Niger

Niger

Overview
Niger officially named the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

. It borders Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 and Benin
Benin
Benin , officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located...

 to the south, Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso – also known by its short-form name Burkina – is a landlocked country in west Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the southwest.Its size is with an estimated...

 and Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 to the west, Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 and Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 to the north and Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

 to the east. Niger covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2, making it the largest nation in West Africa, with over 80 percent of its land area covered by the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 desert.
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Encyclopedia
Niger officially named the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

. It borders Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 and Benin
Benin
Benin , officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located...

 to the south, Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso – also known by its short-form name Burkina – is a landlocked country in west Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the southwest.Its size is with an estimated...

 and Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 to the west, Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 and Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 to the north and Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

 to the east. Niger covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2, making it the largest nation in West Africa, with over 80 percent of its land area covered by the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 desert. The country's predominantly Islamic population of just above 15,000,000 is mostly clustered in the far south and west of the nation. The capital city is Niamey
Niamey
-Population:While Niamey's population has grown steadily since independence, the droughts of the early 1970s and 1980s, along with the economic crisis of the early 1980s, have propelled an exodus of rural inhabitants to Niger's largest city...

.

Niger is a developing country. It consistently has one of the lowest ranks of the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

' Human Development Index (HDI
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

), currently 167th of 169 countries. Much of the non-desert portions of the country are threatened by periodic drought and desertification
Desertification
Desertification is the degradation of land in drylands. Caused by a variety of factors, such as climate change and human activities, desertification is one of the most significant global environmental problems.-Definitions:...

. The economy is concentrated around subsistence
Subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture is self-sufficiency farming in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed their families. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to eat and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made with an eye...

 and some export agriculture clustered in the more fertile south, and the export of raw materials—especially uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 ore. Niger remains handicapped by its landlocked position, desert terrain, poor education and poverty of its people, lack of infrastructure, poor health care, and environmental degradation.

Nigerien society reflects a diversity drawn from the long independent histories of its several ethnic groups and regions and their relatively short period living in a single state. Historically, what is now Niger has been on the fringes of several large states. Since independence, Nigeriens have lived under five constitutions and three periods of military rule
Military dictatorship
A military dictatorship is a form of government where in the political power resides with the military. It is similar but not identical to a stratocracy, a state ruled directly by the military....

. A majority live in rural areas, and have little access to advanced education.

Geography






Niger is a landlocked
Landlocked
A landlocked country is a country entirely enclosed by land, or whose only coastlines lie on closed seas. There are 48 landlocked countries in the world, including partially recognized states...

 nation in West Africa located along the border between the Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 and Sub-Saharan
Sub-Saharan Africa
Sub-Saharan Africa as a geographical term refers to the area of the African continent which lies south of the Sahara. A political definition of Sub-Saharan Africa, instead, covers all African countries which are fully or partially located south of the Sahara...

 regions. It lies between latitudes 11°
11th parallel north
The 11th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 11 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, the Indian Ocean, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Central America, South America and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 24°N
24th parallel north
The 24th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 24 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, North America and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes
Prime Meridian
The Prime Meridian is the meridian at which the longitude is defined to be 0°.The Prime Meridian and its opposite the 180th meridian , which the International Date Line generally follows, form a great circle that divides the Earth into the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.An international...

 and 16°E
16th meridian east
The meridian 16° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Europe, Africa, the Atlantic Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. Niger's area is 1267000 square kilometres (489,191 sq mi) of which 300 square kilometres (116 sq mi) is water. This makes it slightly less than twice the size of the US state of Texas, and the world's twenty-second largest country (after Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

).

Niger borders seven countries and has a total perimeter of 5697 kilometres (3,540 mi). The longest border is with Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 to the south (1497 km (930 mi)). This is followed by Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

 to the east, at 1175 km (730 mi), Algeria
Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

 to the north-northwest (956 km (594 mi)), and Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 at 821 km (510 mi). Niger also has small borders in its far southwest with Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso – also known by its short-form name Burkina – is a landlocked country in west Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the southwest.Its size is with an estimated...

 at 628 km (390 mi) and Benin
Benin
Benin , officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located...

 at 266 km (165 mi) and to the north-northeast Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 at 354 km (220 mi).

The lowest point is the Niger River
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

, with an elevation of 200 metres (656 ft). The highest point is Mont Idoukal-n-Taghès
Mont Idoukal-n-Taghès
Mont Idoukal-n-Taghès is the highest mountain in Niger. Mont Idoukal-n-Taghès is located in the south central Aïr Mountains, and is at the northern end of the Bagzane plateau. The village and pilgrimage site of Abatol sits at the base of the peak...

 in the Aïr Massif at 2022 m (6,634 ft).

Climate



Niger's subtropical climate is mainly very hot and dry, with much desert
Desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

 area. In the extreme south there is a tropical climate on the edges of the Niger River
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

 basin. The terrain is predominantly desert plains and sand dunes, with flat to rolling savanna in the south and hills in the north.

History


While most of what is now Niger has been subsumed into the inhospitable Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

 desert in the last two thousand years, five thousand years ago the north of the country was fertile grasslands. Populations of pastoralists
Pastoralism
Pastoralism or pastoral farming is the branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. It is animal husbandry: the care, tending and use of animals such as camels, goats, cattle, yaks, llamas, and sheep. It may have a mobile aspect, moving the herds in search of fresh pasture and...

 have left paintings of abundant wildlife, domesticated animals, chariots, and a complex culture that dates back to at least 10,000 BCE. Several former northern villages and archaeological sites date from the Green Sahara period of 7,500–7,000 to 3,500–3,000 BCE.

Early historical period



The Songhai Empire
Songhai Empire
The Songhai Empire, also known as the Songhay Empire, was a state located in western Africa. From the early 15th to the late 16th century, Songhai was one of the largest Islamic empires in history. This empire bore the same name as its leading ethnic group, the Songhai. Its capital was the city...

 expanded into what is modern Niger from the 15th century, reaching as far as Agadez
Agadez
-Sources:* Aboubacar Adamou. "Agadez et sa région. Contribution à l'étude du Sahel et du Sahara nigériens", Études nigériennes, n°44, , 358 p.* Julien Brachet. Migrations transsahariennes. Vers un désert cosmopolite et morcelé . Paris: Le Croquant, , 324 p. ISBN : 978-2-91496865-2.*. Saudi Aaramco...

 before its collapse in 1591, from which the modern Zarma and Songhai peoples trace their history. At its fall, portions of the empire and refugees from modern Mali formed a series of Songhai states, with the Dendi Kingdom
Dendi Kingdom
The Dendi Kingdom was a pre-colonial West African state in modern-day Niger founded by the Songhai people after the collapse of their empire Songhai.-The Rise & Fall of Gao:...

 becoming the most powerful. From the 13th century, the nomadic Tuareg formed large confederations, pushed southward, into the Aïr Mountains
Aïr Mountains
The Aïr Mountains is a triangular massif, located in northern Niger, within the Sahara desert...

, displacing some previous residents to the south. At their peak, the Tuareg confederations ruled most of what is now northern Niger, and extended their influence into modern Nigeria.

In the 18th century, Fula
Fula people
Fula people or Fulani or Fulbe are an ethnic group spread over many countries, predominantly in West Africa, but found also in Central Africa and Sudanese North Africa...

 pastoralists moved into the Liptako
Liptako
Liptako is an historic region of West Africa. It today falls in eastern Burkina Faso, southwestern Niger and a small portion of southeast central Mali. A hilly region beginning on the right back of the Niger river, Liptako is usually associated with the Liptako Emirate, an early 19th century...

 area of the west, while smaller Zarma kingdoms, siding with various Hausa
Hausa people
The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are a Sahelian people chiefly located in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, but having significant numbers living in regions of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Sudan...

 states, clashed with the expanding Fulani Empire
Fulani Empire
The Sokoto Caliphate is an Islamic spiritual community in Nigeria, led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Sa’adu Abubakar. Founded during the Fulani Jihad in 1809 by Usuman dan Fodio, it was one of the most powerful empires in sub-Saharan Africa prior to European conquest and colonization...

 of Sokoto
Sokoto
Sokoto is a city located in the extreme northwest of Nigeria, near to the confluence of the Sokoto River and the Rima River. As of 2006 it has a population of 427,760...

 from the south. The colonial border with British Nigeria was in part based on the rupture between the Sokoto Caliphate to the south, and Hausa ruling dynasties which had fled to the north. In the far east around the Lake Chad
Lake Chad
Lake Chad is a historically large, shallow, endorheic lake in Africa, whose size has varied over the centuries. According to the Global Resource Information Database of the United Nations Environment Programme, it shrank as much as 95% from about 1963 to 1998; yet it also states that "the 2007 ...

 basin, the successive expansion of the Kanem Empire
Kanem Empire
The Kanem Empire was located in the present countries of Chad, Nigeria and Libya. At its height it encompassed an area covering not only much of Chad, but also parts of southern Libya , eastern Niger and north-eastern Nigeria...

 and Bornu Empire
Bornu Empire
The Bornu Empire was an African state of Nigeria from 1396 to 1893. It was a continuation of the great Kanem Empire founded centuries earlier by the Sayfawa Dynasty...

 spread ethnically Kanuri and Toubou
Toubou
The Tubu are an ethnic group that live mainly in northern Chad, but also in Libya, Niger and Sudan....

 rulers and their subject states as far west as Zinder
Zinder
Zinder is the second largest city in Niger, with a population of 170,574 by 2005 was estimated to be over 200,000...

 and the Kaouar
Kaouar
The Kaouar, or Kaouar Cliffs is a north-south escarpment running some 150 km in north east Niger. Surrounded by the Ténéré desert and the dunes of the Erg of Bilma, easterly winds striking the 100 meter high escarpment of Kaouar provide easy access to groundwater for ten oases on the leeward side...

