Niger or the Niger, officially the Republic of the Niger, is a landlocked country in West Africa named after the Niger River. Niger is bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria to the south, Benin to the southwest, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, and Algeria to the northwest. The sub-Saharan landscape of Niger is characterized by deserts, sand dunes, uplands, and hills, as both the Sahel and Saraha Deserts dominate the region. In the lower part of the country, 2% of the land is covered with forests and woodlands. The third longest river in Africa, the Niger River, runs in a crescent from the Guinea Highlands through Mali and makes up part of the Benin-Niger border. It is Niger’s lowest point at 656 ft (200 m). In northern Niger, the Air Mountains punctuate the Sahara desert with a series of nine massifs. The highest point of the country, Mont Idoukal-n-Taghes at 6,633 ft (2,022 m), is located in the south-central region of the Air Mountains.
Key cities in Niger include: Niamey, Zinder, Maradi, Tahoua, Agadez, Arlit, Dosso, Dogondoutchi, Birni-N’Konni, Tessaoua.
Historical, Cultural facts & Religion
Early in history Niger was an important crossroads for trading and was part of many African empires such as the Songhai Empire, Mali, and Bornu. In 1922 Niger became a French colony. Niger became an independent country in 1960. Since then it has been marred with civil war, poverty, military coups, and famine.
Religion. Islam is the dominant religion in Niger and is practiced by more than 90% of the population. Approximately 95% of Muslims are Sunni; 5% are Shi’a. There are small Christian, Bahá’í, and Animist communities, the first largely a remnant of French colonial influence.
Brief Country History
One of the central themes of the history of Niger is the interaction between the Tuareg (and also Tubu) nomads of the vast Saharan north and the sedentary agriculturalists of the south—that is, the interaction between opposed yet complementary ways of life and civilizations. Among the agriculturalists, the main ethnic groups are the Songhai-Zarma in the west, the Hausa in the center, and the Kanuri in the east. The Hausa have always been the most numerous. They constitute nearly half of the total population of Niger.
In the 14th century (possibly also earlier and later) the Tuareg-controlled kingdom of Takedda, west of the Aïr Massif, played a prominent role in long-distance trade, notably owing to the importance of its copper mines. Copper was then used as a currency throughout western Africa. Archaeological evidence attests to the existence of communities of agriculturalists, probably Songhai-speaking, in this region, which is now desert, at the time of the kingdom of Takedda. Takedda was succeeded at an unknown date by the sultanate of Agadez.
For many centuries the southeastern third of present-day Niger constituted one of the most important provinces of the Kanuri empire of Bornu. The might of Bornu was based on the control of a number of salt-producing sites and of long-distance trade, notably along the string of oases between Lake Chad and the Fezzan via Kawar.
The great drought of about 1735–56—the prelude to the present dry cycle, which set in about 1880—had an adverse effect upon the natural environment. This may explain why both the communities of agriculturalists west of Aïr and the oases between Lake Chad and Kawar disappeared. It may perhaps also explain in part why the Tuareg were able to extend their control over a fair portion of the sedentary south.
At the time of the colonial conquest, the disparate regions the French molded into an entity known as Niger may be best described as an assemblage of peripheral borderlands. As borderlands, however, these regions had played a significant role as zones of refuge—the west after 1591 and the Moroccan conquest of the Songhai empire and the Hausa region much later, after the 1804 Fulani jihad in central Hausaland (i.e., present-day northern Nigeria). In both cases the refugees were people who had lost in the military conflicts, as well as the religious struggles, of their respective homelands. Thus, both regions became bastions of “traditionalism” in the face of partly alien conquerors attempting to impose Islam.
Language (s) Written & Spoken
There are a large number of languages spoken in Niger. The official language is French but the most widely spoken language is Hausa.
Important Types of Commerce in Niger
Niger has extensive resources of gold, coal, oil and other minerals and its ability to exploit them successfully is important for the country’s future growth. Other major industries in Niger are cement, brick, soap, textiles, food processing, chemicals and slaughterhouses
Language Services US and others will provide working with Niger
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