The Republic of Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa, a region geologically identified with the West African Craton. Mali is bordered by Algeria to the northeast, Niger to the east, Burkina Faso and Côte d'Ivoire to the south, Guinea to the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania to the west, and is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 km2. The population of Mali is 18 million. Its capital is Bamako. Mali consists of eight regions and its borders on the north reach deep into the middle of the Sahara Desert, while the country's southern part, where the majority of inhabitants live, features the Niger and Senegal rivers. The country's economy centers on agriculture and fishing. Some of Mali's prominent natural resources include gold, being the third largest producer of gold in the African continent,[8] and salt. Present-day Mali was once part of three West African empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade: the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire

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