Bamako: Wikis


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—  Capital City and Cercle  —
View of Bamako
Bamako on the Niger River
Bamako is located in Mali
Bamako on the Niger River
Coordinates: 12°39′N 8°0′W / 12.65°N 8°W / 12.65; -8
Country  Mali
Region Bamako Capital District
Cercle Bamako
 - Type Capitol District
 - Marie du District Adama Sangaré[4]
 - Total 97.3 sq mi (252 km2)
Elevation [5] 1,148 ft (350 m)
Population (1 April 2009)(Census, provisional)
 - Total 1,809,106
Time zone Coordinated Universal Time (UTC-0)

Bamako, population 1,809,106 (2009 Census, provisional), is the capital and largest city of Mali, and currently estimated to be the fastest growing city in Africa (sixth fastest in the world)[6]. It is located on the Niger River, near the rapids that divide the Upper and Middle Niger Valleys, in the southwestern part of the country. Bamako is the nation's administrative center as well as a cercle, with a river port located in nearby Koulikoro, and a major regional trade and conference center. Bamako is the seventh largest West African urban center after Lagos, Abidjan, Kano, Ibadan, Dakar and Accra. Manufactures include textiles, processed meat, and metal goods. There is commercial fishing on the Niger River. Bamako is located at 12°39′N 8°0′W / 12.65°N 8°W / 12.65; -8.[7] The name Bamako comes from the Bambara word meaning "crocodile river".[8]



The area of the city has been continuously inhabited since the Palaeolithic era for more than 150,000 years. The fertile lands of the Niger River Valley provided the people with an abundant food supply and early kingdoms in the area grew wealthy as they established trade routes linking across west Africa the Sahara and leading to northern Africa and Europe. The early inhabitants traded gold, ivory, kola nuts and salt.[9] By the 11th century the Empire of Ghana became the first kingdom to dominate the area. Bamako had become a major market town, and a centre for Islamic scholars, with the establishment of two universities and numerous mosques in medieval times.[9]

The Mali Empire grew during the early Middle Ages and replaced Ghana as the dominant kingdom in west Africa, dominating Senegal, Gambia, Guinea and Mauritania.[9] In 14th century the Mali Empire became increasingly wealthy because of the trade of cotton and salt. This was eventually succeeded by the Songhai Empire and in the 16th century Berber invaders from Morocco destroyed what remained of the kingdoms in Mali and trans-Saharan trade was taken over by sailors.[9]

French Fort of Bammakou 1883

By the late 19th century, the French dominated much of western Africa, and in 1883, present-day Mali became part of the colony of French Sudan, and was its capital in 1908. Cotton and rice farming was encouraged through large irrigation projects and a new railroad connected Mali to Dakar on the Atlantic coast.[9] Mali was annexed then into French West Africa, a federation which lasted from 1895 to 1959.[9]

Mali gained independence from France in April 1960, and the Republic of Mali was later established. At this time Bamako had a population of around 160,000. During the 1960s the country became socialist and Bamako was subject to Soviet investment and influence.[9] However, the economy declined as state enterprises collapsed and unrest was widespread.[9] Eventually Moussa Traoré led a successful coup and ruled Mali 23 years. However his rule was characterised by severe droughts and poor government management and problems of food shortages.[9]

In the late 1980s the people of Bamako and Mali campaigned for a free market economy and multiparty democracy. In 1990, the National Congress for Democratic Initiative (Congrès National d’Initiative démocratique, CNID) was set up by the lawyer Mountaga Tall, and the Alliance for Democracy in Mali (Alliance pour la démocratie au Mali, ADEMA) by Abdramane Baba and historian Alpha Oumar Konaré. These with the Association des élèves et étudiants du Mali (AEEM) and the Association Malienne des Droits de l'Homme (AMDH) aimed to oust Moussa Traoré. Under the old constitution, all labor unions had to belong to one confederation, the National Union of Malian Workers (UNTM). When the leadership of the UNTM broke from the government in 1990, the opposition grew. Groups were driven by paycuts and layoffs in the government sector, and the Malian government acceding to pressure from international donors to privatise large swathes of the economy that had remained in public hands even after the overthrow of the socialist government in 1968. Students, even children, played an increasing role in the protest marches in Bamako, and homes and businesses of those associated with the regime were ransacked by crowds.

On 22 March 1991 a large-scale protest march in central Bamako was violently suppressed, with estimates of those killed reaching 300. Four days later a military coup deposed Traoré. The Comité de Transition pour le Salut du Peuple was set up, headed by General Amadou Toumani Touré.[10] Alpha Oumar Konari officially became president on April 26, 1992.[9]


The Cercle of Bamako

Bamako is situated on the Niger River floodplain, which hampers development along the riverfront and the Niger's tributaries. Bamako is relatively flat, except to the immediate north where there is an escarpment, being what remains of an extinct volcano. The Presidential Palace and main hospital are located here.

