1. Mali is the biggest country in West Africa. It is roughly twice the size of Texas, the second largest American state.

2. Mali was the cradle of the Empire of Ghana, West Africa’s very first black empire.

3. When Mansa Musa, emperor of the Malian Empire in the early 1300s, made his Mecca pilgrimage, he made Mali famous by bringing with him 12,000 slaves, 60,000 men, 80 camels that each carried between 50 and 30 pounds of gold, and building a mosque every Friday during his journey.

4. Mansa Musa left so much gold to the people along his way, he inadvertently caused inflation in the regions he passed.

5. Today, however, Mali is one of the poorest nations in the world. Around 70% of Mali’s population earns less than a dollar per day.

6. Less than 10% of Malians earn more than $2 a day.

7. The bogolanfini cloth, which is made from handcrafted cloth dyed with mud, is produced only in this part of Africa.

8. The prime meridian marker is located in Gao, Mali, where one can literally stand on the edge of two hemispheres.

9. The circumcision of a child is a cause for public celebration in Bamako, Mali.

10. Mali’s Great Mosque of Djenne is the largest mudbrick building in the world.

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