Nigerien /nuy jear'ee en"/, adj., n.
/nuy"jeuhr/; Fr. /nee zherdd"/, n.
1. a republic in NW Africa: formerly part of French West Africa. 9,388,359; 458,976 sq. mi. (1,188,748 sq. km). Cap.: Niamey.
2. a river in W Africa, rising in S Guinea, flowing NE through Mali, and then SE through Nigeria into the Gulf of Guinea. 2600 mi. (4185 km) long. See map on next page.

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Introduction Niger
Background: Not until 1993, 35 years after independence from France, did Niger hold its first free and open elections. A 1995 peace accord ended a five-year Tuareg insurgency in the north. Coups in 1996 and 1999 were followed by the creation of a National Reconciliation Council that effected a transition to civilian rule by December 1999. Geography Niger -
Location: Western Africa, southeast of Algeria
Geographic coordinates: 16 00 N, 8 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 1.267 million sq km water: 300 sq km land: 1,266,700 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly less than twice the size of Texas
Land boundaries: total: 5,697 km border countries: Algeria 956 km, Benin 266 km, Burkina Faso 628 km, Chad 1,175 km, Libya 354 km, Mali 821 km, Nigeria 1,497 km
Coastline: 0 km (landlocked)
Maritime claims: none (landlocked)
Climate: desert; mostly hot, dry, dusty; tropical in extreme south
Terrain: predominately desert plains and sand dunes; flat to rolling plains in south; hills in north
Elevation extremes: lowest point: Niger River 200 m highest point: Mont Bagzane 2,022 m
Natural resources: uranium, coal, iron ore, tin, phosphates, gold, petroleum
Land use: arable land: 3.94% permanent crops: 0% other: 96.05% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land: 660 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: recurring droughts Environment - current issues: overgrazing; soil erosion; deforestation; desertification; wildlife populations (such as elephant, hippopotamus, giraffe, and lion) threatened because of poaching and habitat destruction Environment - international party to: Biodiversity, Climate
agreements: Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Wetlands signed, but not ratified: Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Law of the Sea
Geography - note: landlocked; one of the hottest countries in the world: northern four-fifths is desert, southern one- fifth is savanna, suitable for livestock and limited agriculture People Niger
Population: 10,639,744 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 47.9% (male 2,594,932; female 2,503,867) 15-64 years: 49.8% (male 2,594,307; female 2,706,164) 65 years and over: 2.3% (male 125,898; female 114,576) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate: 2.7% (2002 est.)
Birth rate: 49.95 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate: 22.25 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.71 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female 15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female 65 years and over: 1.1 male(s)/ female total population: 1 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate: 122.23 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.) Life expectancy at birth: total population: 41.91 years female: 41.77 years (2002 est.) male: 42.04 years
Total fertility rate: 7 children born/woman (2002 est.) HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: 4% (2001 est.) HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/ NA
HIV/AIDS - deaths: 17,700 (2002est.)
Nationality: noun: Nigerien(s) adjective: Nigerien
Ethnic groups: Hausa 56%, Djerma 22%, Fula 8.5%, Tuareg 8%, Beri Beri (Kanouri) 4.3%, Arab, Toubou, and Gourmantche 1.2%, about 1,200 French expatriates
Religions: Muslim 80%, remainder indigenous beliefs and Christian
Languages: French (official), Hausa, Djerma
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write total population: 15.3% male: 21.2% female: 9.4% (2002) Government Niger
Country name: conventional long form: Republic of Niger conventional short form: Niger local short form: Niger local long form: Republique du Niger
Government type: republic
Capital: Niamey Administrative divisions: 7 departments (departements, singular - departement) and 1 capital district* (capitale district); Agadez, Diffa, Dosso, Maradi, Niamey*, Tahoua, Tillaberi, Zinder
Independence: 3 August 1958 (from France)
National holiday: Republic Day, 18 December (1958)
Constitution: the constitution of January 1993 was revised by national referendum on 12 May 1996 and again by referendum on 18 July 1999
Legal system: based on French civil law system and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal
Executive branch: chief of state: President Mamadou TANDJA (since 22 December 1999); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government head of government: President Mamadou TANDJA (since 22 December 1999); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government; Prime Minister Hama AMADOU (since 31 December 1999) was appointed by the president and shares some executive responsibilities with the president cabinet: 23-member Cabinet appointed by the president elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; last held 24 November 1999 (next to be held NA 2004); prime minister appointed by the president election results: Mamadou TANDJA elected president; percent of vote - Mamadou TANDJA 59.9%, Mahamadou ISSOUFOU 40.1%
Legislative branch: unicameral National Assembly (83 seats, members elected by popular vote for five-year terms) elections: last held 24 November 1999 (next to be held NA 2004) election results: percent of vote by party - NA%; seats by party - MNSD- Nassara 38, CDS-Rahama 17, PNDS- Tarayya 16, RDP-Jama'a 8, ANDPS- Zaman Lahiya 4
Judicial branch: State Court or Cour d'Etat; Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel Political parties and leaders: Democratic Rally of the People- Jama'a or RDP-Jama'a [Hamid ALGABID]; Democratic and Social Convention-Rahama or CDS-Rahama [Mahamane OUSMANE]; National Movement for a Developing Society- Nassara or MNSD-Nassara [Mamadou TANDJA, chairman]; Nigerien Alliance for Democracy and Social Progress- Zaman Lahiya or ANDPS-Zaman Lahiya [Moumouni Adamou DJERMAKOYE]; Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism-Tarayya or PNDS-Tarayya [Mahamadou ISSOUFOU]; Union of Democratic Patriots and Progressives-Chamoua or UPDP-Chamoua [Professor Andre' SALIFOU, chairman] Political pressure groups and NA
leaders: International organization ACCT, ACP, AfDB, CCC, ECA, ECOWAS,
