Information About Languages in Mali, Africa

Information About Languages in Mali, Africa
The Republic of Mali is located in West Africa, in the region south of the Sahara Desert called the Sahel.


Some 13,443,225 people live in Mali, according to a July, 2009, estimate. The biggest ethnic group--33 percent of the population--consists of the Bambara people. Other ethnic groups: Fulani with 10 percent, Senoufo about 9 percent, Songhay 7 percent, Malinke with 6 percent, Tuareg 5 percent, and Dogon 4 percent.

Official Language

Mali's official language, French, is a reflection of its former colonial status, and serves as the language of the government and schools. Mali gained independence in 1960.

Vernacular Language

The Bambara language is the most extensively spoken language in Mali, understood by 80 percent of the population, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook.

National Languages

Mali recognizes 12 national languages in addition to French and Bambara, according to the Mali Travel Diaries website. They are Bomu, Tieyaxo Bozo, Toro So Dogon, Maasina Fulfulde, Hasanya Arabic, Mamara Senoufo, Kita Maninkakan, Soninke, Koyraboro Senni Songhay, Syenara Senoufo, Tamasheq and Xaasongaxango.

Other Languages

Numerous other indigenous languages and dialects are represented among Mali's diverse population, some spoken in only a handful of villages or by as few as 100 speakers.

Article Written By Gwen Bruno

Gwen Bruno has been a full-time freelance writer since 2009, with her gardening-related articles appearing on DavesGarden. She is a former teacher and librarian, and she holds a bachelor's degree in education from Augustana College and master's degrees in education and library science from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin.

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