Near the bank of the Bani River in Mopti. Photo by Mary Newcombe. Mali

YES Students

All students from Mali are Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program scholarship winners. Click here to learn more about the YES Program.

Country Information

With so many tribes with different languages and cultures, Mali is bursting with diversity.

Still today people can come to Mali and see the past empires and kingdoms that once ruled the land.

Lifestyle and Family

A Malian family is typically large. People believe it is best to have a lot of children so they can help with the household. At age five the children start to help out at home and when they get old enough they start working and contributing to the family’s income.

Teen Life and Sports

All over the country soccer is loved by all. People love to watch it while socializing with people and playing the sport as well. The wealthier people of the country usually just watch soccer and other programs on the television, while the poor people are more active.


Malians tend to eat a lot of corn and millet. A popular meal is a porridge that is thick and made out of flour. Meat is expensive so people eat a lot of vegetables and fruits. To flavor some of the meals the Malians make a peanut sauce or, on special occasions, a meat sauce.

Language and Religion

French is the official language of Mali. It is used by the government and for school instruction. However, not everyone in the country speak French. There are hundreds of indigenous languages, the most widely spoken being Bambara. 90% of Malians are Muslims and the other 10% are indigenous religions.

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