The green stands for fertility of the land, gold stands for purity and mineral wealth, and the red symbolizes the blood shed for independence from the French.
The current flag was adopted on March 1, 1961. The original flag was adopted on April 4, 1959, when Mali joined the Mali Federation. This flag was the same, except the golden stripe had a squatter man, a kanaga, in black, with arms raised to the sky. The figure was removed due to the opposition, in a country whose population is 90% Muslim, of Islamic fundamentalists (see Aniconism in Islam, the belief against making pictures of the human figure)