Mali’s official language may be French, but 80 percent of its people speak Bambara, the native tongue of over half the population.
As a French Monetary Area nation, Mali uses the CFA (Communauté Financière Africaine) franc (XOF), whose value is tied to the euro. Only Banque des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (Bank of West African States) currency is accepted in Mali, not Banque des Etats de l’Afrique Centrale (Bank of Central African States) currency. A handful of Mali’s restaurants, banks, hotels and businesses accept credit cards and Visa is your best bet. Bamako is the easiest place to exchange travelers’ checks and foreign currency.
Mali falls in the Greenwich Mean Time Zone, but does not observe Daylight Savings Time.
Mali’s electricity comes at 220 volts which alternate at 50 cycles each second and uses plugs with two round pins. Voltage converters and adaptors are necessary for visitors from nations with different electrical requirements.
Mali’s dialing code is +223, but the country’s domestic telephone system provides only minimal service. There are about 869,000 cell phones in Mali which has only 75,000 landlines, 45,000 televisions and 30,000 internet users. Ikatel and Malitel are the nation’s main cell phone providers. Although the United Nations ranks Mali 123 out of 125 in terms of national internet usage, access is nonetheless available. Bamako has the majority of Mali’s internet cafés, most of which provide wireless or dial-up connectivity.
A reasonable amount of perfume for personal use and two bottles of alcohol can be brought into Mali without incurring customs. The same is true for up to 250 cigars, 1,000 cigarettes or two kilograms of tobacco. Some Niger River Valley archaeological objects cannot be taken out of the country without prior permission from the National Museum of Mali.
Office Malien du tourisme et de l’Hotellerie (OMATHO), Bamako: +223 222 56 73 or http://www.le-mali.com/omatho/index.htm.
Embassies in Mali
US Embassy, Bamako: +223-22-54-70
Canadian Embassy, Bamako: +223-221-22-36
French Embassy, Bamako: +223-497-57-57
South African Embassy, Bamako: +223-229 2925
German Embassy, Bamako: +223-2-22-32-99
Senegalese Embassy, Bamako: +223-222-8274
Dutch Embassy, Bamako: +223-221-5611