Despite a turn for the worse, the country experienced a relatively long, stable and democratic period - although it remained poor. Today, it still has one of the highest rates of both infant mortality and fertility, in addition to having one of lowest life expectancies and literacy rates around the world. The fertility rate is as high as six children per woman, and an overwhelming majority of the population is under 14 years old – almost half of all inhabitants. This is obviously causing the population of the country to grow at high rates, and the cycle of poverty continues. The country remains predominantly rural, and the largest city and capital, Bamako, is home to only around 2 million people.
The economy of rural Mali is still largely based in services and agriculture, with close to 41 percent of GDP being generated by the agricultural sector. The fertile Niger river basin largely supports the countries agricultural economy. One of Mali’s major commodities is cotton, and Mali ranks among the leading cotton exporting countries in the world. However, Mali has not been able to develop its industrial sector, although this would also help contribute to increase levels of economic growth within the country. It would also help raise the current levels of GDP per capita, which is around 800 U.S. dollars per capita.
In 2012, economic growth was greatly hindered, the same year the president was ousted. While high rates of economic growth were reported for 2014 and 2015, due to current events and high instability in the region, these rates did not hold and economic growth seems to decrease again over the next few years.