 Oases from the 10th to the 17th centuries.


In the 19th century, contact with the West began when the first European explorers—notably Mungo Park
Mungo Park (explorer)
Mungo Park was a Scottish explorer of the African continent. He was credited as being the first Westerner to encounter the Niger River.-Early life:...

 (British) and Heinrich Barth
Heinrich Barth
Heinrich Barth was a German explorer of Africa and scholar.Barth is one of the greatest of the European explorers of Africa, not necessarily because of the length of his travels or the time he spent alone without European company in Africa, but because of his singular character.-Biography:Barth...

 (German)—explored the area, searching for the source of the Niger River
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

. Although French efforts at "pacification
Peace
Peace is a state of harmony characterized by the lack of violent conflict. Commonly understood as the absence of hostility, peace also suggests the existence of healthy or newly healed interpersonal or international relationships, prosperity in matters of social or economic welfare, the...

" began before 1900, dissident ethnic groups, especially the desert Tuareg, were not fully subdued until 1922, when Niger became a French colony.

Niger's colonial history and development parallel that of other French West Africa
French West Africa
French West Africa was a federation of eight French colonial territories in Africa: Mauritania, Senegal, French Sudan , French Guinea , Côte d'Ivoire , Upper Volta , Dahomey and Niger...

n territories. France administered its West African colonies through a governor general in Dakar
Dakar
Dakar is the capital city and largest city of Senegal. It is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula on the Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city on the African mainland...

, Senegal, and governors in the individual territories, including Niger. In addition to conferring French citizenship on the inhabitants of the territories, the 1946 French constitution provided for decentralization of power and limited participation in political life for local advisory assemblies.

Early independence


A further revision in the organization of overseas territories occurred with the passage of the Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre) of 23 July 1956, followed by reorganizing measures enacted by the French Parliament early in 1957. In addition to removing voting inequalities, these laws provided for creation of governmental organs, assuring individual territories a large measure of self-government. After the establishment of the Fifth French Republic on 4 December 1958, Niger became an autonomous state within the French Community
French Community
The French Community was an association of states known in French simply as La Communauté. In 1958 it replaced the French Union, which had itself succeeded the French colonial empire in 1946....

. Following full independence on 3 August 1960, however, membership was allowed to lapse.

Single party and military rule (1961–1991)



For its first fourteen years as an independent state, Niger was run by a single-party civilian regime under the presidency of Hamani Diori
Hamani Diori
Hamani Diori was the first President of the Republic of Niger. He was appointed to that office in 1960, when Niger gained independence.- Youth :...

. In 1974, a combination of devastating drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

 and accusations of rampant corruption resulted in a coup d'état that overthrew the Diori regime. Col. Seyni Kountché
Seyni Kountché
Seyni Kountché was a Nigerien military officer who led a 1974 coup d'état that deposed the government of Niger's first president, Hamani Diori. He ruled the country as military head of state from 1974 to 1987...

 and a small military group ruled the country until Kountché's death in 1987.

He was succeeded by his Chief of Staff, Col. Ali Saibou
Ali Saibou
Ali Saibou was the third President of Niger from 1987 to 1993 succeeding the deceased Seyni Kountché.A member of the Djerma people, he was born in Dingajibanda, a village in the Ouallam arrondissement. Although from Kountché's home village, Saibou is not a cousin...

, who released political prisoner
Political prisoner
According to the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, a political prisoner is ‘someone who is in prison because they have opposed or criticized the government of their own country’....

s, liberalized some of Niger's laws and policies, and promulgated a new constitution, with the creation of a single party constitutional Second Republic. However, President Saibou's efforts to control political reforms failed in the face of union and student demands to institute a multi-party democratic system
Democracy
Democracy is generally defined as a form of government in which all adult citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives. Ideally, this includes equal participation in the proposal, development and passage of legislation into law...

. The Saibou regime acquiesced to these demands by the end of 1990.

New political parties and civic associations sprang up, and a national peace conference was convened in July 1991 to prepare the way for the adoption of a new constitution and the holding of free and fair elections. The debate was often contentious and accusatory, but under the leadership of Prof. André Salifou
André Salifou
André Salifou is a Nigerien politician, diplomat, and professor. He was President of the High Council of the Republic during the 1991–93 transitional period, Foreign Minister in 1996, and an unsuccessful presidential candidate in 1999....

, the conference developed a plan for a transition government.

Third Republic


This caretaker government was installed in November 1991 to manage the affairs of state until the institutions of the Third Republic were put into place in April 1993. While the economy deteriorated over the course of the transition, certain accomplishments stand out, including the successful conduct of a constitutional referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

; the adoption of key legislation such as the electoral and rural codes; and the holding of several free, fair, and non-violent nationwide elections. Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

 flourished with the appearance of several new independent newspapers.

The results of the January 1995 parliamentary election meant cohabitation between a rival president and prime minister; this led to governmental paralysis, which provided Col. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara
Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara
Colonel Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara was a military officer in the West African country of Niger who seized power in a January 1996 coup d'état and ruled the country until his assassination during the military coup of April 1999....

 a rationale to overthrow the Third Republic in January 1996.

Military rule and the Fourth Republic


While leading a military authority that ran the government (Conseil de Salut National) during a 6-month transition period, Baré enlisted specialists to draft a new constitution for a Fourth Republic announced in May 1996. Baré organized a presidential election in July 1996. While voting was still going on, he replaced the electoral commission. The new commission declared him the winner after the polls closed. His party won 57% of parliament seats in a flawed legislative election in November 1996.

When his efforts to justify his coup and subsequent questionable elections failed to convince donors to restore multilateral and bilateral
Bilateralism
Bilateralism consists of the political, economic, or cultural relations between two sovereign states. For example, free trade agreements signed by two states are examples of bilateral treaties. It is in contrast to unilateralism or multilateralism, which refers to the conduct of diplomacy by a...

 economic assistance, a desperate Baré ignored an international embargo
Embargo
An embargo is the partial or complete prohibition of commerce and trade with a particular country, in order to isolate it. Embargoes are considered strong diplomatic measures imposed in an effort, by the imposing country, to elicit a given national-interest result from the country on which it is...

 against Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 and sought Libyan funds to aid Niger's economy. In repeated violations of basic civil liberties by the regime, opposition leaders were imprisoned; journalists often arrested, and deported by an unofficial militia composed of police and military; and independent media offices were looted and burned.

As part of an initiative started under the 1991 national conference, however, the government signed peace accords in April 1995 with all, meaning Tuareg and Toubou
Toubou
The Tubu are an ethnic group that live mainly in northern Chad, but also in Libya, Niger and Sudan....

 groups that had been in rebellion since 1990. The Tuareg claimed they lacked attention and resources from the central government. The government agreed to absorb some former rebels into the military and, with French assistance, help others return to a productive civilian life.


Fifth Republic since 1999


On 9 April 1999, Baré was killed in a coup led by Maj. Daouda Malam Wanké
Daouda Malam Wanké
Daouda Malam Wanké was a military and political leader in Niger. He was a member of Hausa ethnic group.Wanké's year of birth is disputed. Many sources claim it is 1954 while others 1946.-Biography:...

, who established a transitional National Reconciliation Council to oversee the drafting of a constitution for a Fifth Republic with a French style semi-presidential system
Semi-presidential system
The semi-presidential system is a system of government in which a president and a prime minister are both active participants in the day-to-day administration of the state...

.

In votes that international observers found to be generally free and fair, the Nigerien electorate approved the new constitution in July 1999 and held legislative and presidential elections in October and November 1999. Heading a coalition of the National Movement for a Developing Society (MNSD) and the Democratic and Social Convention
Democratic and Social Convention
The Democratic and Social Convention - Rahama is a political party in Niger. It was founded in January 1991. In the 1993 presidential election, the party's leader, Mahamane Ousmane, was elected president...

 (CDS), Mamadou Tandja won the election.

In a February 2010 coup d'état
2010 Nigerien coup d'état
A coup d'état occurred in Niger on 18 February 2010. Soldiers attacked the presidential palace in Niamey under weapons fire at midday and captured President Mamadou Tandja, who was chairing a government meeting at the time...

, a military junta was established in response to Tandja's attempted extension of his political term through constitutional manipulation. The coup established a junta led by the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy
Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy
The Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy , led by Salou Djibo, is a military junta that staged a coup in Niger on 18 February 2010, deposing President Mamadou Tandja...

.

Politics



Niger's new constitution was approved in July 1999. It restored the semi-presidential system of government of the December 1992 constitution (Third Republic) in which the president of the republic, elected by universal suffrage
Universal suffrage
Universal suffrage consists of the extension of the right to vote to adult citizens as a whole, though it may also mean extending said right to minors and non-citizens...

 for a five-year term, and a prime minister named by the president share executive power
Executive Power
Executive Power is Vince Flynn's fifth novel, and the fourth to feature Mitch Rapp, an American agent that works for the CIA as an operative for a covert counter terrorism unit called the "Orion Team."-Plot summary:...

