Therepublicof mali is completely landlocked and lies in the center of the West African landmass. This nation of 1,240,000 square kilometers is the largest in terms of surface area in West Africa. Mali's 10.7 million people comprise 10 ethnic groups of which the Mande groups (Bambara, Malinke, and Soninka) are the most numerous (50 percent). The country is composed of three major climatic zones: a vast desert region in the north, a Sahelian band through the middle of the country, and a Sudanian zone in the south.

About 65 percent of Mali's land area is considered desert or semi-desert. Average rainfall in the desert region ranges from 0 to 350 millimeters, in the Sahel region from 350 to 600 millimeters, and in the Sudanean region from ...

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