Toumani Touré, a retired general who had been the leader of the military aspect of the 1991 democratic uprising, was elected. Sony VAIO VGN-CS11S/Q batteryDuring this democratic period Mali was regarded as one of the most politically and socially stable countries in Africa.[21]

In January 2012 an insurgency began, led by the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad.[22] In March rebel troops staged a coup d'état, leading to sanctions and an embargo by the Economic Community of West African States.Sony VAIO VGN-CS11S/P battery The MNLA quickly took control of the north, declaring independence as Azawad.[24] However, Islamist groups including the Ansar Dine and Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), turned on the MNLA and took control of the north,[25] rejecting independence in favour of a Mali under Sharia. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW11M/H battery)

Satellite image of Mali

Landscape in Hombori

Main article: Geography of Mali

Mali is a landlocked nation in West Africa, located southwest of Algeria. It lies between latitudes 10° and 25°N, and longitudes 13°W and 5°E.

At 1,242,248 square kilometres (480,000 sq mi), including the disputed region of Azawad, Mali is the world's 24th-largest country and is comparable in size to South Africa or Angola. Most of the country lies in the southern Sahara, which produces a hot, dust-laden Sudanian savanna zone. Mali is mostly flat, rising to rolling northern plains covered by sand(Sony VAIO VGN-AW11S/B battery). The Adrar des Ifoghas massif lies in the northeast.

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.[27] Late June to early December is the rainy season. During this time, flooding of the Niger River is common, creating the Inner Niger Delta(Sony VAIO VGN-AW11Z/B battery). The nation has considerable natural resources, with gold, uranium, phosphates, kaolinite, salt and limestone being most widely exploited. Mali faces numerous environmental challenges, including desertification, deforestation, soil erosion, and inadequate supplies of potable water.

Regions and cercles

Main articles: Regions of Mali, Cercles of Mali, and Communes of Mali

Mali is divided into eight regions (régions) and one district. Each region has a governor.[29] Since Mali's regions are very large, the country is subdivided into 49 cercles and 703 communes. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW19/Q battery)

The régions and Capital District are:

Since March 2012, the Malian government has not exercised control over Tombouctou, Gao and Kidal Regions and the north-eastern portion of Mopti Region. On 6 April 2012, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad unilaterally declared their secession from Mali as Azawad, an act that neither Mali nor the international community have recognised. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW19 battery)

[edit]Politics and government

Main article: Politics of Mali

Acting Malian President Dioncounda Traoré

Mali is a constitutional democracy governed by the Constitution of 12 January 1992, which was amended in 1999. The constitution provides for a separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The system of government can be described as "semi-presidential". Executive power is vested in a president(Sony VAIO VGN-AW21M/H battery), who is elected to a five-year term by universal suffrage and is limited to two terms. The president serves as a chief of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. A prime minister appointed by the president serves as head of government and in turn appoints the Council of Ministers. The unicameral National Assembly is Mali's sole legislative body, consisting of deputies elected to five-year terms(Sony VAIO VGN-AW21S/B battery). Following the 2007 elections, the Alliance for Democracy and Progress held 113 of 160 seats in the assembly.[38] The assembly holds two regular sessions each year, during which it debates and votes on legislation that has been submitted by a member or by the government.

Mali's constitution provides for an independent judiciary, but the executive continues to exercise influence over the judiciary by virtue of power to appoint judges and oversee both judicial functions and law enforcement. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW21VY/Q battery) Mali's highest courts are the Supreme Court, which has both judicial and administrative powers, and a separate Constitutional Court that provides judicial review of legislative acts and serves as an election arbiter. Various lower courts exist, though village chiefs and elders resolve most local disputes in rural areas. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW21XY/Q battery)

Foreign relations and military

Main articles: Foreign relations of Mali and Military of Mali

Malian President Amadou Toumani Touré with U.S. President George W. Bush

Mali's foreign policy orientation has become increasingly pragmatic and pro-Western over time.[42] Since the institution of a democratic form of government in 2002, Mali's relations with the West in general and with the United States in particular have improved significantly(Sony VAIO VGN-AW21Z/B battery). Mali has a longstanding yet ambivalent relationship with France, a former colonial ruler. Mali was active in regional organizations such as the African Union until its suspension over the 2012 Malian coup d'état. Working to control and resolve regional conflicts, such as in Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, is one of Mali's major foreign policy goals. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW31M/H battery) Mali feels threatened by the potential for the spillover of conflicts in neighboring states, and relations with those neighbors are often uneasy. General insecurity along borders in the north, including cross-border banditry and terrorism, remain troubling issues in regional relations.

