Mali is the eighth-largest country in Africa, with an area of just over 1,240,000 square kilometers and a population of 14.5 million. It consists of eight regions and its borders on the north reach deep into the middle of the Sahara Desert. It has faced violent turmoil ever since the conflicts began back in 2012.A brief history of MaliOnce part of three West African empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade, Mali was a cultural and academic center for advanced mathematics, astronomy, literature, and art. At its peak in 1300, the Mali Empire covered an area about twice the size of modern-day France and stretched to the west coast of Africa. France seized control of Mali in the late 19th century, making it a part of French Sudan. Shortly after achieving independence in 1960, the Sudanese Republic declared itself the independent Republic of Mali. After a long period of one-party rule, a coup in 1991 led to the writing of a new constitution and the establishment of Mali as a democratic, multi-party state.