participation: Entente, FAO, FZ, G-77, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICFTU, ICRM, IDA, IDB, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, ILO, IMF, Interpol, IOC, ITU, MIPONUH, MONUC, NAM, OAU, OIC, OPCW, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNMIK, UPU, WADB (regional), WAEMU, WCL, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO, WTrO Diplomatic representation in the US: chief of mission: Ambassador Joseph DIATTA FAX: [1] (202)483-3169 telephone: [1] (202) 483-4224 through 4227 chancery: 2204 R Street NW, Washington, DC 20008 Diplomatic representation from the chief of mission: Ambassador Barbro
US: OWENS-KIRKPATRICK embassy: Rue Des Ambassades, Niamey mailing address: B. P. 11201, Niamey telephone: [227] 72 26 61 through 72 26 64 FAX: [227] 73 31 67
Flag description: three equal horizontal bands of orange (top), white, and green with a small orange disk (representing the sun) centered in the white band; similar to the flag of India, which has a blue spoked wheel centered in the white band Economy Niger -
Economy - overview: Niger is a poor, landlocked Sub- Saharan nation, whose economy centers on subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, reexport trade, and increasingly less on uranium, because of declining world demand. The 50% devaluation of the West African franc in January 1994 boosted exports of livestock, cowpeas, onions, and the products of Niger's small cotton industry. The government relies on bilateral and multilateral aid - which was suspended following the April 1999 coup d'etat - for operating expenses and public investment. In 2000-01, the World Bank approved a structural adjustment loan of $105 million to help support fiscal reforms. However, reforms could prove difficult given the government's bleak financial situation. The IMF approved a $73 million poverty reduction and growth facility for Niger in 2000 and announced $115 million in debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.
GDP: purchasing power parity - $8.4 billion (2001 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 3.1% (2001 est.)
GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $820 (2001 est.) GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 41% industry: 17% services: 42% (2000) Population below poverty line: 63% (1993 est.) Household income or consumption by lowest 10%: 0.8%
percentage share: highest 10%: 35.4% (1995) Distribution of family income - Gini 50.5 (1995)
index: Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.2% (2001 est.)
Labor force: 70,000 receive regular wages or salaries Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 90%, industry and commerce 6%, government 4%
Unemployment rate: NA%
Budget: revenues: $320 million, including $134 million from foreign sources expenditures: $320 million, including capital expenditures of $178 million (2002 est.)
Industries: uranium mining, cement, brick, textiles, food processing, chemicals, slaughterhouses Industrial production growth rate: NA% Electricity - production: 220 million kWh (2000) Electricity - production by source: fossil fuel: 100% hydro: 0% other: 0% (2000) nuclear: 0% Electricity - consumption: 404.6 million kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports: 200 million kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products: cowpeas, cotton, peanuts, millet, sorghum, cassava (tapioca), rice; cattle, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, horses, poultry
Exports: $246 million (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Exports - commodities: uranium ore 65%, livestock products, cowpeas, onions (1998 est.)
Exports - partners: France 43.4%, Nigeria 35.0%, Spain 4.5%, US 3.9% (2000)
Imports: $331 million (f.o.b., 2001 est.)
Imports - commodities: consumer goods, primary materials, machinery, vehicles and parts, petroleum, cereals
Imports - partners: France 16.8%, Cote d'Ivoire 13.4%, US 9.6%, Nigeria 7.6% (2000)
Debt - external: $1.6 billion (1999 est.) Economic aid - recipient: $341 million (1997) note: the IMF approved a $73 million poverty reduction and growth facility for Niger in 2000 and announced $115 million in debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States
Currency code: XOF
Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 742.79 (January 2002), 733.04 (2001), 711.98 (2000), 615.70 (1999), 589.95 (1998), 583.67 (1997); note - from 1 January 1999, the XOF is pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 XOF per euro
Fiscal year: calendar year Communications Niger Telephones - main lines in use: 20,000 (2001) Telephones - mobile cellular: 6,700 (2002)
Telephone system: general assessment: small system of wire, radio telephone communications, and microwave radio relay links concentrated in the southwestern area of Niger domestic: wire, radiotelephone communications, and microwave radio relay; domestic satellite system with 3 earth stations and 1 planned international: satellite earth stations - 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 6, shortwave 4 (2001)
Radios: 680,000 (1997) Television broadcast stations: 3 (plus seven low-power repeaters) (2002)
Televisions: 125,000 (1997)
Internet country code: .ne Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)
Internet users: 3,000 (2000) Transportation Niger
Railways: 0 km (2002)
Highways: total: 10,100 km paved: 798 km unpaved: 9,302 km (1996)
Waterways: 300 km note: the Niger River is navigable from Niamey to Gaya on the Benin frontier from mid-December through March
Ports and harbors: none
Airports: 26 (2001) Airports - with paved runways: total: 9 2,438 to 3,047 m: 2 1,524 to 2,437 m: 6 under 914 m: 1 (2001) Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 17 1,524 to 2,437 m: 1 914 to 1,523 m: 14 under 914 m: 2 (2001) Military Niger
Military branches: Army, Air Force, Gendarmerie, National Intervention and Security Force Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age (2002 est.) Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49: 2,270,793 (2002 est.) Military manpower - fit for military males age 15-49: 1,227,994 (2002
service: est.) Military manpower - reaching military males: 108,993 (2002 est.)
age annually: Military expenditures - dollar $20.9 million (FY01)
figure: Military expenditures - percent of 1.3% (FY01)
GDP: Transnational Issues Niger Disputes - international: Niger and Benin have refered to the ICJ the dispute over l'Ete and 14 smaller islands in the Niger River, which has never been delimited; the Benin-Niger-Nigeria tripoint remains undemarcated; Lake Chad Basin Commission urges signatories Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria to ratify delimitation treaty over lake region, the site of continuing armed clashes; Libya claims about 19,400 sq km in northern Niger in a currently dormant dispute

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officially Republic of Niger

Country, western Africa, on the southern edge of the Sahara.

