Sikasso | Mali

Sikasso is a city in the south of Mali and the capital of the Sikasso Cercle and the Sikasso Region. It is Mali's second largest city with 225,753 residents in the 2009 census.

Sikasso was founded at the beginning of the nineteenth century by Mansa Douala. The town was a small village until 1876 when Tieba Traoré, whose mother came from Sikasso, became King of the Kénédougou Empire and moved its capital there. He established his palace on the sacred Mamelon hill (now home to a water tower) and constructed a tata or fortifying wall to defend against the attacks of both the Malinke conqueror Samori Ture and the French colonial army. The city withstood a long siege from 1887 to 1888 but fell to the French in 1898; rather than surrender to the colonial army, Tieba's brother Babemba Traoré, who had succeeded him as king, committed suicide, honoring the famous Bamanankan saying "Saya ka fisa ni maloya ye" (literally: death is preferable to shame).

Attractions today include the large market, Mamelon hill, the remains of Tieba Traoré's tata, and the nearby Missirikoro Grotto. The festival Triangle du balafon takes place every June, celebrating the traditional Malian instrument.

Sikasso's sister city is Brive-la-Gaillarde, France.

Sikasso Region is the southern-most region of Mali. The region's capital city, Sikasso, is the country's second-largest city and is growing rapidly due to people fleeing the violence in Côte d'Ivoire to the south. Major ethnic groups include the Senoufo, known for masks and reverence for animals, the Samago, known for being Mali's best farmers, and the main ethnic group in Mali, the Bambara people.The local economy is based on farming and the Sikasso, which receives more rain than any other Malian region, is known for its fruits and vegetables.

Mali is a landlocked country in West Africa, located southwest of Algeria. It lies between latitudes 10° and 25°N, and longitudes 13°W and 5°E. 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.

At 1,242,248 square kilometres (479,635 sq mi), including the disputed region of Azawad, Mali is the world's 24th-largest country and is comparable in size to South Africa or Angola. Most of the country lies in the southern Sahara Desert, which produces an extremely hot, dust-laden Sudanian savanna zone. Mali is mostly flat, rising to rolling northern plains covered by sand. The Adrar des Ifoghas massif lies in the northeast.

Until the military coup of 22 March 2012 and a second military coup in December 2012, Mali was a constitutional democracy governed by the Constitution of 12 January 1992, which was amended in 1999. The constitution provides for a separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The system of government can be described as "semi-presidential". Executive power is vested in a president, who is elected to a five-year term by universal suffrage and is limited to two terms.

The president serves as a chief of state and commander in chief of the armed forces. A prime minister appointed by the president serves as head of government and in turn appoints the Council of Ministers. The unicameral National Assembly is Mali's sole legislative body, consisting of deputies elected to five-year terms. Following the 2007 elections, the Alliance for Democracy and Progress held 113 of 160 seats in the assembly. The assembly holds two regular sessions each year, during which it debates and votes on legislation that has been submitted by a member or by the government.

In 2016, Mali's population was an estimated 18 million . The population is predominantly rural (68 percent in 2002), and 5–10 percent of Malians are nomadic. More than 90 percent of the population lives in the southern part of the country, especially in Bamako, which has over 1 million residents.

In 2007, about 48 percent of Malians were younger than 12 years old, 49 percent were 15–64 years old, and 3 percent were 65 and older. The median age was 15.9 years. The birth rate in 2014 is 45.53 births per 1,000, and the total fertility rate (in 2012) was 6.4 children per woman. The death rate in 2007 was 16.5 deaths per 1,000. Life expectancy at birth was 53.06 years total (51.43 for males and 54.73 for females). Mali has one of the world's highest rates of infant mortality, with 106 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2007.

Mali faces numerous health challenges related to poverty, malnutrition, and inadequate hygiene and sanitation. Mali's health and development indicators rank among the worst in the world. Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 53.06 years in 2012. In 2000, 62–65 percent of the population was estimated to have access to safe drinking water and only 69 percent to sanitation services of some kind. In 2001, the general government expenditures on health totalled about US$4 per capita at an average exchange rate.

Efforts have been made to improve nutrition, and reduce associated health problems, by encouraging women to make nutritious versions of local recipes. For example, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Aga Khan Foundation, trained women's groups to make equinut, a healthy and nutritional version of the traditional recipe di-dèguè (comprising peanut paste, honey and millet or rice flour). The aim was to boost nutrition and livelihoods by producing a product that women could make and sell, and which would be accepted by the local community because of its local heritage.

Medical facilities in Mali are very limited, and medicines are in short supply. Malaria and other arthropod-borne diseases are prevalent in Mali, as are a number of infectious diseases such as cholera and tuberculosis. Mali's population also suffers from a high rate of child malnutrition and a low rate of immunization. An estimated 1.9 percent of the adult and children population was afflicted with HIV/AIDS that year, among the lowest rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. An estimated 85–91 percent of Mali's girls and women have had female genital mutilation (2006 and 2001 data).

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