Mali gained its independence from France in 1960, and French is still its official language. In 2007, Amadou Toumani Touré was elected to a second presidential term. However, 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 there and start advancing south towards Mali's capital Bamako.
In January 2013, at the request of Mali's interim government, France intervened militarily in the conflict. In addition, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) deployed the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA) to assist efforts to re-establish Mali's territorial integrity.
In July 2013, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) took over from AFISMA. In the same year, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta won Mali's presidential election, and was re-elected for a second five year term in 2018. After significant progress in 2013, the security situation in Mali deteriorated. In June 2015, the Government of Mali and the northern armed groups signed a peace agreement (Algiers Accord), but significant terrorist and other security threats remain.
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.
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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