This chapter provides a brief historical background and a description of major events in Mali. It also provides basic political, economic, and social data arranged in the following categories: polity, economy, population, purchasing power parities, life expectancy, ethnic groups, capital, political rights, civil liberties, and status. The chapter discusses the progress and decline of political rights and civil liberties in Mali. The ruling Alliance for Democracy in Mali party suffered a split in 2001, adding more competition ahead of presidential and legislative elections scheduled for 2002. Mali continued to enjoy favourable attention from Western donors in 2001 because of the country's persistent efforts at democratic reform. Mali's people chose their government freely and fairly in presidential and legislative elections in 1992. Mali's human rights record is generally good, although there are reports of police brutality. Prisons are characterized by overcrowding, inadequate medical care, and limited food.