. As a reflection of Niger's increasing population, the unicameral National Assembly
National Assembly of Niger
The unicameral National Assembly of Niger is the country's sole legislative body. The National Assembly may propose laws and is required to approve all legislation.-History:...

 was expanded in 2004 to 113 deputies elected for a 5 year term under a majority system of representation. Political parties must attain at least 5% of the vote in order to gain a seat in the legislature.

The constitution also provides for the popular election of municipal and local officials, and the first-ever successful municipal elections took place on 24 July 2004. The National Assembly passed in June 2002 a series of decentralization bills. As a first step, administrative powers will be distributed among 265 communes (local councils); in later stages, regions and departments will be established as decentralized entities. A new electoral code was adopted to reflect the decentralization context. The country is currently divided into 8 regions, which are subdivided into 36 districts (departments). The chief administrator (Governor) in each department is appointed by the government and functions primarily as the local agent of the central authorities.

The current legislature elected in December 2004 contains seven political parties. President Mamadou Tandja was re-elected in December 2004 and reappointed Hama Amadou as Prime Minister. Mahamane Ousmane
Mahamane Ousmane
Mahamane Ousmane is a Nigerien politician. He was the first democratically elected and fourth President of Niger, serving from 16 April 1993 until his ouster in a military coup d'état on 27 January 1996. He has continued to run for President in each election since his ouster, and he was President...

, the head of the CDS, was re-elected President of the National Assembly (parliament) by his peers. The new second term government of the Fifth Republic took office on 30 December 2002. In August 2002, serious unrest within the military occurred in Niamey
Niamey
-Population:While Niamey's population has grown steadily since independence, the droughts of the early 1970s and 1980s, along with the economic crisis of the early 1980s, have propelled an exodus of rural inhabitants to Niger's largest city...

, Diffa
Diffa
Diffa is a city and Urban Commune in the extreme southeast of Niger, near that country's border with Nigeria, with a population of 23,600 . It is the administrative seat of both Diffa Region, and the smaller Diffa Department...

, and Nguigmi, but the government was able to restore order within several days.

In June 2007, Seyni Oumarou
Seyni Oumarou
Seyni Oumarou is a Nigerien politician who was Prime Minister of Niger from June 2007 to September 2009 and President of the National Assembly of Niger from November 2009 to February 2010. He is from the west of the country and is a member of the Djerma ethnic group...

 was nominated as the new Prime Minister after Hama Amadou was democratically forced out of office by the National Assembly through a motion of no confidence.

From 2007 to 2008, the Second Tuareg Rebellion took place in northern Niger, worsening economic prospects and shutting down political progress.

On 26 May 2009, President Tandja dissolved parliament after the country's constitutional court ruled against plans to hold a referendum
Referendum
A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, a law, the recall of an elected official or simply a specific government policy. It is a form of...

 on whether to allow him a third term in office. According to the constitution, a new parliament was elected within three months. This touched off a political struggle between Tandja, trying to extend his term-limited authority beyond 2009 through the establishment of a Sixth Republic, and his opponents who demanded that he step down at the end of his second term in December 2009. See 2009 Nigerien constitutional crisis
2009 Nigerien constitutional crisis
The 2009–2010 Nigerien constitutional crisis occurred in Niger due to a political conflict between President Mamadou Tandja and judicial and legislative bodies regarding the Constitutional referendum that opponents claimed was an attempt to extend his mandate beyond the constitutional maximum...

. The military took over the country and President Tandja was put in prison, charged with corruption.

The military have so far carried out their promise to return the country to democratic civilian rule. A constitutional referendum and national elections have been held. A presidential election was held on on 31 January 2011, but as no clear winner emerged, run-off elections were held in March 2011. A parliamentary election was held at the same time.

Regions, departments, and communes



Niger is divided into 7 Regions
Regions of Niger
||Niger is divided into 7 Regions . Each department's capital is the same as its name.-Current regions:*Agadez Region*Diffa Region*Dosso Region*Maradi Region*Tahoua Region*Tillabéri Region*Zinder Region...

 and one capital district. These Regions are subdivided into 36 departments
Departments of Niger
||The Regions of Niger are subdivided into 63 Departments . Before the devolution program on 1999-2005, these Departments were styled arrondissements. Confusingly, the next level up had, before 2002-2005 been styled Departments. Prior to a revision in 2011, there had been 36 Departments. A draft...

. The 36 Departments are currently broken down into Communes of varying types. As of 2006 there were 265 communes, including communes urbaines (Urban Communes: as subdivisions of major cities), communes rurales (Rural Communes, in sparsely populated areas and postes administratifs (Administrative Posts) for largely uninhabited desert areas or military zones.

Rural communes may contain official villages and settlements, while Urban Communes are divided into quarters. Niger subvisions were renamed in 2002, in the implementation of a decentralisation project, first begun in 1998. Previously, Niger was divided into 7 Departments, 36 Arrondissements, and Communes. These subdivisions were administered by officials appointed by the national government. These offices will be replaced in the future by democratically elected councils at each level.

The pre-2002 departments (renamed as regions) and capital district :
  • Agadez Region
  • Diffa Region
  • Dosso Region
  • Maradi Region
  • Tahoua Region
  • Tillabéri Region
  • Zinder Region
  • Niamey
    Niamey
    -Population:While Niamey's population has grown steadily since independence, the droughts of the early 1970s and 1980s, along with the economic crisis of the early 1980s, have propelled an exodus of rural inhabitants to Niger's largest city...

     

Foreign relations


Niger pursues a moderate foreign policy and maintains friendly relations with the West and the Islamic world as well as nonaligned countries. It belongs to the UN and its main specialized agencies and in 1980–81 served on the UN Security Council. Niger maintains a special relationship with former colonial power France and enjoys close relations with its West African neighbors.

It is a charter member of the African Union
African Union
The African Union is a union consisting of 54 African states. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established on 9 July 2002, the AU was formed as a successor to the Organisation of African Unity...

 and the West African Monetary Union and also belongs to the Niger Basin Authority
Niger Basin Authority
The Niger Basin Authority is an intergovernmental organisation in West Africa aiming to foster co-operation in managing and developing the resources of the basin of the River Niger...

 and Lake Chad Basin Commission
Lake Chad Basin Commission
The Lake Chad Basin Commission is an intergovernmental organization of the countries nearest to Lake Chad which coordinates actions that might affect the waters of Lake Chad. The organization's secretariat is located in N'Djamena, Chad...

, the Economic Community of West African States
Economic Community of West African States
The Economic Community of West African States is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. Founded on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, its mission is to promote economic integration across the region....

, the Non-Aligned Movement
Non-Aligned Movement
The Non-Aligned Movement is a group of states considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc. As of 2011, the movement had 120 members and 17 observer countries...

, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA
Ohada
OHADA is a system of business laws and implementing institutions adopted by sixteen West and Central African nations. OHADA is the French acronym for "Organisation pour l'Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires", which translates into English as "Organisation for the Harmonization of...

). The westernmost regions of Niger are joined with contiguous regions Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

 and Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso – also known by its short-form name Burkina – is a landlocked country in west Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the southwest.Its size is with an estimated...

 under the Liptako-Gourma Authority
Liptako-Gourma Authority
The Liptako–Gourma Authority is a regional organization seeking to develop the contiguous areas of Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.Created in December 1970, the Authority has as its goal the promotion of the areas mineral, energy, hydraulic, and agricultural resources within a regional framework...

.

The border dispute with Benin, inherited from colonial times and concerning inter alia Lete Island
Lete Island
Lété Island is an island in the River Niger approx. 16 kilometres long and 4 kilometres wide, located around 40 kilometres from the town of Gaya, Niger. Together with other smaller islands in the River Niger, it was the main object of a territorial dispute between Niger and Benin, which began when...

 in the River Niger was finally solved by the ICJ in 2005 to Niger's advantage.

Military



The Niger Armed Forces total 12,000 personnel with approximately 3,700 gendarmes
Gendarmerie
A gendarmerie or gendarmery is a military force charged with police duties among civilian populations. Members of such a force are typically called "gendarmes". The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary describes a gendarme as "a soldier who is employed on police duties" and a "gendarmery, -erie" as...

, 300 air force, and 6,000 army personnel. The air force has four operational transport aircraft. The armed forces include general staff and battalion task force organizations consisting of two paratroop units, four light armored units, and nine motorized infantry units located in Tahoua, Agadez, Dirkou, Zinder, Nguigmi, N'Gourti, and Madewela. Since January 2003, Niger has deployed a company of troops to Côte d’Ivoire as part of the ECOWAS stabilization force. In 1991, Niger sent four hundred military personnel to join the American-led allied forces against Iraq during the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

.

Niger's defense budget is modest, accounting for about 1.6% of government expenditures. France provides the largest share of military assistance to Niger. Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, Algeria, China, and Libya have also provided military assistance. Approximately 15 French military advisers are in Niger. Many Nigerien military personnel receive training in France, and the Nigerien Armed Forces are equipped mainly with military hardware either sold or donated by France.

In the past, U.S. assistance focused on training pilots and aviation support personnel, professional military education for staff officers, and initial specialty training for junior officers. A small foreign military assistance program was initiated in 1983. A U.S. Defense Attaché office opened in June 1985 and assumed Security Assistance Office responsibilities in 1987. The office closed in 1996 following a coup d'état. A U.S. Defense Attaché office reopened in July 2000. The United States provided transportation and logistical assistance to Nigerien troops deployed to Cote d’Ivoire in 2003. Additionally, the U.S. provided initial equipment training on vehicles and communications gear to a select contingent of Nigerien soldiers as part of the Department of State Pan Sahel Initiative
Pan Sahel Initiative
The Pan-Sahel Initiative, according to a November 7, 2002, by the Office of Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State, was "a State-led effort to assist Mali, Niger, Chad, and Mauritania in detecting and responding to suspicious movement of people and goods across and within their borders through...