Area: 459,073 sq mi (1,188,999 sq km). Population (2002 est.): 10,640,000. Capital: Niamey. More than half the people are Hausa; there are also Songhai-Zerma and Kanuri. Languages: French (official), Hausa, Arabic. Religions: Islam, Christianity, traditional religions. Currency: CFA franc. A landlocked country, Niger is characterized by savanna in the south and desert in the centre and north; most of the population lives in the south. The Niger River dominates in the southwest and the Aïr Massif (a mountainous region) in the north-central part of the country. Niger has a developing economy based largely on agriculture and mining. It is a republic with one legislative body; its head of state and government is the president, assisted by the prime minister. There is evidence of Neolithic culture in the region, and there were several precolonial kingdoms. First explored by Europeans in the late 18th century, it became part of French West Africa in 1904. It became an overseas territory of France in 1946 and gained independence in 1960. The first multiparty elections were held in 1993. The leader of a military coup of 1996 promulgated a new constitution that year. At the beginning of the 21st century, the country was plagued by economic problems.
(as used in expressions)
Republic of Niger
Niger Congo languages
Titus Petronius Niger

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▪ 2009

1,189,546 sq km (459,286 sq mi)
(2008 est.): 14,731,000
Head of state and government:
President Mamadou Tandja, assisted by Prime Minister Seyni Oumarou

      The Tuareg rebellion in northern Niger escalated during 2008. On January 8 a land mine exploded in a residential district of Niamey, where many army officers lived, and on January 21 Movement of Nigerians for Justice (MNJ) members killed 7 policemen in Tanout, 900 km (550 mi) northeast of Niamey, and kidnapped 11 others, including the mayor. On June 26 the MNJ released 4 French miners (who had been abducted three days earlier) from the uranium diggings near Arlit. One of the MNJ's main objectives was to secure for the Tuareg people a greater share of the profits from the mineral wealth in northern Niger. The government said that 17 rebels had been killed on June 27 in fighting near Tezirzait, but the MNJ claimed that 26 soldiers had also died. On July 18 the government halted all operations of the French branch of the aid organization Doctors Without Borders, insisting that it had links with the rebels. In October that aid group, which had been treating more than 3,000 children for malnutrition, appealed to the government to lift the ban. The MNJ announced on August 19 that it would welcome talks with the government but denied reports that it was prepared to surrender its firearms. During a government showcase disarmament ceremony on August 24, dozens of land mines accidentally exploded while a number of former Tuareg rebels were handing in their weapons; at least one man was killed, and 40 were injured.

      The government released two French television reporters on January 18. They had been arrested a month earlier for having interviewed Tuareg leaders. Two local journalists, arrested on the same charge of having endangered state security, remained in prison. On June 26 former prime minister Hama Amadou was arrested and charged with having embezzled nearly $240,000 in public funds.

      The government announced in June that the China National Petroleum Corp. would invest $5 billion to develop Niger's oil resources following completion of a new refinery. Production was scheduled to begin in 2009. The news was met with furious opposition from unions and civil rights groups, which demanded to know how the deal was struck and how the money would be distributed.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2008

1,189,546 sq km (459,286 sq mi)
(2007 est.): 14,226,000
Head of state and government:
President Mamadou Tandja, assisted by Prime Ministers Hama Amadou and, from June 7, Seyni Oumarou

      The government's control over northern Niger appeared to be threatened as Tuaregs, belonging to the Movement of Nigerians for Justice (MNJ), in 2007 launched a series of deadly raids throughout the region. On February 8, rebels attacked an army base near Iferouane about 1,000 km (600 mi) north of Niamey, killing three soldiers and kidnapping two others. A uranium mine was hit in April, and on June 22 the MNJ struck a Saharan garrison post, killing 15 and taking 72 hostages. Although the MNJ released 30 injured soldiers to the International Red Cross a week later, it continued its campaign on August 10 by launching a series of attacks on power stations and a fuel depot near Agadez. The MNJ claimed to have killed 17 soldiers on August 22 when it attacked a convoy near Gougaram. International aid agencies in the north suspended most of their humanitarian efforts when rebels launched a wave of violent carjackings and planted antipersonnel land mines in the area. A state of emergency was declared on August 24, and dozens of civilian critics of the regime, including journalists reporting on the Tuareg unrest, were arrested.

      On July 27 Dominque Pin, the operations director of the French uranium mining company Areva, was expelled from Niger without explanation. Thousands of demonstrators marched through Niamey on September 6 demanding the total expulsion of Areva, claiming that it was supporting the MNJ. Niger remained the world's third leading producer of uranium.