Pont des Martyrs

Originally, the city developed on the northern side of the river, but as it grew, bridges were developed to connect the north with the south. The first of these was the Pont des Martyrs (2-lane with 2 pedestrian sections) and the King Fahd Bridge (4-lane with 2 motorcycle and 2 pedestrian sections). Additionally, there is a seasonal causeway between the eastern neighborhoods of Sotuba and Misabugu inherited from colonial times (alternated traffic on 1-lane with 5 crossing sections). The Sotuba Causeway ( "Chaussée submersible de Sotuba" in French, and "Babilikoroni" in Bamanankan) is typically under water from July to January. A third bridge (1.4 km long, 24 m large, 4-lane with 2 motorcycle and 2 pedestrian sections) is being built at the same location [11] to reduce downtown congestion, notably by trucks.


Bamako has a hot and humid Sahelian climate and is very hot on average all year round. The average temperature highs of every month is over 30 degrees celsius, with the warmest months being March, April and May where the temperature reaches an average of 39 celsisus. Record highs of 46 degrees celsius have been recorded in the month of May. The coolest months are November to February which can experience average lows of 16 to 19 degrees celsius but the temperature may fluctuate greatly with highs of 36 celsius being recorded in February for instance. During the winter rainfall is all very scarce, with little rain from October to April which may lead to drought between December and February. The rainy season occurs in the summer in Bamako with the peak rainfall occurring between July and September.

Weather data for Bamako
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 42
Average high °C (°F) 33
Average low °C (°F) 16
Record low °C (°F) 9
Precipitation mm (inches) 0
Source: BBC Weather [12] 2009-08-15


View of Bamako
Sotramas in Bamako
Avenue Al Qoods in central Bamako

The District of Bamako has been divided into six communes since Ordinance No. 78-34/CNLM of August 18, 1978, and amended by a law in February 1982 establishing the new boundaries of Communes III and IV.[13] Each commune is administered by the municipal council and a mayor elected from among its members. The last elections were held on April 26, 2009 and the Alliance for Democracy in Mali hold the majority of representatives for the communes.


Communes and neighborhoods

Commune I has a population of 256,216 people and covers an area of 34.26 km². It is bounded to the north by the rural commune of Djalakorodji (Kati Cercle), west by the Commune II, north-east by the rural commune of Sangarébougou (Kati Cercle), on the east by the rural commune of Gabakourou and south by the Niger River. Nine neighborhoods comprise this commune: Banconi, Boulkassombougou, Djelibougou, Doumanzana Fadjiguila, Sotuba Korofina North and South Korofina Sikoroni [14].

Commune II has a population of 160,680 people and covers an area of 23 km². It is bounded to the east by the backwater of Korofina at the west foot of the Point G hill, and to the south by Niger River. The municipality has eleven neighborhoods: Niaréla (the oldest), Bagadadji, Medina-Coura, Bozola, Missira, Hippodrome, Quinzambougou, Bakaribougou, TSF, Industrial Area and Bougouba. The area is the most important in the industry sector in Bamako.[15].

Commune III has a population of 119,287 people and covers an area of 23 km². It is bounded on the north by the Kati, east by the Boulevard du Peuple, which separates it from the Commune II, south by the portion of the Niger River, between the Pont des Martyrs and the Motel de Bamako, and west by theFarako River and Avenue Cheick Zayed El Mahyan Ben Sultan with the neighborhood of ACI-2000. Commune III is the administrative and commercial center of Bamako. It accommodates in particular the two largest markets in the capital, the Grand Market and Didida. Twenty neighborhoods make up this commune and the villages pf Koulouninko and Sirakorodounfing were attached to the Commune III.[16]

Commune IV has a population of 200,000 people (2001) and covers an area of 36.768 km². It is bounded to the east by Commune III, north, west by Kati Cercle and south by the left bank of the Niger River. Commune IV consists of eight neighborhoods: Taliko, Lassa, Sibiribougou, Djikoroni Para, Sébénikoro, Hamdallaye, Lafiabougou and Kalabambougou.[17]

Commune V has a population of 249,727 people and covers an area of 41 km².[18]. It is bounded to the north by the Niger River, south by the airport and the town of Coro-Kalanban, and to the east by the Commune VI and Niger. It consists of eight neighborhoods: Badalabougou, Sema I, Quartier Mali, Torokorobougou, Baco-Djicoroni, Sabalibougou, Daoudabougou and Kalaban-Coura.

Commune VI has a population of 600,000 people and covers an area of 88.82 km². This is the largest of the communes that make up Bamako. It consists of ten neighborhoods: Banankabougou, Djanékéla, Faladié, Magnambougou, Missabougou, Niamakoro, Sénou, Sogoniko, Sokorodji and Yrimadio [20].

