Bamako is the nation's administrative center. The city proper is a cercle in its own right. Bamako's river port is located in nearby Koulikoro, along with a major regional trade and conference center. Bamako is the seventh-largest West African urban center after Lagos, Abidjan, Kano, Ibadan, Dakar, and Accra. Locally manufactured goods include textiles, processed meat, and metal goods. Commercial fishing occurs on the Niger River.
The name Bamako (Bàmakɔ̌ in Bambara) comes from the Bambara word meaning "crocodile river".
The National Library of Mali was first created by the Institut Français d'Afrique Noire, an arm of the French colonial government, in 1944. Following Mali's 1960 independence, this library became the Government Library; it would later be renamed again as the National Library of Mali.
In 1968, the library was transferred from its initial home in Koulouba to Ouolofobougou, a section of Bamako. The library holds more than 60,000 works, including books, periodicals, audio documents, videos, and software.
These materials are available free to the public, though a small subscription fee is required for borrowing privileges. The library also hosts some of the exhibits for African Photography Encounters, a biannual Bamako photography festival.
The Bamako Grand Mosque is located in the city centre of Bamako, situated north of the Niger River near the central Market (Grand Marche) and the colonial era Bamako Cathedral. It is one of the tallest structures in Bamako.
Built on the site of a precolonial mud-brick mosque, the current mosque was built through funding from the Saudi Arabian government at the end of the 1970s. With its tall concrete minarets built around a square central structure, the building is stylistically closer to Saudi religious structures than West African. The mosque is visible from much of the city and occasionally is opened to tourists.
The BCEAO Tower at 20 stories is the tallest building in the West African nation. It sits of the north ("left") bank of the River Niger in the city centre.
The BCEAO Tower is the Malian headquarters of the Central Bank of West African States, which provides development banking and government financial and currency services in several Francophone West African nations. Classified as Neo-Sudanic architecture, it is modeled on the Sudano-Sahelian architecture of the famous mosques of Djenne and Timbuktu.
The building is located in the busy Commune III neighbourhood, where "Avenue Moussa Tavele" meets the waterside boulevard between the two main Bamako bridges : King Fahd Bridge a block west and Martyrs Bridge three blocks east. Just to the east of the BCEAO complex, a park and formal garden mark where the diagonally running "Boulevard du Peuple" reaches the river.
By contrast, small market gardens and launching points or river canoes lie along the river front. With the Hotel de l'Amitié and the Bamako Grand Mosque, the BCEAO Tower is one of three landmarks visible across most of the city. Also of note is the Bamako Cathedral.
The Cité Administrative (Administrative City) is a complex of buildings located just west of the northern end of the King Fahd Bridge. The complex was begun in 2003 by then President Konaré with the help of funding from the government of Libya. The 10-hectare (25-acre) Cité Administrative was completed in 2010 and houses many of the offices of the government.
The National Museum of Mali is an archeological and anthropological museum, presenting permanent and temporary exhibits on the prehistory of Mali, as well as the musical instruments, dress, and ritual objects associated with Mali's various ethnic groups. The National Museum began under French rule as the Sudanese Museum, part of the Institut Français d'Afrique Noire (IFAN) under Théodore Monod.
It was opened on 14 February 1953, under the direction of Ukrainian archeologist Y. Shumowskyi. Archaeologist Y. Shumovskyi had worked in the museum for nine years, gathering half (nearly 3000) of today's finds.
With the independence of the Republic of Mali in 1960, the Sudanese Museum became the National Museum of Mali, with the new objectives of promoting national unity and celebrating Malian traditional culture.
However, lack of financial means and absence of qualified personnel caused some deterioration in the museum's collections. On 30 March 1956, the National Museum moved into a new cemented structure, created by architect Jean-Loup Pivin from traditional Malian designs.
Since the 1996 election of former archaeologist Alpha Oumar Konaré to Mali's presidency, the museum's funding has increased considerably, becoming among the best in West Africa. The museum often hosts part of the biannual African Photography Encounters, photography festival held in Bamako since 1994.
Also of note is the Muso Kunda Museum, the Bamako Regional Museum, Bamako Zoo, the Bamako Botanical Gardens, the National Conference Center Tower (NCC), the Souvenir Pyramid, the Independence Monument, Al Quoods Monument, the triangular Monument de la paix, the Hamdallaye obelisk, the Modibo Keita Memorial and many other monuments, the Palais de la Culture Amadou Hampaté Ba and the Point G hill, containing caves with rock paintings.
In 1988, Bamako was the location of a WHO conference known as the Bamako Initiative that helped reshape health policy of sub-Saharan Africa. The yearly held Budapest-Bamako rally has the endpoint in Bamako, with the Dakar Rally often passing through Bamako.