      Prime Minister Hama Amadou and his government resigned on June 1 after losing a vote of confidence in the National Assembly, which arose out of allegations that it was heavily involved in the disappearance in 2005 of the $9 million donated by the European Union for education. On June 7 Pres. Mamadou Tandja named 57-year-old Seyni Oumarou as Amadou's replacement.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2007

1,189,546 sq km (459,286 sq mi)
(2006 est.): 12,841,000
Head of state and government:
President Mamadou Tandja, assisted by Prime Minister Hama Amadou

      After the severe locust invasion of 2004 and years of drought, in 2006 the state of Niger's food supply was of primary concern. Aid agencies estimated that nearly one million people were facing severe food shortages in this, the world's poorest economy. On April 3 the government, highly sensitive to this issue, banned a BBC-TV news team from continuing to cover the humanitarian crisis. The UN appealed on June 2 for an additional $3 million to feed 500,000 children suffering from malnutrition. The late arrival of the vital rainy season prompted Niger's Islamic Council to call for special prayers. On June 28 Pres. Mamadou Tandja and his entire cabinet joined with thousands of worshipers in the open air to pray for good rains. On July 10 the government released 20,000 metric tons of food to be sold in the markets at reduced prices and promised to distribute thousands of tons without charge in the hardest-hit areas. The rains finally began in late July, but the situation remained critical. Huge storms in August flooded large areas of the country, leaving at least 40,000 people without shelter.

      In early June students at Niger's only university, Abdou Moumouni Dioffo, demonstrated against the government's failure to pay six months of overdue grants. The government closed the university on June 2, accusing the students of vandalism. On June 27 President Tandja fired the ministers of education and health following a series of corruption allegations made against them by international donor groups. Organized by an umbrella group calling itself the Coalition Against the High Cost of Living, a series of general strikes virtually closed down the capital several times during the summer. Thousands of demonstrators demanded reductions in fuel prices and utility costs.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2006

1,189,546 sq km (459,286 sq mi)
(2005 est.): 12,163,000
Head of state and government:
President Mamadou Tandja, assisted by Prime Minister Hama Amadou

 The legacy of the 2004 plague of locusts and drought in Niger manifested itself in a massive food crisis in 2005. In May the UN estimated that more than a quarter of the population faced severe shortages and called for $16 million from the international community to tide the country over until the October harvest. Emergency stockpiles were virtually exhausted when, on May 29, Prime Minister Hama Amadou announced to the National Assembly that he was launching an “anguished appeal” for food aid. At least 2,000 demonstrators marched through Niamey on June 2 to protest the government's failure to have responded earlier to the situation and to demand free distribution of foodstuffs in the interior. Officials responded by claiming they had no resources to distribute free food in the famine-threatened areas. Prices of staples, such as rice and millet, had increased fourfold over 2004. Until the world media publicized the crisis, response to the UN's appeals had been minimal, and it was not until mid-August that the World Food Programme airlift of emergency food finally got under way as donors came to recognize the magnitude of the problem.

      Pres. Mamadou Tandja was reelected to his second five-year term on Dec. 4, 2004. Throughout 2005 he faced widespread demonstrations by large segments of the population. On March 15 thousands took to Niamey's streets to denounce price increases and the imposition of a 19% value-added tax on a broad variety of essential goods and services. Protests continued for three weeks, and a general strike was threatened. On April 20 the government agreed to drop the tax on flour and milk and to reduce it on water and electricity.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2005

1,189,546 sq km (459,286 sq mi)
(2004 est.): 11,679,000
Head of state and government:
President Tandja Mamadou, assisted by Prime Minister Hama Amadou

      Niger held municipal elections on July 24, 2004, with voters choosing 3,747 candidates to serve four-year terms on 265 rural and urban local councils. Pres. Mamadou Tandja, leader of the ruling National Movement for Society and Development, won a second term in office, garnering more than 65% of the vote in a runoff ballot held on December 4. He had failed to win a clear majority in the initial round of balloting held on November 13. Challenger Mahamadou Issoufou, leader of the main opposition Party for Democracy and Socialism, claimed 34.5% of the vote in the runoff. International observers, while pointing out some minor problems, deemed the elections overall to have been free and fair.

      During the summer, armed bandits conducted a series of raids on civilian buses and trucks in the northern Tuareg area. The most serious incident occurred on August 11, when raiders stopped a bus on the Trans-Sahara Highway, robbing its passengers and leaving three dead, one a two-year-old child. On August 12 journalist Moussa Kaka was arrested for having broadcast an interview with fugitive Tuareg leader Mohammed Boula, who proclaimed that his rebel group had carried out this latest attack. Kaka was released on August 16 but told not to leave the country.

      Niger remained one of the poorest countries in the world, but international donors expressed guarded approval of the government's attempts to lift the standard of living of its people and, in particular, subsistence farmers. Financed by the United Nations, the two-year-old poverty-reduction strategy had seen the construction of hundreds of new classrooms and clinics, as well as new dams and good wells. Primary-school enrollment was estimated to have risen by at least 10% in rural areas. On October 5 the first ingot was extracted from the new Samira gold mine in southwestern Niger, marking the launch of modern commercial extraction of the ore.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2004

1,267,000 sq km (489,000 sq mi)
(2003 est.): 11,380,000
Head of state and government:
President Tandja Mamadou, assisted by Prime Minister Hama Amadou

      The accusation by U.S. Pres. George W. Bush in January 2003 that Niger had exported uranium to Iraq for its nuclear program was met by Niger's government with angry denials and demands for an apology. The International Atomic Energy Agency declared in March that the U.S. report had been based on forged documents, and in July the White House admitted that the charge was baseless.