Bamako contains the following neighborhoods (quartiers): ACI-2000, Badalabugu, Bajalan I, Bajalan II, Bako Jikoroni, Bagadaji, Bamako Kura, Bankoni, Bolibana, Bozola, Bugudani, Bulkasumbugu, Dar Salam,N'tomikorobougou, Dawdabugu, Dravela, Fajigila, Falaje, Garantigibugu, Jalakoroji, Janekela, Janjigila, Jelibugu, Jikoroni Para, Jumanzana, Hamdallaye, Hippodrome, Kalaban Koro, Kalaban Kura, Korofina, Kuluba, Kulubleni, Lafiabugu, Madina Kura,Magnambugu (Magnambugu Faso Kanu), Misabugu, Misira, Niarela, Ntomikorobugu, Point G, Quartier du Fleuve, Quartier Mali, Quinzanbugu, Sabalibugu I, Sabalibugu II, Safo, Same, Sangarebugu, Saranbugu, Sebeninkoro, Sikoroni, Sirakoro, Senu, Sibiribugu, Sokoniko, Sokoroji, Sotuba, Titibugu, Torokorobugu, TSF-Sans Fil, Wolofobugu, Yirimanjo, Zone Industrielle


Bamako civilians

The population growth has been staggering. In 1884 it had only 2500 inhabitants, 8000 in 1908, 37,000 in 1945 and 100,000 in 1960. Today the population is at least 18 times the size of what it was in 1960 with over 1,800,000 recorded at the 2009 Census, and continues to attract a rural population in search of work. Including illegal squatters and temporary workers some experts believe the population today is well over 2 million. This uncontrolled growth causes significant difficulties in terms of traffic, sanitation (access to safe water, sanitation), pollution. Bamako became the crossroads of West Africa and hosts a diverse population, composed of different ethnic groups in Mali but also from neighboring countries.




The traditional commercial centre of Bamako was located to the north of the river, and contained within a triangle bounded by Avenue du Fleuve, Rue Baba Diarra and Boulevard du Peuple. This area contains the Marché Rose and Street Market.

Salt for sale at Bamako's Grand Market. Salt has been traded since early times in the city

The downtown area is highly congested, polluted, and expensive, and urbanization is sprawling at a rapid pace within a radius of 30 km. The largest urbanized area now lies on the southern bank of the Niger River. A modern Central Business District is rapidly developing immediately west of the downtown area in the ACI-2000 district, taking advantage of a well-designed geometric layout, legacy of the old airport runways and taxiways. A large administrative area is being developed at the junction between ACI-2000 and the King Fadh Bridge, containing most of the state departments (ministries) and administrative services in a central location. Bamako is also the headquarters of many large companies and administrative institutions including Air Mali (formerly Compagnie Aérienne du Mali) has its head office in Bamako.[19] Bamako received much investment by Saudi Arabia for decades which saw a number of important structures being built. In recent years, China has become an important investor in Bamako, developing its infrastructure and facilities.

Cattle crossing a road in Bamako

Agriculture is active in Bamako, with the presence of Bozo fisherman and it is common to see cattle crossing the streets. However, the most important by far is the manufacturing and service sector. The District of Bamako concentrates 70% of industrial activity.[20] The service sector is the most developed, and the city thrives in crafts and trade.


A music boom in Bamako took off in the 1990s , when the vocalist Salif Keita and the singer-guitarist Ali Farka Touré achieved international fame.[21] It attracted a number of tourists, record producers and aspiring musicians to the city to try to follow in their footsteps. It is common to see musicians in the streets with djembes and percussion bands playing traditional Bamana rhythms. The range of ethnicities involved in Bamako's music scene are diverse, including singers and instrumentalists from Mali's myriad tribes; the Tuaregs of the Sahara, the Sorhai of Timbuktu, the Malinkes from the border region south of Bamako, the Dogon cliff dwellers, the Wassalous near the Ivory Coast, the Peuls of central Mali etc.[21] Bars and nightclubs have grown rapidly including Mr. Keita's Mofu and Oumou Sangare's Hotel Wassulu which featured Malian and other west African artists. Notable western artists such as Robert Plant, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker and the French Basque star Manu Chao have all visited Bamako to jam and record with notable local musicians.[21]


Much of the electricity, is generated from the hydroelectric Sélingué Dam. The drinking water supply in Bamako and Kati is also ensured by a pumping station on the Niger River. However, the capacity of 135,000 m³ to provide drinking water per day is insufficient for the needs estimated at 152,000 m³ during the hot season between April and June. During this period, frequent water shortages are experienced. A new pumping station is to open to Kabala in 2009.


The National Library of Mali was first created by the Institut Français d’Afrique Noire, an arm of the French colonial government, in 1944. Following Mali's 1960 independence, this library became the Government Library; it would later be renamed again as the National Library of Mali. In 1968 the library was transferred from its initial home in Koulouba to Ouolofobougou, a section of Bamako. The library holds more than 60,000 works, including books, periodicals, audio documents, videos, and software. These materials are available free to the public, though a small subscription fee is required for borrowing privileges. The library also hosts some of the exhibits for African Photography Encounters, a biannual Bamako photography festival.