.

In February 2010, the army of Niger staged another coup d'état
2010 Nigerien coup d'état
A coup d'état occurred in Niger on 18 February 2010. Soldiers attacked the presidential palace in Niamey under weapons fire at midday and captured President Mamadou Tandja, who was chairing a government meeting at the time...

, that ousted President Tandja Mamadou
Tandja Mamadou
Lieutenant Colonel Mamadou Tandja is a Nigerien politician who was President of Niger from 1999 to 2010. He was President of the National Movement of the Development Society from 1991 to 1999 and unsuccessfully ran as the MNSD's presidential candidate in 1993 and 1996 before being elected to his...

, who had been behaving in an increasingly dictatorial fashion. The army claims to be acting toward the restoration of democracy
Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy
The Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy , led by Salou Djibo, is a military junta that staged a coup in Niger on 18 February 2010, deposing President Mamadou Tandja...

.

Transport




Transport is crucial to the economy and culture of this vast landlocked nation, with cities separated by huge uninhabited deserts, mountain ranges, and other natural features. Niger's transport system was little developed during the colonial period
History of Niger
This is the history of Niger. See also the history of Africa and the history of West Africa.-Pre-historic Niger:Humans have lived in what is now Niger from the earliest times...

 (1899–1960), relying upon animal transport, human transport, and limited river transport in the far south west and south east.

No railways were constructed in the colonial period, and most roads outside the capital remained unpaved. The Niger River
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

 is unsuitable for river transport of any large scale, as it lacks depth for most of the year, and is broken by rapids at many spots. Camel caravan transport was historically important in the Sahara desert and Sahel
Sahel
The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian Savannas in the south.It stretches across the North African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea....

 regions which cover most of the north.

Road


Road transport, especially shared taxis, buses, and trucks, are the primary form of long distance transport for most Nigeriens. There were 10,100 km of roads in the nation in 1996, but only 798 km were paved. Most of this total was in large cities and in two main highways. The first major paved highway was constructed in the 1970s and 80s to transport uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 from the far northern mining town of Arlit
Arlit
Arlit is an industrial town and capital of the Arlit Department of the Agadez Region of northern-central Niger, built between the Sahara desert and the eastern edge of the Aïr mountains. It is 200 km south by road from the border with Algeria...

 to the Benin
Benin
Benin , officially the Republic of Benin, is a country in West Africa. It borders Togo to the west, Nigeria to the east and Burkina Faso and Niger to the north. Its small southern coastline on the Bight of Benin is where a majority of the population is located...

 border. (Much of Niger's export economy relies upon ports in Cotonou
Cotonou
-Demographics:*1979: 320,348 *1992: 536,827 *2002: 665,100 *2005: 690,584 The main languages spoken in Cotonou include the Fon language, Aja language, Yoruba language and French.-Transport:...

, Lomé
Lomé
Lomé, with an estimated population of 737,751, is the capital and largest city of Togo. Located on the Gulf of Guinea, Lomé is the country's administrative and industrial center and its chief port. The city exports coffee, cocoa, copra, and palm kernels...

, and Port Harcourt.) This road, dubbed the Uranium Highway runs through Arlit
Arlit
Arlit is an industrial town and capital of the Arlit Department of the Agadez Region of northern-central Niger, built between the Sahara desert and the eastern edge of the Aïr mountains. It is 200 km south by road from the border with Algeria...

, Agadez
Agadez
-Sources:* Aboubacar Adamou. "Agadez et sa région. Contribution à l'étude du Sahel et du Sahara nigériens", Études nigériennes, n°44, , 358 p.* Julien Brachet. Migrations transsahariennes. Vers un désert cosmopolite et morcelé . Paris: Le Croquant, , 324 p. ISBN : 978-2-91496865-2.*. Saudi Aaramco...

, Tahoua
Tahoua
Tahoua is a city in Niger and the administrative center of the Department of Tahoua and the larger Tahoua Region. It has a population of 99,900 . The city is primarily a market town for the surrounding agricultural area, and a meeting place for the Tuareg people from the north and the Fulani people...

, Birnin-Konni, and Niamey
Niamey
-Population:While Niamey's population has grown steadily since independence, the droughts of the early 1970s and 1980s, along with the economic crisis of the early 1980s, have propelled an exodus of rural inhabitants to Niger's largest city...

, and is part of the Trans-Sahara Highway
Trans-Sahara Highway
The Trans-Sahara Highway is a transnational highway project to pave, improve and ease border formalities on an existing trade route across the Sahara Desert...

 system. The paved RN1 ("Routes Nationale") runs east-west across the south of the nation, from Niamey via Maradi and Zinder
Zinder
Zinder is the second largest city in Niger, with a population of 170,574 by 2005 was estimated to be over 200,000...

 towards Diffa
Diffa
Diffa is a city and Urban Commune in the extreme southeast of Niger, near that country's border with Nigeria, with a population of 23,600 . It is the administrative seat of both Diffa Region, and the smaller Diffa Department...

 in the far east of the nation, although the stretch from Zinder to Diffa is only partially paved. Other roads range from all-weather laterite surfaces to grated dirt or sand piste
Piste
A piste is a marked ski run or path down a mountain for snow skiing, snowboarding, or other mountain sports. The term is European, from the French for trail or track, synonymous with trail, slope, or groomed run in North America....

s, especially in the desert north. These form a more extensive numbered highway system.

Air transport


Niger's main international airport
International airport
An international airport is any airport that can accommodate flights from other countries and are typically equipped with customs and immigration facilities to handle these flights to and from other countries...

 is Diori Hamani International Airport
Diori Hamani International Airport
Diori Hamani International Airport is an airport in Niamey, the capital of Niger. It is located in the south eastern suburbs of the city, along the Route Nationale 1, the major highway linking Niamey with the east of the nation. The airport complex also includes the major base for the Armed Forces...

 at Niamey. Other airports in Niger include Mano Dayak International Airport
Mano Dayak International Airport
Mano Dayak International Airport is an airport in Agadez in Niger.- External links :*...

 at Agadez
Agadez
-Sources:* Aboubacar Adamou. "Agadez et sa région. Contribution à l'étude du Sahel et du Sahara nigériens", Études nigériennes, n°44, , 358 p.* Julien Brachet. Migrations transsahariennes. Vers un désert cosmopolite et morcelé . Paris: Le Croquant, , 324 p. ISBN : 978-2-91496865-2.*. Saudi Aaramco...

 and Zinder Airport
Zinder Airport
- Airlines and destinations :There are currently no scheduled airlines serving the airport .-Former airlines and destinations:...

 near Zinder
Zinder
Zinder is the second largest city in Niger, with a population of 170,574 by 2005 was estimated to be over 200,000...

.

Economy




The economy of Niger centers on subsistence crops, livestock, and some of the world's largest uranium deposits. Drought cycles, desertification, a 2.9% population growth rate, and the drop in world demand for uranium have undercut the economy.

Niger shares a common currency, the CFA franc
CFA franc
The CFA franc is the name of two currencies used in Africa which are guaranteed by the French treasury. The two CFA franc currencies are the West African CFA franc and the Central African CFA franc...

, and a common central bank, the Central Bank of West African States
Central Bank of West African States
The Central Bank of West African States is a central bank serving the eight west African countries which comprise the West African Economic and Monetary Union:*Benin*Burkina Faso*Cote d'Ivoire*Guinea Bissau*Mali*Niger*Senegal*Togo-See also:...

 (BCEAO), with seven other members of the West African Monetary Union. Niger is also a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA
Ohada
OHADA is a system of business laws and implementing institutions adopted by sixteen West and Central African nations. OHADA is the French acronym for "Organisation pour l'Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires", which translates into English as "Organisation for the Harmonization of...

).

In December 2000, Niger qualified for enhanced debt relief under the International Monetary Fund program for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries
Heavily Indebted Poor Countries is a group of 40 developing countries with high levels of poverty and debt overhang which are eligible for special assistance from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.- History and structure :...

 (HIPC) and concluded an agreement with the Fund for Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
The Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility is an arm of the International Monetary Fund which lends to the world's poorest countries. It was created in September 1999, replacing the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility....

 (PRGF). Debt relief provided under the enhanced HIPC initiative significantly reduces Niger's annual debt service obligations, freeing funds for expenditures on basic health care, primary education, HIV/AIDS prevention, rural infrastructure, and other programs geared at poverty reduction.

In December 2005, it was announced that Niger had received 100% multilateral debt relief
Debt relief
Debt relief is the partial or total forgiveness of debt, or the slowing or stopping of debt growth, owed by individuals, corporations, or nations. From antiquity through the 19th century, it refers to domestic debts, in particular agricultural debts and freeing of debt slaves...

 from the IMF, which translates into the forgiveness of approximately $86 million USD in debts to the IMF, excluding the remaining assistance under HIPC. Nearly half of the government's budget is derived from foreign donor resources. Future growth may be sustained by exploitation of oil, gold, coal, and other mineral resources. Uranium prices have recovered somewhat in the last few years. A drought and locust infestation in 2005 led to food shortages for as many as 2.5 million Nigeriens.