      Although opposition deputies had charged that the military tribunals called for in the country's new military justice code (passed by the National Assembly in December 2002) violated the constitution by creating a situation of double jeopardy, in late February 2003 the Constitutional Court upheld their legality. On March 13 police broke up a demonstration in Niamey by families and supporters of the more than 200 soldiers who had been imprisoned after a series of mutinies in July 2002. The protesters demanded the immediate release of the men, who had been held without official charges in military camps 1,500 km (930 mi) southeast of Niamey. Pres. Tandja Mamadou pledged on April 16 to root out corruption in the country's judicial system and promised severe sanctions against magistrates whose decisions were influenced by either political or financial reasons.

      In January 170 Niger soldiers arrived in Côte d'Ivoire to join the West African peacekeeping force that had been sent to help reestablish order there. More than 10,000 Nigerois had returned home from Côte d'Ivoire as a result of the violence directed against them and other expatriate residents during the Ivorian civil war.

      Abundant rainfall and a 15% increase in land under cultivation in the 2002–03 farming season resulted in a larger-than-estimated harvest of foodstuffs. Budgetary constraints imposed by international donors prompted two strikes by civil servants demanding higher wages and lower taxes. The Democratic Confederation of the Workers of Niger walked out for five days on May 1 and again on May 27.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2003

1,267,000 sq km (489,000 sq mi)
(2002 est.): 10,640,000
Head of state and government:
President Tandja Mamadou, assisted by Prime Minister Hama Amadou

      On July 31, 2002, soldiers demanding higher pay and better conditions of service mutinied in Diffa, N'Guigmi, and N'Gourti in southeastern Niger. Several army officers and government officials, including Diffa's prefect, were taken hostage. Another mutiny in the capital on August 5 was quashed by troops loyal to the government who, responding quickly, overran the last of the rebel garrisons on August 9. The president of the Nigérien League for the Rights of Man, Bagnou Bonkoukou, was arrested on August 15 for having publicly questioned the official toll of those killed and injured in the mutinies. He was sentenced to one year in prison. On August 28 opposition parties denounced the imposition of two presidential decrees that effectively put a communications blackout on all reports from the affected region in the southeast. The Constitutional Court, however, certified the legality of the decrees. The government announced on September 23 that, as peace had been restored, the tight security measures imposed by the decrees would be eased.

      After two weeks of strikes, on March 12 thousands of students called for the release of two leaders of the University of Niamey's Students Union, who had been arrested following violent protests in 2001. Citing a severe drop in revenue, Prime Minister Hama Amadou announced in early August that civil service salaries would be paid 10 days in arrears for the next four months. The decision triggered strikes by the two largest unions, which closed banks and the airport on August 28 and 29. New austerity measures were announced on September 23 to counter revenue shortfalls and to satisfy the requirements of international donors, whose aid provided 60% of the national budget.

      The severe drought continued, with 70% of villages reporting insufficient water supplies. The former sultan of Zinder, Aboubacar Sanda, deposed by the government in 2001 on fraud charges, was sentenced to two years in prison on September 11.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2002

1,267,000 sq km (489,000 sq mi)
(2001 est.): 10,355,000
Head of state and government:
President Tandja Mamadou, assisted by Prime Minister Hama Amadou

      Thousands of University of Niamey students, protesting against government plans to reduce their grants, clashed with security forces on Feb. 21, 2001. One policeman later died of head wounds received during the violence, and nearly 50 persons from both sides were injured. Sixteen students were arrested after the demonstration, and the university was closed. On March 24 the government easily defeated an opposition no-confidence vote over its handling of the unrest. The Niamey students rejected an agreement signed on March 28 between the government and their parent organization, the Union of Niger Students, that would have reopened the university and restored full financial support. They demanded the release of the arrested students as a precondition for negotiations. At a court appearance on April 3, however, only four were released; the remaining 12 were charged with murder. On April 28 the imprisoned students began a hunger strike, and in May 100 other students staged a sit-down strike outside the parliament building. The action was abandoned after 11 days, and students staged a peaceful demonstration through the streets of Niamey. The prisoners' hunger strike continued for several more days.

      Niger's food crisis remained at critical levels throughout the summer, though the year's increased rainfall held promise of an improved harvest. On July 25 the UN World Food Programme launched an appeal for donors to give Niger $5 million for emergency purchases of grain. The government announced on August 15 that, in order to try to halt ongoing desertification, it would more than double the number of tree seedlings to be planted during the year.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2001

1,267,000 sq km (489,000 sq mi)
(2000 est.): 10,076,000
Head of state and government:
President Tandja Mamadou, assisted by Prime Minister Hama Amadou

      Niger's financial crisis deepened during 2000, particularly as a result of the sharp declines in world prices for its primary export, uranium. The political turmoil that followed the two military coups in four years did little to facilitate economic recovery. On January 5 Pres. Tandja Mamadou installed a new 24-member government and called for an emergency plan to revitalize the country's economy. Priority was to be given first to the payment of long-standing salary arrears to civil servants, whose frequent strikes had virtually paralyzed the government, and second to the provision of substantial increases in funding for schools and universities. Internal debt repayments were suspended on January 21 and were to be dealt with separately under the new government's budget. On January 30 three civil service unions rejected plans to pay them only basic wages and to withhold supplementary benefits. When the government promised to pay at least one month's salary arrears, teachers returned to work on January 25 after a three-month strike. Truck drivers went on strike in August, demanding higher wages. The strike, which halted the movement of goods in the country for more than two weeks, was settled on September 1.

