The landlocked West African nation was a pivotal hub for trans-Sahara trading routes that gave some of its cities like Timbuktu almost mythical status over the centuries. Africa's third-largest gold producer, Mali has had to fight an Islamist insurgency in recent years. But capital Bamako, on the banks of the Niger river, remains a popular cultural center, its famed markets and museums filled with locals and tourists alike.
Need to Know
More from Mali
Where other European explorers had failed and sometimes died, an obsessed Frenchman succeeded — by going native.
Explore the world with OZY.COM
This year, OZY will be bringing you untold stories from every single country on the map, one day at a time, to introduce you to new people, new trends and new places. Travel with us for sights, sounds, and surprises from across our diverse world.View Full Series