Mali's military forces consist of an army, which includes land forces and air force, as well as the paramilitary Gendarmerie and Republican Guard(Sony VAIO VGN-AW31S/B battery), all of which are under the control of Mali's Ministry of Defense and Veterans, headed by a civilian. The military is underpaid, poorly equipped, and in need of rationalization.

Main article: Economy of Mali

Market scene in Kati

Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world. The average worker's annual salary is approximately US$1,500. Between 1992 and 1995, Mali implemented an economic adjustment program that resulted in economic growth and a reduction in financial imbalances. The program increased social and economic conditions(Sony VAIO VGN-AW31XY/Q battery), and led to Mali joining the World Trade Organization on 31 May 1995. The gross domestic product (GDP) has risen since. In 2002, the GDP amounted to US$3.4 billion, and increased to US$5.8 billion in 2005,[46] which amounts to an approximately 17.6% annual growth rate.

Mali's key industry is agriculture. Cotton is the country's largest crop export and is exported west throughout Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF/H battery). During 2002, 620,000 tons of cotton were produced in Mali but cotton prices declined significantly in 2003. In addition to cotton, Mali produces rice, millet, corn, vegetables, tobacco, and tree crops. Gold, livestock and agriculture amount to eighty percent of Mali's exports. Eighty percent of Malian workers are employed in agriculture while fifteen percent work in the service sector. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW41JF battery) However, seasonal variations lead to regular temporary unemployment of agricultural workers. Mali's resource in livestock consists of millions of cattle, sheep, and goats. Approximately 40% of Mali's herds were lost during the Sahel drought in 1972–74.

Cotton processing at CMDT.

In 1991, with the assistance of the International Development Association, Mali relaxed the enforcement of mining codes which led to renewed foreign interest and investment in the mining industry(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF/H battery). Gold is mined in the southern region and Mali has the third highest gold production in Africa (after South Africa and Ghana). The emergence of gold as Mali's leading export product since 1999 has helped mitigate some of the negative impact of the cotton and Côte d'Ivoire crises. Other natural resources include kaolin, salt, phosphate, and limestone(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41MF battery).

Electricity and water are maintained by the Energie du Mali, or EDM, and textiles are generated by Industry Textile du Mali, or ITEMA. Mali has made efficient use of hydroelectricity, consisting of over half of Mali's electrical power. In 2002, 700 GWh of hydroelectric power were produced in Mali(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH/Q battery).

The Malian government participates in foreign involvement, concerning commerce and privatization. Mali underwent economic reform, beginning in 1988 by signing agreements with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. During 1988 to 1996, Mali's government largely reformed public enterprises. Since the agreement, sixteen enterprises were privatized, twelve partially privatized, and twenty liquidated. (Sony VAIO VGN-AW41XH battery) In 2005, the Malian government conceded a railroad company to the Savage Corporation.[46] Two major companies, Societé de Telecommunications du Mali (SOTELMA) and the Cotton Ginning Company (CMDT), were expected to be privatized in 2008.[46]

Mali is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA).

A Bozo girl in Bamako(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF/B battery)

Main article: Demographics of Mali

See also: List of cities in Mali

In July 2009, Mali's population was an estimated 14.5 million. The population is predominantly rural (68% in 2002), and 5–10% of Malians are nomadic.[56] More than 90% of the population lives in the southern part of the country, especially in Bamako, which has over 1 million residents.