      Foreign aid, cut off since the April 1999 military coup, resumed as donors signaled their approval of the return to civil rule. On July 25 Niger announced that it had received a $10 million gift from Nigeria to help stabilize democracy. The International Monetary Fund agreed in late September to provide CFAF 55 billion (about $74 million) for a three-year poverty-reduction program.

      Although rainfall was below average during the year, the country managed to have a reasonable harvest. More than half of Niger was already virtual desert, and an additional 30% was at risk unless rapid reforestation took place.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 2000

1,267,000 sq km (489,000 sq mi)
(1999 est.): 9,962,000
Head of state and government:
President Gen. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara until April 9 and, from April 11, Chairman of the National Reconciliation Council Maj. Daouda Malam Wanké, both assisted by Prime Minister Ibrahim Assane Mayaki; President Tandja Mamadou from December 22 and, from December 31, Prime Minister Hama Amadou

      Niger's Pres. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, who came to power in the military coup of January 1996, was assassinated at a military airport in Niamey on April 9, 1999, apparently by members of the Presidential Guard. (See Obituaries (Mainassara, Ibrahim Bare ).) The army assumed control of the country, dissolved the National Assembly and the Supreme Court, and annulled the results of the February local elections but promised a return to civilian rule within the year. Maj. Daouda Malam Wanké, commander of the airport Presidential Guard, was named military ruler. All senior military and police officers were immediately retired. Opposition parties, widely believed to have won the majority of seats in the elections, expressed their support for the new government. Prime Minister Ibrahim Mayaki was reappointed and formed a government of national unity. Most donor countries, including France, condemned the coup, and aid disbursements were frozen. In response, the government made major budget cuts. The junta announced that multiparty presidential and parliamentary elections would be held in the autumn. In consultation with the political parties, the government drew up a new constitution that contained provisions for power sharing between the president and the prime minister. The constitution was approved in July and became law on August 9. Turnout in the vote was less than 35%, but 90% of those voting approved.

      Retired army colonel Tandja Mamadou of the National Movement for the Development Society (MNSD), formerly the country's single party, was elected the new civilian president, with almost 60% of the vote in the second-round run-off in November. The MNSD won 38 seats in the 83-seat National Assembly and formed a coalition with the centrist Democratic and Social Convention (17 seats). On December 31 Mamadou reappointed former prime minister Hama Amadou.

      Strikes disrupted the economy as teachers, civil servants, and telecommunications workers all walked out at various times throughout the year. In Maradi, 560 km (350 mi) east of Niamey, the continued nonpayment of allowances caused soldiers to mutiny on October 4. Niger's debt burden remained among the world's heaviest.

Nancy Ellen Lawler

▪ 1999

      Area: 1,267,000 sq km (489,000 sq mi)

      Population (1998 est.): 9,672,000

      Capital: Niamey

      Head of state and government: President Gen. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, assisted by Prime Minister Ibrahim Assane Mayaki

      The government's decision to concentrate on reducing its heavy external debt at the expense of public-sector salaries caused prolonged unrest during 1998. Teachers, unpaid for the previous seven months, walked out on January 19. On February 21 soldiers in Diffa mutinied, demanding four months of salary arrears. The mutiny quickly spread to Agadez and Zinder. On February 27 university students in Niamey demonstrated in support of the mutineers and also protested the nonpayment of their grants for 20 months, which prompted the government to close the university. Although soldiers returned to their barracks on March 1, after having been promised immediate payment of two months of salary, the political crisis deepened. The alliance of eight opposition parties, the Front for the Restoration and Defense of Democracy, organized protests throughout the country calling for the resignation of Pres. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara. New battles between security forces and students in Niamey erupted on April 18 as students demanded the reopening of the university and payment of their grants. Disturbances lasted for more than a week before calm returned to the capital. At the end of May, members of the Republican Guard, who were responsible for state security, revolted. They had not been paid for several months. The government attempted to defuse the unrest throughout the country by various promises to meet wage demands, but even the amount owed to its 40,000 civil servants seemed unlikely to be paid without a fresh infusion of emergency aid.

      On July 31 Niger's opposition parties reached an agreement with the government over legal and organizational reforms of the electoral system and consequently agreed to participate in the local elections scheduled for November but postponed until February 1999. A peace accord between the government and the Toubou rebels of the Democratic Renewal Front, the only Tuareg group not to have signed the 1997 general peace agreement, was reached in August.

      Heavy rains fell in Niger in August and September, damaging roads and bridges and leaving 30,000 homeless in this usually arid country.


▪ 1998

      Area: 1,267,000 sq km (489,000 sq mi)

      Population (1997 est.): 9,389,000

      Capital: Niamey

      Head of state and government: President Gen. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, assisted by Prime Ministers Amadou Boubacar Cissé and, from November 27, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki

      Prime Minister Amadou Boubacar Cissé chose a new 27-member Cabinet in December 1996. Among his selections was Senoussi Jackou, deputy head of the opposition party Democratic and Social Convention (CDS); Jackou was immediately suspended by the CDS for accepting the post. On Jan. 11, 1997, demonstrators demanding restoration of full democracy to Niger clashed with police in Niamey. Three opposition leaders, one of them former president Mahamane Ousmane, were arrested within a few days. After two weeks of violent demonstrations in Niamey and Zinder, Pres. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara released the three detainees. In March police broke up an opposition rally near the National Assembly, and a ban on all demonstrations was declared. In April the government accused Canada, Germany, and the U.S. of supporting opposition groups it claimed were trying to destabilize the country. Dozens of opposition supporters were arrested by security forces after clashes in Maradi, Zinder, and Tahoua.

