There was a slow and steady decline in the Malian Empire which has lead to its current circumstances
Present day Mali is home to some of the largest and most prosperous African empires that controlled trans-Saharan trade including the Ghana Empire, the Mali Empire and the Songhai Empire, collectively spanning from around the 8th to the 16th centuries. The region reached its peak around the 14th century as part of the Mali Empire, becoming famous as a centre mathematics, arts, literature, and astronomy due to its economical flourishing. The empire however slowly declined losing first territory to subsequent foreign rulers, until suffering to famine and colonialism in later centuries, both have left this once great empire to a fiercely divided country in the present day.
Mali’s Empire is well known from the Hajj of Mansa Musa, the Emperor of Mali, thought to be one of the richest men in history, who carried out a pilgrimage from Timbuktu to Mecca in 1324, building a mosque every Friday and giving unthinkable amounts of gold to peasants on the way. Musa’s unimaginable wealth is thought to have been a combination of a comprehensive tax system and a large amount of natural resources, namely gold and salt. His trade and generosity was also so great that his pilgrimage is reported to have devalued the price of gold in Egypt and Arabia for 12 years. Musa returned to Mali in 1325 and continued to have mosques and palaces built in Timbuktu and Gao, even converting Sankoré University to have one of the largest libraries in the world before his death in 1337.
However after generations of weak emperors throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, the Songhai Empire rose to prominence as Mali declined. The Mali Empire continued to lose its once massive territories in subsequent generations until a famine in the 19th century devastated the region. This was followed by French colonial rule in the latter part of the century and independence from French rule in 1960. After a period of one party rule of the country a coup in 1991 gave rise to the current multiparty system in Mali.