Agriculture




The agricultural economy is based largely upon internal markets, subsistence agriculture, and the export of raw commodities: food stuffs and cattle to neighbors.
Niger's agricultural and livestock sectors are the mainstay of all but 18% of the population. Fourteen percent of Niger's GDP is generated by livestock production (camels, goats, sheep and cattle), said to support 29% of the population. Thus 53% of the population is actively involved in crop production. The 15% of Niger's land that is arable is found mainly along its southern border with Nigeria.



In these areas, Pearl millet
Pearl millet
Pearl millet is the most widely grown type of millet. Grown in Africa and the Indian subcontinent since prehistoric times, it is generally accepted that pearl millet originated in Africa and was subsequently introduced into India. The center of diversity, and suggested area of domestication, for...

, sorghum
Sorghum
Sorghum is a genus of numerous species of grasses, one of which is raised for grain and many of which are used as fodder plants either cultivated or as part of pasture. The plants are cultivated in warmer climates worldwide. Species are native to tropical and subtropical regions of all continents...

, and cassava
Cassava
Cassava , also called yuca or manioc, a woody shrub of the Euphorbiaceae native to South America, is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates...

 are the principal rain-fed subsistence crops. Irrigated rice for internal consumption is grown in parts of the Niger River
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

 valley in the west. While expensive, it has, since the devaluation of the CFA franc, sold for below the price of imported rice, encouraging additional production. Cowpea
Cowpea
The Cowpea is one of several species of the widely cultivated genus Vigna. Four cultivated subspecies are recognised:*Vigna unguiculata subsp. cylindrica Catjang...

s and onions are grown for commercial export, as are small quantities of garlic, peppers
Capsicum
Capsicum is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas where they have been cultivated for thousands of years, but they are now also cultivated worldwide, used as spices, vegetables, and medicines - and have become are a key element in...

, potatoes, and wheat. Oasis farming in small patches of the north of the country produces onions, dates, and some market vegetables for export.

But for the most part, rural residents engaged in crop tending are clustered in the south centre and south west of the nation, in those areas (the Sahel
Sahel
The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian Savannas in the south.It stretches across the North African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea....

) which can expect to receive between 300 to 600 mm (11.8 to 23.6 ) of rainfall annually. A small area in the southern tip of the nation, surrounding Gaya
Gaya, Niger
Gaya is a city in the Dosso Region of Niger. The city is situated 254 km southeast of the capital, Niamey, is located on the banks of the Niger River, and is near the borders with Benin and Nigeria. Gaya has a population of 28,385 . The wettest area in Niger, Gaya averages 800 mm in...

 can expect to receive 700 to 900 mm (27.6 to 35.4 ) or rainfall. Northern areas which support crops, such as the southern portions of the Aïr Massif and the Kaouar oasis rely upon oases and a slight increase in rainfall due to mountain effects. Large portions of the northwest and far east of the nation, while within the Sahara desert, see just enough seasonal rainfall to support semi-nomadic animal husbandry. The populations of these areas, mostly Tuareg, Wodaabe
Wodaabe
The Wodaabe or Bororo are a small subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group. They are traditionally nomadic cattle-herders and traders in the Sahel, with migrations stretching from southern Niger, through northern Nigeria, northeastern Cameroon, and the western region of the Central African Republic....

 – Fula
Fula people
Fula people or Fulani or Fulbe are an ethnic group spread over many countries, predominantly in West Africa, but found also in Central Africa and Sudanese North Africa...

, and Toubou
Toubou
The Tubu are an ethnic group that live mainly in northern Chad, but also in Libya, Niger and Sudan....

, travel south (a process called Transhumance
Transhumance
Transhumance is the seasonal movement of people with their livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. In montane regions it implies movement between higher pastures in summer and to lower valleys in winter. Herders have a permanent home, typically in valleys. Only the herds travel, with...

) to pasture and sell animals in the dry season, north into the Sahara in the brief rainy season.

Rainfall varies and when insufficient, Niger has difficulty feeding its population and must rely on grain purchases and food aid to meet food requirements. Rains, as in much of the Sahel
Sahel
The Sahel is the ecoclimatic and biogeographic zone of transition between the Sahara desert in the North and the Sudanian Savannas in the south.It stretches across the North African continent between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea....

, have been marked by annual variability. This has been especially true in the 20th century, with the most severe drought on record
Sahel drought
[[File:Greening Sahel 1982-1999.jpg|thumb|300px|Recent "Greening" of the Sahel: The results of trend analyses of time series over the Sahel region of seasonally integrated NDVI using NOAA AVHRR NDVI-data from 1982 to 1999...

 beginning in the late 1960s and lasting, with one break, well into the 1980s. The long term effect of this, especially to pastoralist populations remains in the 21st century, with those communities which rely upon cattle, sheep, and camels husbandry losing entire herds more than once during this period. Recent rains remain variable. For instance, the rains in 2000 were not good, those in 2001 were plentiful and well distributed.

The Kandadji Dam
Kandadji dam
The Kandadji dam when completed, will be a large multipurpose dam on the Niger River. The site is situated near the small town of Kandadji, Tillabéri Department, Tillabéri Region, Niger, 180 km northwest of the capital Niamey. Construction of the dam was begun in August 2008...

 on the Niger River, whose construction started in August 2008, is expected to improve agricultural production in the Tillaberi Department
Tillabéri Department
Tillabéri is a department of the Tillabéri Region in Niger. Its capital lies at the city of Tillabéri, and contains the Communes of Ayorou , Anzourou, Dessa, Kourteye, and Sinder. Tillabéri is also the capitol of Tillabéri Region...

 by providing water for the irrigation of 6,000 hectares initially and of 45,000 hectares by 2034.

Exports


Uranium is Niger's largest export. Foreign exchange earnings from livestock, although difficult to quantify, are second. Actual exports far exceed official statistics, which often fail to detect large herds of animals informally crossing into Nigeria. Some hides and skins are exported, and some are transformed into handicrafts. Substantial deposits of phosphates, coal, iron, limestone
Limestone
Limestone is a sedimentary rock composed largely of the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate . Many limestones are composed from skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral or foraminifera....

, and gypsum
Gypsum
Gypsum is a very soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate, with the chemical formula CaSO4·2H2O. It is found in alabaster, a decorative stone used in Ancient Egypt. It is the second softest mineral on the Mohs Hardness Scale...

 also have been found in Niger.

Uranium



The persistent uranium
Uranium
Uranium is a silvery-white metallic chemical element in the actinide series of the periodic table, with atomic number 92. It is assigned the chemical symbol U. A uranium atom has 92 protons and 92 electrons, of which 6 are valence electrons...

 price slump has brought lower revenues for Niger's uranium sector, although uranium still provides 72% of national export proceeds. The nation enjoyed substantial export earnings and rapid economic growth during the 1960s and 1970s after the opening of two large uranium mines near the northern town of Arlit. When the uranium-led boom ended in the early 1980s, however, the economy stagnated, and new investment since then has been limited. Niger's two uranium mines—SOMAIR's open pit mine and COMINAK's underground mine—are owned by a French-led consortium and operated by French interests. However, as of 2007, many licences have been given to other companies from countries such as India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Canada and Australia in order to exploit new deposits.

Gold


Exploitable deposits of gold are known to exist in Niger in the region between the Niger River and the border with Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso – also known by its short-form name Burkina – is a landlocked country in west Africa. It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Côte d'Ivoire to the southwest.Its size is with an estimated...

. On 5 October 2004, President Tandja announced the official opening of the Samira Hill Gold Mine
Samira Hill Gold Mine
The Samira Hill Gold Mine is a Gold mine in Téra Department of the Tillabéri Region in Niger. Opened in late 2004, it is the first industrial scale gold mine in the nation, and while operated by a Canadian/Moroccan consortia, the government of Niger owns both a 20% stake in its operation, and...

 in Tera Department
Tera Department
Téra is a department of the Tillabéri Region in Niger. Its capital lies at the city of Téra.-History:Téra Department covers most of the historic territory of Liptako. Today primarily a home to speakers of the Southern Songhai language, prior to the Songhai Empire, the area was populated by...

 and the first Nigerien gold ingot
Ingot
An ingot is a material, usually metal, that is cast into a shape suitable for further processing. Non-metallic and semiconductor materials prepared in bulk form may also be referred to as ingots, particularly when cast by mold based methods.-Uses:...

 was presented to him. This marked a historical moment for Niger as the Samira Hill Gold Mine represents the first commercial gold production in the country.

Samira Hill is owned by a company called SML (Societe des Mines du Liptako) which is a joint venture between a Moroccan company, Societe Semafo
Societe Semafo
Semafo Inc. is a mining company active in West Africa. Semafo operates active gold mines: at the Mana gold field in Burkina Faso, at Kiniero in Guinea, and at Samira Hill in Niger. In 2008 Semafo's operations produced some 195,500 ounces of gold...

, and a Canadian company, Etruscan Resources
Etruscan Resources
Endeavour Mining Corporation is a mining company based in Nova Scotia, in Canada, that operates gold and diamond mines in Africa.Etruscan mines gold and diamonds in the West African countries of Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Mali and Niger...