      On June 2, following an attack by Tuareg rebels on a military supply vehicle in Agadez, army soldiers staged a rebellion, taking hostage the region's three most senior government officials, all of whom were Tuaregs. Defense Minister Issoufou Ousmane Oubandawaki led negotiations with the mutinous soldiers, and the hostages were released the following day. In August Oubandawaki announced that the Democratic Renewal Front, the only Tuareg rebel group that had not signed the peace accord of April 1995, had finally agreed to do so.

      In a radio broadcast to the nation on November 24, President Mainassara announced that he was discharging the administration of Prime Minister Cissé on the grounds that it had not effectively dealt with such problems as the threat of famine and government security. He appointed a former foreign minister, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, as prime minister.


      This article updates Niger, history of (Niger).

▪ 1997

      Niger is a landlocked republic of West Africa. Area: 1,267,000 sq km (489,000 sq mi). Pop. (1996 est.): 9,465,000. Cap.: Niamey. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with (Oct. 11, 1996) a par value of CFAF 100 to the French franc and a free rate of CFAF 518.24 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 816.38 = £1 sterling). President in 1996, Mahamane Ousmane until January 27; chairman of the National Salvation Council from January 27 and president from August 7, Col. (and later Gen.) Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara; prime ministers, Hama Amadou until January 27, Boukary Adji from January 30, and, from December 21, Amadou Boubacar Cissé.

      Niger's six years of multiparty democracy ended abruptly on Jan. 27, 1996, when Col. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara (see BIOGRAPHIES (Mainassara, Ibrahim Bare )) overthrew the government of Pres. Mahamane Ousmane. Three days later Baré's new National Salvation Council (CSN) named economist Boukary Adji its new prime minister, along with an all-civilian Cabinet. On February 13 the ousted president, prime minister, and president of the National Assembly signed a joint declaration accepting the coup's legitimacy and agreeing to participate in a period of transition that would renew parliamentary democracy. The CSN suspended political parties and unions and dissolved the National Assembly, replacing it with a "Committee of Sages."

      On April 1, 600 delegates attended a National Forum for Democratic Renewal. They adopted a new constitution that placed virtually all power in the hands of an elected president.

      A national referendum on the new constitution passed overwhelmingly on May 12. The ban on political parties was lifted as the country prepared for presidential elections on July 7 and 8. In the election Baré won with 52.2% of the vote. Claiming massive vote fraud, opposition parties petitioned the Supreme Court to annul the results but were unsuccessful. After Baré suspended the Independent National Electoral Commission, opposition parties decided not to participate in the legislative elections on November 23.

      At the end of August, a new independent electoral commission was appointed, political rallies were allowed, and access to the media was guaranteed to all candidates.


      This article updates Niger, history of (Niger).

▪ 1996

      Niger is a landlocked republic of West Africa. Area: 1,287,000 sq km (497,000 sq mi). Pop. (1995 est.): 9,151,000. Cap.: Niamey. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with (Oct. 6, 1995) a par value of CFAF 100 to the French franc and a free rate of CFAF 501.49 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 792.78 = £1 sterling). President in 1995, Mahamane Ousmane; prime ministers, Souley Abdoulaye, Boubacar Cissé Amadou from February 8, and, from February 21, Hama Amadou.

      Opposition parties won an absolute majority of National Assembly seats in Niger's legislative elections on Jan. 12, 1995. Their coalition, led by the National Movement for the Developing Society-Victory, used a motion of censure to oust Prime Minister Boubacar Cissé Amadou and selected Hama Amadou as his replacement. Hama announced an austerity program that would curtail the travel and housing allowances of deputies. In March agreement was finally reached between the civil service union and the government over payment of salary arrears.

      Pres. Mahamane Ousmane refused to preside at the April 6 Council of Ministers meeting, precipitating a political crisis between the legislative and executive branches. In retaliation, Hama dismissed 19 heads of state-owned corporations, all of whom were presidential appointees. They were soon after reinstated. Mediation attempts, including one in July by Lieut. Col. Amadou Touré, who had led Niger's transition to democracy, failed. Finally, after the National Trade Union Association threatened to organize public demonstrations if the two men did not achieve a compromise, Mahamane agreed to attend a Cabinet meeting on August 16. In September the Supreme Court supported the prime minister and ordered Mahamane to enforce laws passed by the parliament.

      On April 24 the government and representatives of the Tuareg coalition entered into a peace agreement to end their three-year conflict. In June the National Assembly passed a full amnesty bill for former rebels, and on July 24 all jailed Tuaregs were released. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER)

      This updates the article Niger, history of (Niger).

▪ 1995

      Niger is a landlocked republic of West Africa. Area: 1,287,000 sq km (497,000 sq mi). Pop. (1994 est.): 8,813,000. Cap.: Niamey. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with (Oct. 7, 1994) a par value of CFAF 100 to the French franc and a free rate of CFAF 526.67 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 837.67 = £1 sterling). President in 1994, Mahamane Ousmane; prime ministers, Mahamadou Issoufou and, from September 28, Souley Abdoulaye.

      Efforts to resolve the Tuareg rebellion in northern Niger dominated the year. In May 40 people died in clashes between rebels and government troops. The two sides finally met in June in Paris, where an agreement was reached to give the main Tuareg coalition, the Coordination of Armed Resistance (CRA), limited regional autonomy over an area to be reserved for an estimated 750,000 Tuaregs. Although another armed confrontation occurred on September 28, the government and the CRA signed the peace accord in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on October 9.