The Bamako Grand Mosque is located in the city centre of Bamako, situated north of the Niger River near the central Market (Grand Marche) and the colonial era Bamako Cathedral. It is one of the tallest structures in Bamako. Built on the site of a pre-colonial mud-brick mosque, the current mosque was built through funding from the Saudi Arabian government at the end of the 1970s.With its tall cement Minarets built around a square central structure, the building is stylistically closer to Saudi religious structures than West African.[22] T mosque is visible from much of the city and occasionally is opened to tourists.

BCEAO tower

The BCEAO Tower at 20 storeys is the tallest building in the West African nations. It sits of the north ("right") bank of the River Niger in the city centre of Bamako.[23] The BCEAO Tower is the Malian headquarters of the Central Bank of West African States, which provides development banking and government financial and currency services in several Francophone West African nations. Classified as Neo-Sudanic architecture, it is modeled on the Sudano-Sahelian architecture of the famous mosques of Djenne and Timbuktu. The building is located in the busy Commune III neighbourhood, where "Avenue Moussa Tavele" meets the waterside boulevard between the two main Bamako bridges : King Fahd Bridge a block west and Martyrs Bridge three blocks east. Just to the east of the BCEAO complex, a park and formal garden marks where the diagonally running "Boulevard du Peuple" reaches the river. By contrast, small market gardens and launching points or river canoes lie along the river front.[23] With the Hotel de l'Amitié and the Bamako Grand Mosque, the BCEAO Tower is one of three landmarks visible across most of the city.[23] Also of note is the Bamako Cathedral.

The National Museum of Mali buildings, designed by architect Jean-Loup Pivin.
Bamako Cathedral

The National Museum of Mali is an archeological and anthropological museum, presenting permanent and temporary exhibits on the prehistory of Mali, as well as the musical instruments, dress, and ritual objects associated with Mali's various ethnic groups. The National Museum began under French rule as the Sudanese Museum, part of the Institut Français d’Afrique Noire (IFAN) under Théodore Monod. It was opened on February 14, 1953, under the direction of Ukrainian archeologist Y. Shumowskyi. Archaeologist Y. Shumovskyi had worked in the museum for nine years, gathering the half (nearly 3000 findings) of today's founds.

With the independence of the Republic of Mali in 1960, the Sudanese Museum became the National Museum of Mali, with the new objectives of promoting national unity and celebrating Malian traditional culture. However, lack of financial means and absence of qualified personnel caused some deterioration in the museum's collections. On March 30, 1956, the National Museum moved into a new cemented structure, created by architect Jean-Loup Pivin from traditional Mayan designs. Since the 1996 election of former archaeologist Alpha Oumar Konaré to Mali's presidency, the museum's funding has increased considerably, becoming among the best in West Africa. The museum often hosts part of the biannual African Photography Encounters, photography festival held in Bamako since 1994.

Also of note is the Muso Kunda Museum, the Bamako Regional Museum, Bamako Zoo, the Bamako Botanical Gardens, the National Conference Center Tower (NCC), the Souvenir Pyramid, the Independence Monument, Al Quoods Monument, the triangular Monument de la paix, the Hamdallaye obelisk, the Modibo Keita Memorial and many other monuments, the Palais de la Culture Amadou Hampaté Ba and the Point G hill, containing caves with rock paintings.

In 1988, Bamako was the location of a WHO conference known as the Bamako Initiative that helped reshape health policy of Sub-Saharan Africa. The yearly held Budapest-Bamako rally has the endpoint in Bamako, with the Dakar Rally often passing through Bamako.


Looking north from Pont Des Martyrs. Kuluba hill is in the background.
Taxi vans
Bamako en construction.JPG

The Dakar-Niger Railway links Bamako to Dakar via Kati, Négala, Kita and Kayes. The road network links Bamako to Koulikoro, Kati, Kolokani, Ségou and Sikasso.

The Bamako-Sénou International Airport is located 15 km from the city and opened to passengers in 1974. Passenger traffic steadily increased in the early 2000s. Government figures revealed 403,380 passengers in 1999, 423,506 in 2003, 486,526 in 2004, and 516,000 in 2005. and is predicted to reach over 900,000 by 2015 under a low (4%) yearly growth rate scenario.[24] To date this growth rate has been surpassed. Total air traffic the airport increased by 12.4% in 2007 and 14% in 2008. Most of this increase came in passenger transport, with the number of passengers served increasing by 20% in 2007 and 17% in 2008. Twenty-seven airline carriers operated weekly or better at Bamako-Sénou International Airport in the 2007-2008 period. This continued growth was offset by cargo flights' decline of 16.75% in 2007, and 3.93% in 2008.[25] The highest frequency route is on the Bamako-Dakar sector with 29 weekly non-stop connections. Domestic flights also serve Mali's regional capitals Kayes, Mopti, Timbuktu, Sikasso, Gao, and Kidal. Bamako Senou International Airport is managed by Aéroports du Mali (ADM).[24] Its operations are overseen by the Malian Ministry of Equipment and Transports.[25]

Much of the transportation is either by the Niger River, or by paved roads linking Bamako to other major urban areas. Navigating the Niger River is possible from Koulikoro to Mopti and Gao. The bush taxi is one of the main modes of transport.