In 2007, about 48% of Malians were less than fifteen years old, 49% were 15–64 years old, and 3% were 65 and older. The median age was 15.9 years(Sony VAIO VGN-AW41ZF battery). The birth rate in 2012 was 45.2 births per 1,000, and the total fertility rate was 6.4 children per woman. The death rate in 2007 was 16.5 deaths per 1,000. Life expectancy at birth was 49.5 years total (47.6 for males and 51.5 for females). Mali has one of the world's highest rates of infant mortality,[56] with 106 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007(SONY Vaio VGN-NS38M Battery).

Mali's population encompasses a number of sub-Saharan ethnic groups, most of which have historical, cultural, linguistic, and religious commonalities.[56] The Bambara (Bambara: Bamanankaw) are by far the largest single ethnic group, making up 36.5% of the population.[56] Collectively, the Bambara, Soninké, Khassonké, and Malinké(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31S Battery), all part of the broader Mandé group, constitute 50% of Mali's population. Other significant groups are the Fula (French: Peul; Fula: Fulɓe) (17%), Voltaic (12%), Songhai (6%), and Tuareg and Moor (10%).Mali historically has enjoyed reasonably good inter-ethnic relations; however, some hereditary servitude relationships exist, as do ethnic tensions between the Songhai and the Tuareg.[56] Over the past 40 years, persistent drought has forced many Tuareg to give up their nomadic way of life. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS31M Battery)

Mali's official language is French, but numerous (40 or more) African languages also are widely used by the various ethnic groups.[56] About 80% of Mali's population can communicate in Bambara, which is the country's principal lingua franca and marketplace language.[56]

Islam came to west Africa in the 11th century and remains the predominant religion in most countries in that region(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31Z Battery). An estimated 90% of Malians are Muslim (mostly Sunni and Sufi), approximately 5% are Christian (about two-thirds Roman Catholic and one-third Protestant) and the remaining 5% adhere to indigenous or traditional animist beliefs.[60] Atheism and agnosticism are believed to be rare among Malians, most of whom practice their religion on a daily basis. Islam as practiced in Mali is moderate(SONY Vaio VGN-NS21Z Battery), tolerant, and adapted to local conditions; relations between Muslims and practitioners of minority religious faiths are generally amicable. The constitution establishes a secular state and provides for freedom of religion, and the government largely respects this right.

Health and education

Main articles: Health in Mali and Education in Mali

Mali faces numerous health challenges related to poverty, malnutrition, and inadequate hygiene and sanitation. Mali's health and development indicators rank among the worst in the world.[61] Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 53.06 years in 2012. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS21M Battery) In 2000, only 62–65 percent of the population was estimated to have access to safe drinking water and only 69 percent to sanitation services of some kind. In 2001, the general government expenditures on health totaled about US$4 per capita at an average exchange rate. Medical facilities in Mali are very limited, and medicines are in short supply.[63] Malaria and other arthropod-borne diseases are prevalent in Mali(SONY Vaio VGN-NS21S Battery), as are a number of infectious diseases such as cholera and tuberculosis.[63] Mali's population also suffers from a high rate of child malnutrition and a low rate of immunization.[63] An estimated 1.9 percent of the adult and children population was afflicted with HIV/AIDS that year, among the lowest rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS12S Battery)

High school students in Kati, Mali

Public education in Mali is in principle provided free of charge and is compulsory for nine years between the ages of seven and sixteen.[61] The system encompasses six years of primary education beginning at age seven, followed by six years of secondary education. However, Mali's actual primary school enrollment rate is low, in large part because families are unable to cover the cost of uniforms, books, supplies, and other fees required to attend. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS12M Battery) In the 2000–01 school year, the primary school enrollment rate was 61% (71% of males and 51% of females); in the late 1990s, the secondary school enrollment rate was 15% percent (20% of males and 10% of females). The education system is plagued by a lack of schools in rural areas, as well as shortages of teachers and materials. Estimates of literacy rates in Mali range from 27–30% to 46.4%, with literacy rates significantly lower among women than men(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11Z Battery).

