Bamako, the capital of the Republic of Mali, which once prospered as one of three of the greatest black-ruled kingdoms in West Africa, was founded in the year 1640. Built on the banks of the Niger River, Bamako derives its name from “Bama” and “Ko,” meaning alligator and river. Its population of one million plus includes a diversity of ethnic groups. Its largest is that of the Bambara people. Although French is the official language, the Bambara language is the one most commonly spoken.
Bamako has beautifully and harmoniously integrated both the “modern” and the “old” as part of its present day culture, and has thus retained much of its traditional lifestyle and architecture. The economy includes agriculture and industry, with some of its primary products deriving from cotton, fish, ground nuts, livestock, and handicrafts. Although there is much economic deprivation, Bamako retains a rich history and an abundance of cultural wealth.
Bamako Information and Culture