Bamako is situated on both sides of the river Niger River and two bridges connect the two banks: the Bridge of Martyrs completed in 1960 and renamed in memory of protesters killed in March 1991 by the regime of Moussa Traoré) and the King Fahd Bridge, named after the Saudi Arabian donor. A third bridge project is currently being funded by the People's Republic of China. Located in Sotuba area, it has the objective to decongest traffic in the city.[26]


The Point G hospital, built between 1906 and 1913, covers an area of 25. A former military hospital, it become a civilian hospital shortly before the independence of Mali, and is situated on a hill overlooking Bamako[27]

The second hospital of Bamako is the Gabriel Touré Hospital named for a young doctor and humanist Gabriel Touré born 1910 in Ouagadougou and died 1935 after having been contaminated by a patient with the lung fever.The hospital was established on January 17, 1959.[28].

The contract for the building of a new hospital in Bamako, to relieve pressure on the other hospital resources was signed on December 27, 2008. Located in the district of Yirimadio, the department will include a pediatric and obstetrics-gynecology facilities, a department of internal medicine, medical imagery facilities and hospital care with 150 beds to support the emergency services and intensive care. This hospital, like many recent developments in Bamako is financed and equipped with Chinese investment.[29].

In popular culture

Bamako has provided the backdrop or been the subject of books and films such as Bamako, directed by Abderrahmane Sissako. The film depicts a trial taking place in Bamako, amid the daily life that is going on in the city. In the midst of that trial, two sides argue whether the World Bank and IMF, or perhaps corruption, are guilty of the current financial state of many poverty-stricken African countries. The film was first released at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21, 2006 and in Manhattan by New Yorker Films on February 14, 2007 and was the recipient of the first Council of Europe Film Award (FACE) given at the Istanbul International Film Festival in April 2007.[30]

Notable people

Sister cities

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ Coupe du Maire du District : Le Stade reçoit son trophée. L'Essor, 24/09/2008
  5. ^
  6. ^ World's fastest growing cities and urban areas from 2006 to 2020, by
  7. ^ GEOnet Names Server (GNS), by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
  8. ^ SUDANESE IMPOSE SENEGAL BOYCOTT; Traders Told to Use Port in Ivory Coast -- Move Is Aimed at Dakar's Trade New York Times - September 3, 1960
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Bamako - History". Retrieved October 23, 2009.  
  10. ^ Patrick Manning. Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, 1880-1995: 1880-1995. Cambridge University Press (1998) ISBN 0521645190 pp.198-199
  11. ^ Construction du 3e Pont de Bamako : Maliens et Chinois d'accord sur les aspects techniques du projet
  12. ^ "Average Conditions Bamako, Mali". BBC Weather. Retrieved August 15, 2009.  
  13. ^ Ordonnance n° 78-34/CNLM du 18 août 1978, modifiée par une loi de février 1982 fixant les nouvelles limites des Communes III et IV, cité par Doussou Djiré, Commune IV : entre tradition et modernité, l'Essor, 24 avril 2009, [1]
  14. ^ S. Badiaga, Town I: 26 lists in contention, the Rise, April 24, 2009
  15. ^ S. Konate, Commune II: the cradle of Bamako, The Rise, April 24, 2009
  16. ^ A.M. Cissé, Commune III : dans un mouchoir de poche ?, l'Essor, 24 avril 2009, [2]
  17. ^ Doussou Djiré, Commune IV : entre tradition et modernité, l'Essor, 24 avril 2009, [3]
  18. ^ B. Doumbia, Commune V : La nécessité d’agir, L’Essor, 24 avril 2009
  19. ^ "Contact-us." Air Mali. Retrieved on 19 October 2009.
  20. ^ Industrial Census in 2006, provided the Council of Ministers of December 20, 2006.
  21. ^ a b c Hammer, Joshua (April 2, 2006). "The Siren Song of Mali". New York Times.  
  22. ^ Velton (2000) p.124
  23. ^ a b c Velton, Russ (2006). Mali. Chalfont St Peter, Bucks / Guilford, CT: Bradt UK / Globe Pequot Press. ISBN 9781841620770.  
  24. ^ a b Composante aéroport Bamako-Sénou, Proposition MCA-Mali (2006)
  25. ^ a b Air traffic at Bamako airport increases by 14% in 2008. PANA press. 2009-01-14
  26. ^ « Troisième pont de Bamako : le compte à rebours a commencé » , L'Essor, 19 Novembre 2007.
  27. ^ B. Doumbia, « Centenaire du Point G : Un siècle à la pointe des soins et une belle histoire », L'Essor, December 11, 2006.
  28. ^ B. Doumbia, Board of Directors of the Gabriel Toure hospital: the quality imperative, Lessor, February 26, 2009
  29. ^ B. Doumbia, Futur « Hôpital du Mali » : les travaux peuvent démarrer, l'Essor, 31 décembre 2008
  30. ^ "“Bamako”, winner of the first Council of Europe film award in Istanbul". Council of Europe. 14 April 2007. Retrieved 14 April 2009.  
  • Pascal James Imperato. Historical Dictionary of Mali. Scarecrow Press/ Metuchen. NJ - London (1986) ISBN 0810813696
  • Ross Velton. Mali: The Bradt Travel Guide. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot Press, 2000.

