Mali gained its independence from France in 1960, and French is still its official language. Mali is among the poorest countries in the world with its economy dependent on gold mining and agriculture.
About 80 per cent of the labour force is agrarian, but agricultural revenues are volatile. Mali therefore remains dependent on foreign aid. Mali is developing its iron ore industry to diversify its exports away from gold. Insecurity, weak infrastructure, and an under-skilled workforce remain the main barriers to attracting foreign investment and achieving economic growth.
In northern Mali, Tuareg ethnic militias rebelled in January 2012 and two months later an army coup overthrew President Touré. The rebels expelled the Malian military from the three northern regions. This enabled Islamic militants to establish strongholds in the country’s north.
The United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) was established in 2013. After some progress in 2013, the security situation in Mali has deteriorated, and a series of military coups have set back the path to democratic governance.
Mali is a member of La Francophonie, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States.
Australia's diplomatic representation to Mali is from the High Commission in Accra, Ghana.
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