According to the World Health Organization in 2001 an estimated 91.6% of Mali's girls and women have had some form of female genital cutting performed on them.[64]

Main article: Culture of Mali

Griots of Sambala, king of Médina (Fula people, Mali), 1890.

Malian musical traditions are derived from the griots, who are known as "Keepers of Memories".[65] Malian music is diverse and has several different genres. Some famous Malian influences in music are kora virtouso musician Toumani Diabaté(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11M Battery), the late roots and blues guitarist Ali Farka Touré, the Tuareg band Tinariwen, and several Afro-pop artists such as Salif Keita, the duo Amadou et Mariam, Oumou Sangare, and Habib Koité. The Dance of Mali includes many different dancing styles. As well as the music telling a story through sound, the Malian dance shows a story through series' of movements. There are dances for weddings(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11L Battery), funerals, marriages, hunting, war, celebration, etc. Malian music and dance also tells about the major events in Mali's history, but as well as the day to day lives of its people.

Malian musical duo Amadou & Mariam are known internationally for their music combining Malian and international influences.

Though Mali's literature is less famous than its music, Mali has always been one of Africa's liveliest intellectual centers. Mali's literary tradition is passed mainly by word of mouth, with jalis reciting or singing histories and stories known by heart(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11J Battery). Amadou Hampâté Bâ, Mali's best-known historian, spent much of his life writing these oral traditions down for the world to remember. The best-known novel by a Malian writer is Yambo Ouologuem's Le devoir de violence, which won the 1968 Prix Renaudot but whose legacy was marred by accusations of plagiarism(SONY Vaio VGN-NS11E Battery). Other well-known Malian writers include Baba Traoré, Modibo Sounkalo Keita, Massa Makan Diabaté, Moussa Konaté, and Fily Dabo Sissoko.

The varied everyday culture of Malians reflects the country's ethnic and geographic diversity. Most Malians wear flowing, colorful robes called boubous that are typical of West Africa. Malians frequently participate in traditional festivals, dances, and ceremonies. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS10L Battery) Rice and millet are the staples of Malian cuisine, which is heavily based on cereal grains. Grains are generally prepared with sauces made from leaves such spinach or baobab leaves, with tomato, or with peanut sauce, and may be accompanied by pieces of grilled meat (typically chicken, mutton, beef, or goat). Malian cuisine varies regionally(SONY Vaio VGN-NS10J Battery).

Malian children playing football (soccer) in a Dogon village.

A football stadium in Bamako.

The most popular sport in Mali is football (soccer), which became more prominent after Mali hosted the 2002 African Cup of Nations. Most towns have regular games; the most popular teams nationally are Djoliba AC, Stade Malien, and Real Bamako, all based in the capital.[73] Informal games are often played by youths using a bundle of rags as a ball. (SONY Vaio VGN-NS10E Battery)

The country has produced notable players for French teams, including Salif Keita and Jean Tigana. Frédéric "Fredi" Kanouté, named 2007 African Footballer of the Year, currently plays for Beijing Guoan in the Chinese Super League whilst previously playing for Sevilla FC in Spain's La Liga. Mahamadou Diarra, the captain of the Mali national team, played for Real Madrid for four seasons before moving to AS Monaco FC(SONY Vaio VGN-NS38M/W Battery) and then Fulham. Seydou Keita played for FC Barcelona for four seasons before joing Kanouté in the CSL with Dalian Aerbin. Other notable players currently on European squads include, Mamady Sidibe (Stoke City), Mohammed Sissoko (Paris Saint-Germain), Adama Coulibaly (AJ Auxerre), Jimmy Kebe (Reading F.C.), Dramane Traoré (Metalurh Donetsk), Garra Dembélé (SC Freiburg), and others(SONY Vaio VGN-NS38M/P Battery).

Basketball is another major sport; the Mali women's national basketball team, led by Hamchetou Maiga, competed at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.[76]

Traditional wrestling (la lutte) is also somewhat common, though popularity has declined in recent years.[74] The game wari, a mancala variant, is a common pastime(SONY Vaio VGN-NS31Z/S Battery).

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