MALI

Country Description: Mali is a developing west African nation with a democratic government. Facilities for tourism are limited.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport and visa are required. Travelers should obtain the latest information from the Embassy of the Republic of Mali, 2130 R Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 332-2249. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Malian embassy or consulate.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Mali's northern regions and the Mauritanian border have historically been plagued by banditry. During the first half of the decade, they witnessed armed rebellions. Recent government-rebel peace initiatives ended the insurgency. However, banditry and, especially, carjackings persist. The U.S. Embassy in Bamako urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution while traveling in the north or to any isolated area within Mali.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are limited and many medicines are unavailable. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health care services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including medical evacuation, has proven useful. For additional information, travelers may contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at (404) 332-4559. Internet: http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and simple theft, are common. Less frequent, yet more serious, are the incidents of armed robberies and banditry that occur in downtown Bamako, along major travel routes and near principal cities. Travelers who stay alert, remain in groups and avoid poorly lit areas, especially after dark, may avoid problems.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa" provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Road Conditions: Mali has a few paved roads which are in fair condition. U.S. citizens traveling by road should exercise extreme caution. Poorly maintained, overloaded transport and cargo vehicles frequently break down and cause accidents. Undisciplined drivers render traffic movements unpredictable. Construction work is often poorly indicated. Speed bumps - commonly used on paved roads in and near villages - are seldom indicated. Night time driving is particularly hazardous because vehicles frequently lack headlights and/or tail lights. Mali's unpaved roads vary in quality. Deep sand and/or ditches are common. During the rainy season, from mid-June to mid-September, dirt roads often become impassable. Four wheel drive vehicles with full spare tires and equipment are recommended.

Photography: Photography is no longer restricted, except for military subjects. However, interpretation of what may be considered off limits varies. Other subjects may be considered sensitive from a cultural or religious viewpoint. It is helpful to obtain permission before taking photographs in Mali.

Currency: Currency exchange facilities are slow and often involve out-of-date rates. The U.S. Embassy cannot provide exchange facilities for private Americans. Use of credit cards is limited to payment for services at two hotels in Bamako. Cash advances on credit cards are performed by only one bank in Mali, the BMCD Bank in Bamako, and only on a VISA credit card.

Telephone Service: International calls are expensive, and collect calls cannot be made from outside Bamako.

Exportation of Artifacts: Since 1993, the U.S. government restricts the importation of Malian archeological cultural property from the Niger river valley and the Banoiagara cliff region. Visitors seeking to export any such property are required by Malian law to obtain an export authorization from the National Museum in Bamako.

Embassy Location/Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Bamako at the intersection of Rue Rochester NY and Rue Mohamed V, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Mali. The U.S. Embassy's mailing address is B.P. 34, Bamako, Mali. The telephone number is (223) 22-38-33. The fax number is (223) 22-37-12.

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