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Mali, officially the Republic of Mali is a landlocked nation in Western Africa. It is the seventh largest country of Africa. It borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its straight borders on the north stretch into the centre of the Sahara, while the country's south, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Senegal rivers. Formerly French Sudan, the country is named after the Empire of Mali. The name of the country comes from the Bambara word for hippopotamus (with the animal appearing on the 5 franc coin), the name of its capital city, Bamako comes from the Bambara word meaning "place of crocodiles".
The Mandé peoples settled the Sahel (including present-day Mali), and formed a succession of Sahelian kingdoms, including the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire, and the Songhai Empire. Timbuktu was a key city in these empires as an outpost for trans-Saharan trade and a center for scholarship. The Songhai Empire declined under a Moroccan invasion in 1591.
Mali was invaded by France starting in 1880, which organised it as an overseas territory. The colony, which at times also included neighbouring countries, was known as French Sudan or the Sudanese Republic. In early 1959, the union of Mali and Senegal became the Mali Federation, which gained independence from France on June 20, 1960. Senegal withdrew from the Mali Federation after a few months. The Republic of Mali withdrew from the French Community on September 22, 1960.
Sources: Wikipedia and CIA World Factbook
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