. Both companies own 80% (40% – 40%) of SML and the Government of Niger 20%. The first year's production is predicted to be 135,000 troy ounces
Troy weight
Troy weight is a system of units of mass customarily used for precious metals, gemstones, and black powder.There are 12 troy ounces per troy pound, rather than the 16 ounces per pound found in the more common avoirdupois system. The troy ounce is 480 grains, compared with the avoirdupois ounce,...

 (4,200 kg; 9,260 lb avoirdupois
Avoirdupois
The avoirdupois system is a system of weights based on a pound of 16 ounces. It is the everyday system of weight used in the United States and is still widely used to varying degrees by many people in Canada, the United Kingdom, and some other former British colonies despite the official adoption...

) of gold at a cash value of USD 177 per ounce ($5.70/g). The mine reserves for the Samira Hill mine total 10,073,626 tons at an average grade of 2.21 grams per ton from which 618,000 troy ounces (19,200 kg; 42,400 lb) will be recovered over a 6 year mine life. SML believes to have a number of significant gold deposits within what is now recognized as the gold belt known as the "Samira Horizon", which is located between Gotheye
Gothèye
-References:...

 and Ouallam
Ouallam
Ouallam is a town in southwestern Niger. It is around 300 km north of Niamey, is the capital of Ouallam Department, one of four in the Tillabery Region.-Culture:...

.

Coal


The parastatal SONICHAR (Societe Nigerienne de Charbon) in Tchirozerine (north of Agadez) extracts coal from an open pit and fuels an electricity generating plant that supplies energy to the uranium mines. There are additional coal deposits to the south and west that are of a higher quality and may be exploitable.

Oil



Niger has oil potential. In 1992, the Djado permit was awarded to Hunt Oil Company
Hunt Oil Company
Hunt Oil Company is an independent oil and gas company headquartered in Dallas, Texas. It has its main oil production activities in the United States, Canada, and Yemen. It also participates in the liquefied natural gas production projects in Yemen and Peru .Together with Magnum Hunter Resources...

, and in 2003 the Tenere
Ténéré
The Ténéré is a desert region in the south central Sahara. It comprises a vast plain of sand stretching from northeastern Niger into western Chad, occupying an area of over...

 permit was awarded to the China National Petroleum. An ExxonMobil
ExxonMobil
Exxon Mobil Corporation or ExxonMobil, is an American multinational oil and gas corporation. It is a direct descendant of John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil company, and was formed on November 30, 1999, by the merger of Exxon and Mobil. Its headquarters are in Irving, Texas...

-Petronas
Petronas
PETRONAS, short for Petroliam Nasional Berhad, is a Malaysian oil and gas company that was founded on August 17, 1974. Wholly owned by the Government of Malaysia, the corporation is vested with the entire oil and gas resources in Malaysia and is entrusted with the responsibility of developing and...

 joint venture was sold sole rights to the Agadem block, in the Diffa Region north of Lake Chad
Lake Chad
Lake Chad is a historically large, shallow, endorheic lake in Africa, whose size has varied over the centuries. According to the Global Resource Information Database of the United Nations Environment Programme, it shrank as much as 95% from about 1963 to 1998; yet it also states that "the 2007 ...

, but never went beyond exploration.

In June 2008, the government transferred the Agadem block rights to CNPC. Niger announced that in exchange for the USD$5 billion investment, the Chinese company would build wells, 11 of which would open by 2012, a 20000 oilbbl/d refinery near Zinder
Zinder
Zinder is the second largest city in Niger, with a population of 170,574 by 2005 was estimated to be over 200,000...

 and a pipeline out of the nation. The government estimates the area has reserves of 324 Moilbbl, and is seeking further oil in the Tenere Desert and near Bilma
Bilma
Bilma is an oasis town in north east Niger with a population of around 2,500 people. It lies protected from the desert dunes under the Kaouar Cliffs and is the largest town along the Kaouar escarpment...

. Niger has said that it hopes to produce its first barrels of oil for sale by 2009.

Growth rates


The economic competitiveness created by the January 1994 devaluation of the Communauté Financière Africaine (CFA) franc
CFA franc
The CFA franc is the name of two currencies used in Africa which are guaranteed by the French treasury. The two CFA franc currencies are the West African CFA franc and the Central African CFA franc...

 contributed to an annual average economic growth of 3.5% throughout the mid-1990s. But the economy stagnated due to the sharp reduction in foreign aid in 1999 (which gradually resumed in 2000) and poor rains in 2000. Reflecting the importance of the agricultural sector, the return of good rains was the primary factor underlying economic growth of 5.1% in 2000, 3.1% in 2001, 6.0% in 2002, and 3.0% in 2003.

In recent years, the Government of Niger drafted revisions to the investment code (1997 and 2000), petroleum code (1992), and mining code (1993), all with attractive terms for investors. The present government actively seeks foreign private investment and considers it key to restoring economic growth and development. With the assistance of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), it has undertaken a concerted effort to revitalize the private sector.


Economic restructuring and debt


In January 2000, Niger's newly elected government inherited serious financial and economic problems including a virtually empty treasury, past-due salaries (11 months of arrears) and scholarship payments, increased debt, reduced revenue performance, and lower public investment. In December 2000, Niger qualified for enhanced debt relief under the International Monetary Fund
International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund is an organization of 187 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world...

 program for Highly Indebted Poor Countries and concluded an agreement with the Fund on a Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
The Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility is an arm of the International Monetary Fund which lends to the world's poorest countries. It was created in September 1999, replacing the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility....

 (PRGF).

In addition to changes in the budgetary process and public finances, the new government has pursued economic restructuring towards the IMF promoted privatization
Privatization
Privatization is the incidence or process of transferring ownership of a business, enterprise, agency or public service from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations...

 model. This has included the privatization of water distribution and telecommunications and the removal of price protections for petroleum products, allowing prices to be set by world market prices. Further privatizations of public enterprises are in the works.

In its effort to comply with the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility
The Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility is an arm of the International Monetary Fund which lends to the world's poorest countries. It was created in September 1999, replacing the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility....

 plan, the government also is taking actions to reduce corruption and, as the result of a participatory process encompassing civil society, has devised a Poverty Reduction Strategy Plan that focuses on improving health, primary education
Education in Niger
Education in Niger like that of other developing nations, particularly in the Sahelian region of Africa, faces challenges from poverty and poor access to schools. Niger has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world.-Primary education:...

, rural infrastructure, and judicial
Judiciary of Niger
The current Judiciary of Niger was established with the creation of the Fourth Republic in 1999. The constitution of December 1992 was revised by national referendum on 12 May 1996 and, again, by referendum, revised to the current version on 18 July 1999...

 restructuring. A long planned privitisation of the Nigerien power company, NIGELEC
NIGELEC
NIGELEC is the Parastatal electric power generation and transmission utility in Niger. It is majority owned by the Government of Niger and was founded in 1968. In 2006 NIGELEC had 178964 subscribers and 300 electrified centers...

, failed in 2001 and again in 2003 due to inaudibility to line up buyers. SONITEL
SONITEL
SONITEL is the Nigerien national telephone and telecommunications carrier...

, the nation's telephone operator, hived of the post office and privatised in 2001, was renationalised in 2009.

Privatization and economic liberalization
Economic liberalization
Economic liberalization is a very broad term that usually refers to fewer government regulations and restrictions in the economy in exchange for greater participation of private entities; the doctrine is associated with classical liberalism...

 have however also been the subject of strong criticism. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, for instance, has noted that privatization affects the poorest and most vulnerable members of Niger's society. Critics have argued that the obligations to creditor institutions and governments have locked Niger in to a process of trade liberalization that is harmful for small farmers and in particular, rural women.

Foreign Aid


The most important donors in Niger are France, the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

, the IMF and other United Nations agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, FAO
Fão
Fão is a town in Esposende Municipality in Portugal....

, WFP, and UNFPA). Other principal donors include the United States, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Canada, and Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. While USAID does not have an office in Niger, the United States is a major donor, contributing nearly $10 million each year to Niger's development.

The U.S. also is a major partner in policy coordination in such areas as food security and HIV/AIDS. The importance of external support for Niger's development is demonstrated by the fact that about 45% of the government's FY 2002 budget, including 80% of its capital budget, derives from donor resources. In 2005 the UN drew attention to the increased need for foreign aid given severe problems with drought
Drought
A drought is an extended period of months or years when a region notes a deficiency in its water supply. Generally, this occurs when a region receives consistently below average precipitation. It can have a substantial impact on the ecosystem and agriculture of the affected region...

 and locusts resulting in the 2005–06 Niger food crisis, endangering the lives around a million people.

2010 famine



In June to August, 2010, famine struck the Sahel. Niger's crops to failed to mature in the heat and famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

 developed. 350,000 faced starvation and 1,200,000 were at risk of famine
Famine
A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, overpopulation, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality. Every continent in the world has...

. In Chad, the temperature reached 47.6 °C (118 °F) on 22 June in Faya-Largeau
Faya-Largeau
Located in the Sahara, Faya's climate is classed as hot desert on the Köppen climate classification. It experiences hot winters and very hot summers with the peak average maximum temperature reaching in May and the average minimum reaching its lowest in January at . Rainfall averages out at about...

, breaking a record set in 1961 at the same location. Niger tied its highest temperature record set in 1998, on also 22 June, at 47.1 °C (117 °F) in Bilma
Bilma
Bilma is an oasis town in north east Niger with a population of around 2,500 people. It lies protected from the desert dunes under the Kaouar Cliffs and is the largest town along the Kaouar escarpment...