External links

Coordinates: 12°39′N 8°0′W / 12.65°N 8°W / 12.65; -8

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Bamako bridge crossing the Niger River
Bamako bridge crossing the Niger River

Bamako is the capital of Mali, located on the Niger river. With a population of around 1.7 million, it's the largest city in the country and one of the largest in West Africa.


Bamako has been continuously inhabited by humans since prehistoric times. In 1883 it was conquered by French troops, and in 1908 became the capital of French Sudan.

The city has only a few paved main roads (goudrons), the rest of the city's roads are unpaved, and get dusty during the dry season (November to May) and muddy during the rainy season, offering breeding grounds to malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

The city can be hard to navigate through due to the lack of road signs, the complicated layout of the streets and the one way system in the city. The roads are very crowded both with motor vehicles and motorcycles who appear to fill every available space possible. Traffic police are particularly vigilant and will sometimes appear to enforce very arbitrary traffic rules. They are usually on motorcycles as well so it is unwise to try and out run them in your vehicle as they will easily catch up.

Often the best way to navigate around the city is to hire a taxi-motorcycle to lead you to your destination. These are relatively cheap and depending on the distance can be as low as 100 cfa. There is no meter and price is negotiated upfront.

Unemployment rates are high.

Get in

By plane

Bamako-Sénou Airport is roughly 15km (30–40 minutes) from the city center, with flights from Paris on Point Afrique (cheap) and Air France (less cheap). Flights to Europe are also offered by Royal Air Maroc, via Casablanca -- the main drawback to this option is that the flight from BKO to Casablanca leaves at 3:35am. Taxi rides should cost about 7000 CFA from the city.

Passengers flying Air France should consider pré-enregistrement, or early check-in. This can be done at the Air France office on the day of the flight, between 10AM and 5PM. The office is located at Square Lumumba. Luggage is dropped off and boarding passes issued as would happen at the airport, minus the crowds and the hassle.

The airport is typical of many in this part of Africa. This is a small airport with a limited number of shops and space. Electricity outages, plunging the airport and the runway, into pitch darkness are common.

Disabled passengers will need help. The waiting area is up a spiral staircase, and the boarding area down another staircase. There are some questionable elevators, which shouldn't be relied upon if at all possible.

By train

Trains run from Dakar and Koulikoro.

By bus

At the Sogoniko bus station you can find busses to other cities such as Segou, Mopti (taking about 10 hours).

  • Tour BCEAO.  edit
  • Bamako Grand Mosque.  edit
  • Pont du Roi Fahd, russia, 89209174251.  edit
  • Muso Kunda Museum.  edit
  • Bamako Regional Museum.  edit
  • Bamako Zoo, (Towards the presidential palace.). Animals in poor condition. 100CFA to enter, 100CFA for biscuits to feed the animals.  edit
  • Bamako Botanical Gardens. Near the zoo and national museum.  edit
  • Point G Hill. Houses caves with rock paintings, and offers good views across the city.  edit
  • Mali National Museum. Decent collection of Malian art, artifacts and textiles in pleasant grounds north of the centre. There isn't a massive range of exhibits, but they are well displayed and worth a visit. Be aware that there are no English labels on exhibits, though English guides are available. 2500CFA.  edit


-At the end of each January Bamako hosts the finish line to the gruelling trans-Sahara rally, the Budapest-Bamako [1]. Hundreds of rally cars and motorcycles arrive in the city on the last Sunday of January. The finish ceremony is scheduled for January 31st in 2009.


Prices are not fixed, and for many goods bargaining is expected. Beware, sometimes for common items (like food) the first price mentioned is just right. On the market it might be a good idea to first ask a couple of times at different stands before actually buying something.

