Islam was introduced to West Africa in the 11th century and remains the predominant religion in much of the region.
An estimated 90 percent of Malians are Muslim (mostly Sunni), approximately 5 percent are Christian (about two-thirds Roman Catholic and one-third Protestant) and the remaining 5 percent adhere to indigenous or traditional animist beliefs.
Atheism and agnosticism are believed to be rare among Malians, most of whom practice their religion on a daily basis.
Islam as historically practiced in Mali has been malleable and adapted to local conditions; relations between Muslims and practitioners of minority religious faiths have generally been amicable.
After the 2012 imposition of sharia rule in northern parts of the country, however, Mali came to be listed high (number 7) in the Christian persecution index published by Open Doors, which described the persecution in the north as severe.