Bamako is the capital of Mali and is historically and culturally one of the richest areas in West Africa. It has a reputation of being a mecca for those seeking a traditional cultural experience. "Traditions are alive within Mali's ethnic groups: in their complex social structure, daily lives, festivals, religious ceremonies and beautiful artifacts. The culture of Mali has produced some of the most beautiful architecture and sculptures on earth" (www.africatravelling.net). Musically, Bamako is a hot bed of rich musical heritage and culture. There are few places in West Africa more noted for its musical influence throughout the region and the world.
Bamako is home to various ethnic groups such as Bambara (Bamana), Malinke, Sarakole, Peul (Fulani), Tuareg and Dogon among others in smaller percentages. Bambara and Malinke make up a large portion of the population although you will occasionally spot people of Tuareg ethnicity. These people are easy to spot with their beautifully-hued blue clothing and unique jewelry. Bambara is the predominant language used, with French as a close second, especially in business.
One of Africa's major waterways, the Niger River, runs through Bamako and provides sustenance for Malians in many ways. It is a source of food and water, provides a means for transport and commerce, used as irrigation for agriculture and even is a place to wash and do laundry. The Niger River is essential to life in Bamako.