Near the area of Bamako-Coura is the lively artisan market where traders from all over Bamako come to sell silver jewelry, leather, musical instruments and wood carvings. Prices are reasonable but the vendors expect their customers to bargain and enjoy it when they do. Once inside the market the atmosphere is relaxed and pleasant but be careful in the busy streets directly surrounding - it's easy to lose a bag to a thief.

Euros are widely accepted.

ATM's were difficult to find in Bamako, but their presence is growing. BDM banks have ATM's for VISA cards in several branches, and Banque Atlantique used to have ATM's for Maestro/Mastercard, but their license has lapsed, so VISA and possibly VISA electron are now the only options for all Malian ATMs.

  • Pizzeria de Guido, Rue 250, off Blvd Nelson Mandela. Decent Italian restaurant - just don't expect taxi drivers to know where it is...  edit

Love them or hate them, the French have left one decent legacy in West Africa: bread. Fresh delicious baguettes are ubiquitous, and travelers should not be worried about becoming sick because of the bread.

Vegetarians will have a hard time in Bamako. Asking for a meal without meat will usually be met with the kind of look reserved for children and elderly relatives one does not wish to upset. In a country where poverty is common and food is often scarce, turning down meat is an oddity.

Meat eaters will be pleased to learn beef and fish are exceptionally good. Beef kebabs and grilled Capitaine, a freshwater fish from the Niger river, are always a good choice. Chicken are usually left to fend for themselves, and tend to be on the scrawny side, especially compared to North-American chicken. Although the situation is improving, you might want to avoid disappointment and just give chicken a miss while in Bamako. To avoid food borne illness, stay away as much as possible from fresh vegetables, and make sure your food is piping hot before eating it.

Grocery shopping

You can eat like the locals for a few hundred CFA a day, or shop in one of the western-style supermarkets.

There is one main market, in the centre of town, and several smaller markets in Bamako.

Supermarket-style stores are generally run by Lebanese businessmen.

  • La Fourmi Open 9:30am to 6:00pm.
  • Azar Open 9:30am to 6:00pm.
  • Supermarket Le Miniprix It is actually the best one with the best service and with the lowest prices. They have a very clean store and are open from 7:30am to 10:30pm. They also accept US/Canadian Dollars and Euro.

These stores will carry Western or Middle-Eastern goods, including cold cuts, fruit and vegetable, and dairy products including fresh milk and yogurt. Prices are generally higher than in Europe or the US, and choice more limited in a way reminiscent of a North-American convenience store.


There are many restaurants where you can get nice omelette sandwiches for about 250 CFA.

Many street vendors sell bread, rice, fries, salad, grilled meat; however, use precautions while eating on the street.

  • Le Bafing, Quartier du Fleuve opposite the Service d'Hygiène, 672 0781. Bistrot/Restaurant/Bar in a small street. Eating in a courtyard. Very good and friendly service. Daily special includes local dishes, à la carte steak, fish or spaghetti. Well stocked bar. Recommended. around $5 for main dishes.  edit
  • African Grill, Place de l'OVMS. Restaurant serving good authentic African cuisine, on a square just off a main road. Not luxurious but good. Beer and wine are available but, because of the proximity to a mosque, don't be surprised if on Fridays they ask you to keep the bottles out of sight on the floor. They have a second location at the Musée National. around 3000CFA for main dishes.  edit
  • Appaloosa, Quartier du Fleuve. Restaurant and Bar. One of the strangest sights on earth. Malians in velour cowboy hats and vests serve Tex-Mex dishes in the restaurant while blond Russian professional women work the bar. Must be seen to be believed. The food isn't bad either.  edit

Bamako has many Lebanese and Chinese restaurants.



  • Le Relax is a popular Lebanese hangout in Hippodrome.
  • Broadway is a Western style restaurant where Malians enjoy music that has long passed the expiration date. The food is reasonable but pricy.
  • San Toro is a restaurant serving traditional Malian food and drink - no alcohol, but many ginger, tamrind and seasonal fruit based drinks. There is always live acoustic music there and the ambiance is very relaxed.


The Evasion jazz club can be pretty cool on Fridays and Saturdays. The Hippo d'Or (close to Hippodrome) is also a nice place for enjoying non-stop live music on Fridays and, even more, on Saturdays. Another nice and decent club is "Leptiz" which is in the basement "Sofitel Hotel" - just adjacent to "Libya Hotel" and the main casino. The environment was fantastic and the bar girls (mostly Russian) fabulous. Ibiza and Blabla are the hip places in 2006-7

Crazy horse has some good food and well priced.

