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THE REPUBLIC OF Mali is located in western Africa, covering 478,767 sq. mi. (1,240,000 sq. km.), equivalent to an area twice the size of Texas. Mali has a population of 12,291,529 people (2005 est.) with about 80 percent of the labor force engaged in agricultural production and processing. Mali is among the poorest countries in the world, with a per capita gross domestic product of $900 (2004 est.). 64 percent of the population lives in poverty. Significant agricultural products include cotton, cereal crops, vegetables, peanuts, and livestock. Three geographic and meteorological zones characterize Mali: Saharan (desert/arid), Sahelian (shrub savanna/subtropical); and Sudanese (wooded savanna/tropical). Likewise, there are three distinct seasons: hot and dry (March to May); rainy (June to October); and cool and dry (November to ...

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