. That record was broken the next day, on 23 June when Bilma hit 48.2 °C (119 °F). The hottest temperature recorded in Sudan was reached on 25 June, at 49.6 °C (121 °F) in Dongola
Dongola
Dongola , also spelled Dunqulah, and formerly known as Al 'Urdi, is the capital of the state of Northern in Sudan, on the banks of the Nile. It should not be confused with Old Dongola, an ancient city located 80 km upstream on the opposite bank....

, breaking a record set in 1987. Niger reported diarrhoea, starvation, gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis
Gastroenteritis is marked by severe inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract involving both the stomach and small intestine resulting in acute diarrhea and vomiting. It can be transferred by contact with contaminated food and water...

, malnutrition
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

 and respiratory diseases killed and sickened many children 14 July. The new military junta
Military junta
A junta or military junta is a government led by a committee of military leaders. The term derives from the Spanish language junta meaning committee, specifically a board of directors...

 is appealing for international food aid and has taken serious steps to calling over seas help since coming to office in February 2010. On 26 July the heat reached near record levels over Chad
Chad
Chad , officially known as the Republic of Chad, is a landlocked country in Central Africa. It is bordered by Libya to the north, Sudan to the east, the Central African Republic to the south, Cameroon and Nigeria to the southwest, and Niger to the west...

 and Niger.

Demographics



Over half the population of Niger belong to the Hausa
Hausa people
The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are a Sahelian people chiefly located in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, but having significant numbers living in regions of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Sudan...

, who also constitute the major ethnic group in northern Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

, and the Zarma-Songhai, who also are found in parts of Mali
Mali
Mali , officially the Republic of Mali , is a landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over 1,240,000 km² with...

. Both groups, along with the Gourmantche
Gurma
Gourma redirects here. For the Burkina Faso province, see Gourma Province.Gurma is an ethnic group living mainly in Burkina Faso, around Fada N'Gourma, and also in northern areas of Togo and Benin, as well as southwestern Niger...

, are sedentary farmers who live in the arable, southern tier of the country.

The remainder of Nigeriens are nomadic or semi-nomadic livestock-raising peoples—Fulani
Fula people
Fula people or Fulani or Fulbe are an ethnic group spread over many countries, predominantly in West Africa, but found also in Central Africa and Sudanese North Africa...

, Tuareg, Kanuri, Arabs
Diffa Arabs
Diffa Arabs is the Nigerien name given to Arab nomadic tribespeople living in eastern Niger, mostly in the Diffa Region...

, and Toubou
Toubou
The Tubu are an ethnic group that live mainly in northern Chad, but also in Libya, Niger and Sudan....

—who make up about 20% of Niger's population. With rapidly growing populations and the consequent competition for meager natural resources, lifestyles of agriculturalists and livestock herders have come increasingly into conflict in Niger in recent years.

A Nigerien study has found that more than 800,000 people are enslaved
Slavery in modern Africa
Slavery in Africa continues today. Slavery existed in Africa before the arrival of the Atlantic slave trade, as did an internal African slave trade and an Arab slave trade...

, almost 8% of the population.

Health


Niger's high infant mortality rate is comparable to levels recorded in neighboring countries. However, the child mortality rate (deaths among children between the ages of 1 and 4) is exceptionally high (248 per 1,000) due to generally poor health conditions and inadequate nutrition for most of the country's children. According to the organization Save the Children
Save the Children
Save the Children is an internationally active non-governmental organization that enforces children's rights, provides relief and helps support children in developing countries...

, Niger has the world's highest infant mortality rate.

Nonetheless, Niger has the highest fertility rate in the world (7.2 births per woman); this means that nearly half (49%) of the Nigerien population is under age 15. There were 3 physicians and 22 nurses per 100,000 persons in 2004.

Education


Primary education in Niger is compulsory for six years. The primary school enrollment and attendance rates are low, particularly for girls. In 1997, the gross primary enrollment rate was 29.3 percent, and in 1996, the net primary enrollment rate was 24.5 percent. About 60 percent of children who finish primary schools are boys, as the majority of girls rarely attend school for more than a few years. Children are often forced to work rather than attend school, particularly during planting or harvest
Harvest
Harvest is the process of gathering mature crops from the fields. Reaping is the cutting of grain or pulse for harvest, typically using a scythe, sickle, or reaper...

 periods. In addition, nomad
Nomad
Nomadic people , commonly known as itinerants in modern-day contexts, are communities of people who move from one place to another, rather than settling permanently in one location. There are an estimated 30-40 million nomads in the world. Many cultures have traditionally been nomadic, but...

ic children in the north of the country often do not have access to schools.

Culture and religion




Nigerien culture is marked by variation, evidence of the cultural crossroads which French colonialism
French colonial empires
The French colonial empire was the set of territories outside Europe that were under French rule primarily from the 17th century to the late 1960s. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the colonial empire of France was the second-largest in the world behind the British Empire. The French colonial empire...

 formed into a unified state from the beginning of the 20th century. What is now Niger was created from four distinct cultural areas in the pre-colonial era: the Zarma dominated Niger River
Niger River
The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa, extending about . Its drainage basin is in area. Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea...

 valley in the southwest; the northern periphery of Hausaland, made mostly of those states which had resisted the Sokoto Caliphate, and ranged along the long southern border with Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

; the Lake Chad
Lake Chad
Lake Chad is a historically large, shallow, endorheic lake in Africa, whose size has varied over the centuries. According to the Global Resource Information Database of the United Nations Environment Programme, it shrank as much as 95% from about 1963 to 1998; yet it also states that "the 2007 ...

 basin and Kaouar
Kaouar
The Kaouar, or Kaouar Cliffs is a north-south escarpment running some 150 km in north east Niger. Surrounded by the Ténéré desert and the dunes of the Erg of Bilma, easterly winds striking the 100 meter high escarpment of Kaouar provide easy access to groundwater for ten oases on the leeward side...

 in the far east, populated by Kanuri farmers and Toubou
Toubou
The Tubu are an ethnic group that live mainly in northern Chad, but also in Libya, Niger and Sudan....

 pastoralists who had once been part of the Kanem-Bornu Empire
Bornu Empire
The Bornu Empire was an African state of Nigeria from 1396 to 1893. It was a continuation of the great Kanem Empire founded centuries earlier by the Sayfawa Dynasty...

; and the Tuareg nomads of the Aïr Mountains
Aïr Mountains
The Aïr Mountains is a triangular massif, located in northern Niger, within the Sahara desert...

 and Sahara
Sahara
The Sahara is the world's second largest desert, after Antarctica. At over , it covers most of Northern Africa, making it almost as large as Europe or the United States. The Sahara stretches from the Red Sea, including parts of the Mediterranean coasts, to the outskirts of the Atlantic Ocean...

n desert in the vast north.

Each of these communities, along with smaller ethnic groups like the pastoral Wodaabe
Wodaabe
The Wodaabe or Bororo are a small subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group. They are traditionally nomadic cattle-herders and traders in the Sahel, with migrations stretching from southern Niger, through northern Nigeria, northeastern Cameroon, and the western region of the Central African Republic....

 Fula
Fula people
Fula people or Fulani or Fulbe are an ethnic group spread over many countries, predominantly in West Africa, but found also in Central Africa and Sudanese North Africa...

, brought their own cultural traditions to the new state of Niger. While successive post-independence governments have tried to forge a shared national culture, this has been slow forming, in part because the major Nigerien communities have their own cultural histories, and in part because Nigerien ethnic groups such as the Hausa
Hausa people
The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are a Sahelian people chiefly located in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, but having significant numbers living in regions of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Sudan...

, Tuareg and Kanuri are but part of larger ethnic communities which cross borders introduced under colonialism.

Until the 1990s, government and politics was inordinately dominated by Niamey
Niamey
-Population:While Niamey's population has grown steadily since independence, the droughts of the early 1970s and 1980s, along with the economic crisis of the early 1980s, have propelled an exodus of rural inhabitants to Niger's largest city...

 and the Zarma people of the surrounding region. At the same time the plurality of the population, in the Hausa borderlands between Birni-N'Konni
Birni-N'Konni
Birni-N'Konni is a town in Niger, lying on the border of Nigeria and the Kori River. It is an important market town and transport hub and the 2001 census had a population of 44,663. The town is the historic center of the small pre-colonial Hausa state of Konni...

 and Maine-Soroa
Maine-Soroa
Maine-Soroa is a town in southeastern Niger, the capital of the Maine-soroa Department, and is in turn part of Diffa Region. Population 10,176 .-Economy:...

, have often looked culturally more to Hausaland in Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

 than Niamey
Niamey
-Population:While Niamey's population has grown steadily since independence, the droughts of the early 1970s and 1980s, along with the economic crisis of the early 1980s, have propelled an exodus of rural inhabitants to Niger's largest city...

. Between 1996 and 2003, primary school attendance was around 30%, including 36% of males and only 25% of females. Additional education occurs through madrassas.

Religion





Islam, spread from North Africa beginning in the 10th century, has greatly shaped the mores of the people of Niger. Between 80 to more than 98% of the population is Muslim, with small Animist and Christian communities, the latter a consequence of missionaries established during the French colonial years, as well as urban expatriate communities from Europe and West Africa.