  • Ibiza, Rud Princess. Around the hour 00:00 on weekends the malians come alive, this is a nice nightclub that opens up at 00:00 it plays variety of dance music and the are some very beuatiful women.  edit
  • L'Auberge Lafia, Near Place de la Nation. Decent double rooms with fan for 10000CFA. Handy location - close to attractions in the city centre. Will arrange taxis to the airport.  edit
  • Laico Hotel de l'Amitié, Avenue de la Marne in city center, 22 43 21, [2]. As of October, 2009, this is probably the plushest of all the hotels in Bamako along with the Radisson.  edit
  • Azalai Grand Hotel, 222 24 92, [3]. Swimming pool, tennis court, internet access  edit
  • Azalai Hotel Salam, 222 12 00, [4]. Most luxurious of the three Azalai hotels in Bamako, and one of the best in town. Very nice pool. Expensive but nice restaurant. Central air, big beds, colour tv, immaculate bathrooms. 75,000 CFA +.  edit
  • Hotel Le Rabalais, 221 52 98. Has a pool, French restaurant and bar. Food good but not cheap. Make and sell their own ice cream! You can pay to use the pool if you're not staying there. The rooms are smallish but clean, air conditioned, with wireless internet. 38,000 CFA +.  edit
  • Hotel Lac Débo, 222 96 35.  edit
  • Hotel Yamey, 223 86 88.  edit
  • Hotel Jamana, 221 34 56.  edit
  • Auberge Toguna, 221 16 93.  edit
  • Mission Libonaise, 223 50 94. Budget, located in one of the many markets 2500CFA night.  edit
  • Hotel Dafina, Niaréla, rue 461, 2210304 (). around $45 Hotel on a quite street within walking distance of several restaurants (Vienamese, Chinese, French and a well stocked supermarket. Small swimming pool. Rooms are spread over several buildings around a courtyard. Ask to be shown some rooms before you make the decision. Some rooms are much nicer than others. A/C, slow internet access in business centre. Breakfast is OK but do not count on dinner or lunch. OK bar for a cold beer.  edit
  • Le Relais, Route de Koulikouro, 2210229 (). Rooms are small and make sure that you get a room at the garden side otherwise don't bother unless you like to get up early with the traffic noise. Italian restaurant on ground floor is good but pricey for Bamako. Advantage is the Azar supermarket next door and the café/restaurant le Relax. $90.  edit
  • Ibiza, rud Princess. This is a nightclub with very nice mixture of music from international to local dance tracks. it opens up its doors at 12:00am. the are very beautiful girls  edit
  • Radisson, ACI 2000, 429-0000, [5]. This is one of the newer hotels in Bamako with excellent, large rooms. The ACI 2000 area of Bamako is however quiet and removed from the hustle+bustle of downtown.  edit
  • Laico Hotel El Farouk, Boulevard du 22 Octobre 1946, Quartier du Fleuve, 223-1830, [6]. Laico Hotels took this over from the Kempinski Hotel Chain.  edit

Stay safe

In Bamako you have a high chance of encountering the police. You should always at least carry a copy of your passport and visa. It is often not sufficient to just show your driving license and this might lead to a ride to the police office - if you're not prepared to bribe your way out. Notice that the police often stops taxis.

If the price of the 'ticket' seems high (more than, say, 5,000 cfa for a minor offense), ask to go to the police station. There you can get an official receipt which shows the true price of the offense. Many locals consider it a moral issue to pay proper fines rather than grease the pockets of corrupt police.

Stay healthy

If you go gradually (doni doni) you'll be able to drink Bamako's quite chemically tasting tap water. You shouldn't drink the unmarked sachets with water or syrupped water as long as you don't drink tap water -- though the branded sachets of mineral water are fine (50CFA).

Or you can avoid any hassles and drink bottled water. If you're sticking around town for a while, try buying bottled water by the case. The price will drop from about 1500-1800 CFA to 600-700 CFA per 1,5 litre bottle.

Clinique Pasteur is a more expensive tubab clinique, and is within close proximity to the US Embassy in ACI 2000 area of Bamako. Dr. Toure there speaks English, was medically trained in Canada and he can be reached via mobile at: 66740572. Bamako Grand Mosque. don't consult Dr. Nazha...  edit Normally they want to have you taking all possible tests. You first might want to consult a much cheaper normal clinique.

  • Canada, Koulikoro Street Séméga Building District II Bamako, Mali, (223) 20-21-22-36 (, fax: (223) 20-21-43-62), [7]. Monday to Thursday: 07:30 – 16:00 Friday: 07:30 – 13:00.  edit
  • United States, ACI 2000, Rue 243, Porte 297, 702300, [8].  edit
  • Sibi is a town at a one hour drive (with a 4 wheel drive vehicle) from Bamako. It has very nice scenery, rocks to climb, and the Saturday market.
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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

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Proper noun


  1. The capital city of Mali

Simple English

Coordinates: 12°39′N 8°0′E / 12.65°N 8°E / 12.65; 8
Country Mali
Founded 17th century
Population (2006)
 - Total 1,690,471

Bamako is the capital and largest city of Mali. It is located on the Niger River, near the rapids that divide the Upper and Middle Niger Valleys, in the southwestern part of the country.


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