The main distinctive features of the physical environment in Mali consist in the variety of morphological and climatic zones, linked to the great extension of the country, and in the presence of the course of the Niger river, which crosses the Mali for 1800 km, swamping in the central depression in a large system of lakes, secondary branches and dead branches, currently called the ‘internal delta of Niger’. The relief consists of three large morphological-structural elements, which follow one another in the SW-NE direction. The first, on the south-western border, is represented by the northern offshoots of the Guinean plateau, from which Niger originates; then an area of plateaus takes over, on the right of the middle Niger; finally an area of lowlands to the North, dominated, on the border with Algeria, by the vast massif of the Adrar des Ifoghas (942 m). Overall, 65% of the territory is desert or semi-desert. The hydrographic network, essentially made up of the Senegal and Niger rivers (which receives the Bani tribute from the right), plays a fundamental role, especially through the second, whose annual flood represents a fundamental resource for agricultural development and which has always attracted farmers and fishermen. As for the climate, we pass from subequatorial characteristics to the extreme S (where rainfall is greater than 1300 mm) to conditions of increasing aridity proceeding towards the N: in most of the country the climate is of a tropical steppe type, then, to the north of the course of Niger, of a pre-desert Sahelian or even desert type. Parallel to the decrease in rainfall, the annual temperature range is accentuating, which from minimum values (1-2 ° C) in the more southern areas rises to almost 20 ° C in the far north.
Terrain shapes and bedrock
According to COUNTRYAAH, northern Mali is part of the Sahara, while the southern part of the country belongs to the Sudan region. The oldest bedrock is found in the Iforasberg rounded granite cliffs in the northeast. Otherwise, the bedrock is covered by younger sandstones and loose deposits. The Iforas Mountains, which reach up to 890 m above sea level, are an outlet of the Ahaggarm Massif in Algeria.
The Niger River makes a strong bend in Mali and develops a vast inland west of the Dogon Plateau. The plateaus in the southwest reach up to 800 m above sea level. and have deep cut river gorges, while in the southeast they form a more scenic landscape with levels between 300 and 600 m above sea level. Highest of the plateaus is the Dogon Plateau, which in Hombori Tondo reaches up to 1,155 m above sea level.
In the Fouta Djallon massif on the border with Guinea, several of the Senegal’s tributaries are rising.
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The location at the northern turnaround gives Mali a dry and hot high-pressure weather. The most precipitation receives the Sudan region in the south, with an annual average rainfall of 500–1 400 mm. The northern part of the country is desert and is characterized by large differences in temperature, both between summer and winter and between day and night.
Plant-and animal life
At the far south are sparse forests with, among other things. acacias and Isoberliʹnia (the pea family). Further north, the landscape becomes more open with grassy hills and collections of, among other things. doumpalm. Further north, grass water takes over and finally the desert. In total, about 1 750 flowering plants have been noted. The drought of recent decades, in combination with overgrazing, has depleted vegetation and degraded the soil.
Most large mammals have disappeared and many breeding areas for birds are threatened as the fields become drier. More than ten mammal species are endangered. Today there are about 140 species of mammals, about 400 species of breeding birds and 16 species of reptiles. Of large mammals there are lions, spotted hyena and several species of antelope, in the desert e.g. Addax. South of Bamako is a protected area with 50-150 chimpanzees. In the inland delta of the Niger River, bird life is rich, and here also many migrating ducks from the northern hemisphere rest.
Mali had a national park in 1996, Boucle du Baoulé northwest of Bamako, a dry saw, sometimes with dense gallery forest along the rivers. lion, leopard, giraffe and hippo. In addition, there were 15 fauna reserves or other types of protection.