Islam



Approximately 95% of Muslims in Niger are Sunni and Sufi; 5% are Shi'a. Islam was spread into what is now Niger beginning in the 15th century, by both the expansion of the Songhai Empire
Songhai Empire
The Songhai Empire, also known as the Songhay Empire, was a state located in western Africa. From the early 15th to the late 16th century, Songhai was one of the largest Islamic empires in history. This empire bore the same name as its leading ethnic group, the Songhai. Its capital was the city...

 in the west, and the influence of the Trans-Saharan trade
Trans-Saharan trade
Trans-Saharan trade requires travel across the Sahara to reach sub-Saharan Africa. While existing from prehistoric times, the peak of trade extended from the 8th century until the late 16th century.- Increasing desertification and economic incentive :...

 traveling from the Maghreb
Maghreb
The Maghreb is the region of Northwest Africa, west of Egypt. It includes five countries: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Mauritania and the disputed territory of Western Sahara...

 and Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. Tuareg expansion from the north, culminating in their seizure of the far eastern oases from the Kanem-Bornu Empire
Bornu Empire
The Bornu Empire was an African state of Nigeria from 1396 to 1893. It was a continuation of the great Kanem Empire founded centuries earlier by the Sayfawa Dynasty...

 in the 17th centuries, spread distinctively Berber
Berber mythology
The traditional Berber mythology is the ancient and native set of beliefs and deities developed by the Berber people in their historical land of North Africa...

 practices.

Both Zarma and Hausa
Hausa people
The Hausa are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. They are a Sahelian people chiefly located in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger, but having significant numbers living in regions of Cameroon, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, Chad and Sudan...

 areas were greatly influenced by the 18th and 19th century Fula led
Fula jihads
The Fula or Fulani jihads, were a series of independent but loosely connected events across West Africa between the late 17th century and European colonization, in which Muslim Fulas took control of various parts of the region...

 Sufi brotherhoods, most notably the Sokoto Caliphate (in today's Nigeria). Modern Muslim practice in Niger is often tied to the Tijaniya Sufi
Sufism
Sufism or ' is defined by its adherents as the inner, mystical dimension of Islam. A practitioner of this tradition is generally known as a '...

 brotherhoods
Tariqah
A tariqa is an Islamic religious order. In Sufism one starts with Islamic law, the exoteric or mundane practice of Islam and then is initiated onto the mystical path of a tariqa. Through spiritual practices and guidance of a tariqa the aspirant seeks ḥaqīqah - ultimate truth.-Meaning:A tariqa is a...

, although there are small minority groups tied to Hammallism and Nyassist Sufi orders in the west, and the Sanusiya in the far northeast

A small center Wahhabite followers have appeared in the last thirty years in the capital and in Maradi. These small groups, linked to similar groups in Jos
Jos
Jos is a city in the Middle Belt of Nigeria.The city has a population of about 1.5 million residents. Popularly called "J-town" or "Jesus Our Saviour" by the residents, it is the administrative capital of Plateau State....

, Nigeria, came to public prominence in the 1990s during a series of religious riots

Despite this, Niger maintains a tradition as a secular state
Secular state
A secular state is a concept of secularism, whereby a state or country purports to be officially neutral in matters of religion, supporting neither religion nor irreligion. A secular state also claims to treat all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and claims to avoid preferential...

, protected by law. Interfaith relations are deemed very good, and the forms of Islam traditionally practiced in most of the country is marked by tolerance of other faiths and lack of restrictions on personal freedom. Divorce and polygyny
Polygyny
Polygyny is a form of marriage in which a man has two or more wives at the same time. In countries where the practice is illegal, the man is referred to as a bigamist or a polygamist...

 are unremarkable, women are not secluded, and headcoverings are not mandatory—they are often a rarity in urban areas. Alcohol, such as the locally produced Bière Niger, is sold openly in most of the country.

Animism


A small percentage of the population practices traditional indigenous religious beliefs
African Traditional Religion
The traditional religions indigenous to Africa have, for most of their existence, been orally rather than scripturally transmitted. They are generally associated with animism. Most have ethno-based creations stories...

. The numbers of Animist practitioners is a point of contention. As recently as the late 19th century much of the south centre of the nation was unreached by Islam, and the conversion of some rural areas has been only partial. There are still areas where animist based festivals and traditions (such as the Bori religion
Bori (religion)
Bori is a traditional animistic religion of the Hausa people of West Africa which involves spiritual possession.-Terminology:Bòòríí is a Hausa noun, meaning the spiritual force which resides in physical things, and is related to the word for local distilled alcohol as well the practice of medicine...

) are practiced by syncretic Muslim communities (in some Hausa areas as well as among some Toubou
Toubou
The Tubu are an ethnic group that live mainly in northern Chad, but also in Libya, Niger and Sudan....

 and Wodaabe
Wodaabe
The Wodaabe or Bororo are a small subgroup of the Fulani ethnic group. They are traditionally nomadic cattle-herders and traders in the Sahel, with migrations stretching from southern Niger, through northern Nigeria, northeastern Cameroon, and the western region of the Central African Republic....

 pastoralists), as opposed to several small communities who maintain their pre-Islamic religion.

These include the Hausa-speaking Maouri (or Azna, the Hausa word for "pagan") community in Dogondoutci in the south-southwest and the Kanuri speaking Manga near Zinder, both of whom practice variations of the pre-Islamic Hausa Maguzawa
Maguzawa
Maguzawa are Hausa people who still adhere to some of the tenets of the pre-Islamic traditional religions of Kano and Katsina, cities in northern Nigeria. Most of the citizens are found in the rural areas close to Kano and Katsina. They are known to have facial scarification similar to early rulers...

 religion. There are also some tiny Boudouma and Songhay animist communities in the southwest.

Media



Niger began developing diverse media in the late 1990s. Prior to the Third Republic, Nigeriens only had access to tightly controlled state media. Now Niamey boasts scores of newspapers and magazines, some, like Le Sahel, are government operated, while many are critical of the government. Radio is the most important medium, as television sets are beyond the buying power of many of the rural poor, and illiteracy prevents print media from becoming a mass medium.

In addition to the national and regional radio services of the state broadcaster ORTN
Office of Radio and Television of Niger
The Office of Radio and Television of Niger , or ORTN, is the state broadcaster of the West African nation of Niger. ORTN operates the Télé Sahel terrestrial television station , Radio Voix du Sahel radio network, and the TAL TV satellite station...

, there are four privately owned radio networks which total more than 100 stations. Three of them—the Anfani Group
Anfani FM
Anfani FM is a privately operated radio network in the West African nation of Niger. Based in the capitol of Niamey, Anfani also has stations in the regional centers of Maradi, Zinder, Birni Nkonni, and Diffa.-History and content:...

, Sarounia and Tenere—are urban based commercial format FM
FM broadcasting
FM broadcasting is a broadcasting technology pioneered by Edwin Howard Armstrong which uses frequency modulation to provide high-fidelity sound over broadcast radio. The term "FM band" describes the "frequency band in which FM is used for broadcasting"...

 networks in the major towns. There is also a network of over 80 community radio stations spread across all seven regions of the country, governed by the Comité de Pilotage de Radios de Proximité (CPRP), a civil society organisation. The independent sector radio networks are collectively estimated by CPRP officials to cover some 7.6 million people, or about 73% of the population (2005).

Aside from Nigerien radio stations, the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

's Hausa service is listened to on FM repeaters across wide parts of the country, particularly in the south, close to the border with Nigeria. Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale was created in 1975 as part of Radio France by the Government of France, and replaced the Poste Colonial , Paris Mondial , Radio Paris , RTF Radio Paris and ORTF Radio Paris...

 also rebroadcasts in French through some of the commercial stations, via satellite. Tenere FM also runs a national independent television station of the same name.

Despite relative freedom at the national level, Nigerien journalists say they are often pressured by local authorities. The state ORTN network depends financially on the government, partly through an addition to electricity bills and partly through direct subsidy.The sector is governed by the Conseil Supérieur de Communications
High Council for Communication (Niger)
The High Council for Communication of the West African state of Niger is a government body which regulates press and media.-1960-1993:...

, established as an independent body in the early 1990s, since 2007 headed by Daouda Diallo. International human rights groups have criticised government since at least 1996 as using regulation and police to punish criticism of the state.

See also


  • Cinema of Niger
    Cinema of Niger
    The cinema in Niger grew from ethnographic documentaries in the colonial period to become one of the most active national film cultures in Francophone Africa. Filmmakers such as Oumarou Ganda, Moustapha Alassane, Mahamane Bakabé, Inoussa Ousseini and Moustapha Diop have had their work featured...

  • Green Sahara
  • Languages of Niger
    Languages of Niger
    Depending on how they are counted, Niger has between 8 and 20 indigenous languages. The discrepancy comes from the fact that several are closely related, and can be grouped together or considered apart....

  • LGBT rights in Niger (Gay rights)
  • List of African writers by country#Niger
  • Music of Niger
    Music of Niger
    The music of Niger has developed from the musical traditions of a mix of ethnic groups.-Traditional musical styles:Hausa, Beriberi, Songhai, Djerma, Dendi, Fula, Wodaabe, and Tuareg traditions, most of which existed quite independently in the colonial period, have begun to form a mixture of styles...

  • Sahel drought
    Sahel drought
    [[File:Greening Sahel 1982-1999.jpg|thumb|300px|Recent "Greening" of the Sahel: The results of trend analyses of time series over the Sahel region of seasonally integrated NDVI using NOAA AVHRR NDVI-data from 1982 to 1999...

  • Telecommunications in Niger


Sources


External links