      Student unrest over unpaid grants and other issues erupted into violent demonstrations in March. The government arrested 91 members of the former ruling party, now in opposition as the National Movement for the Developing Society, on charges of inciting student violence. Another 25 were detained following further student protests on April 16, and 3 of them were sentenced on May 19 to two-three-year prison terms.

      Pres. Mahamane Ousmane lost his parliamentary majority when the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) withdrew from the nine-party ruling coalition. On September 28 Prime Minister Mahamadou Issoufou of the PNDS resigned and was replaced by Souley Abdoulaye. The new government resigned on October 16 after a vote of no confidence. Abdoulaye was almost immediately renamed prime minister, but because he reinstated his old government, which did not command a majority in the National Assembly, Ousmane was obliged to call new elections. The December 31 election was later postponed to Jan. 14, 1995. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER)

      This updates the article Niger, history of (Niger).

▪ 1994

      Niger is a landlocked republic of West Africa. Area: 1,287,000 sq km (497,000 sq mi). Pop. (1993 est.): 8,516,000. Cap.: Niamey. Monetary unit: CFA franc, with (Oct. 4, 1993) a par value of CFAF 50 to the French franc and a free rate of CFAF 283.25 to U.S. $1 (CFAF 429.12 = £1 sterling). Presidents in 1993, Gen. Ali Saibou and, from March 27, Mahamane Ousmane; prime ministers, Amadou Cheiffou and, from April 17, Mahamadou Issoufou.

       Niger's 15-month transition to multiparty democracy was completed in 1993 elections described by 130 international observers as a model for Africa. Economist Mahamane Ousmane, the candidate of the coalition Alliance of the Forces of Change, won the second round of the March 27 presidential elections, taking 54.5% of the vote. The new government took steps to extend the three-month truce, declared by the Tuareg Liberation Front of Air and Azawad on March 19, promising to lift the state of emergency in the north, reestablish free movement across the Algerian border, and provide financial aid for returning refugees. The truce was renewed again in the autumn, but in mid-November France apparently decided to suspend its mediation mission.

      Following months of strikes by students, the academic year was declared null and void in May, and student demonstrations in November turned violent. Soldiers mutinied in four cities in July over cuts in the defense budget. On August 23 members of the parliamentary opposition organized protests in Niamey and other cities over alleged violations of the new constitution. (NANCY ELLEN LAWLER)

      This updates the article Niger, history of (Niger).

* * *

officially  Republic of Niger , French  République du Niger 
Niger, flag of landlocked western African country. It is bounded on the northwest by Algeria, on the northeast by Libya, on the east by Chad, on the south by Nigeria and Benin, and on the west by Burkina Faso and Mali. The capital is Niamey. The country takes its name from the Niger River, which flows through the southwestern part of its territory. The name Niger derives in turn from the phrase gher n-gheren, meaning “river among rivers,” in the Tamashek language.

The land (Niger)


      Niger extends for about 750 miles (1,200 kilometres) from north to south and about 930 miles from east to west. It tends to monotony in its features, is intersected by numerous depressions, and is dominated by arid highlands in the north. Rainfall increases as one proceeds southward so that the country divides naturally into three distinct zones—a desert zone in the north; an intermediate zone, where nomadic pastoralists raise cattle, in the centre; and a cultivated zone in the south. It is in this southern zone that the greater part of the population, both nomadic and settled, is concentrated.

      The highlands of the north are cut by valleys (kori) of the Aïr massif, which is an extension of the Ahaggar (Hoggar) Mountains of Algeria, and consists of a range running north to south in the centre of Niger, with individual mountain masses forming separate “islands”: from north to south these are Tazerzaït, where Mount Gréboun reaches an altitude of 6,379 feet (1,944 metres); Tamgak; Takolokouzet; Angornakouer; Bagzane; and Tarouadji. To the northeast is a series of high plateaus, which form a bridge between the Ahaggar Mountains of Algeria and the Tibesti Mountains of Chad. From west to east these are the plateaus of Djado, Mangueni, and Tchigaï.

      The sandy regions of the Nigerian Sahara extend to either side of the Aïr. To the west the Talak region includes the Tamesna area in the north (where fossil valleys are filled with moving sand dunes) and the Azaoua area in the south. East of the Aïr is the Ténéré region, covered partly by an expanse of sand called an erg, partly by a stony plain called a reg.

      The plateaus of the south, which form a belt about 900 miles long, may be divided into three regions. To the west is the Djerma Ganda region. Its large valleys are filled with sand, while dallol (fossilized valleys of rivers that formed tributaries of the Niger in ancient times) descend from the Aïr and the Iforas Massif of neighbouring Mali. The central region consists of the rocky Adar Doutchi and Majia areas; it is the region of the gulbi (dried-up valleys of former tributaries of the Sokoto River) and the Tegama—a tableland of sandstone, ending, toward the Aïr, at the Tiguidit scarp. To the east the underlying rock reappears in the Damagarim, Mounio, and Koutous regions, to the north of which is the region of Damergou, consisting of clays. In the Manga region, in the east, traces of ancient watercourses appear on the sandy plain.

Drainage and soils
      It is convenient to make a distinction between the ancient hydrographic system, which allowed agriculturalists, fishermen, and pastoralists to live in the Aïr region about 5,000 or 6,000 years ago, and the present simple system, which forms the basis of the marked difference between the northern and southern parts of the country. The present system includes to the west the Niger River basin and to the east the basin of Lake Chad; between the two occur vestiges of the older system, such as the dallol and the gulbi.

      To the west the Niger River crosses about 350 miles of Niger's territory. Because of the change in river flow, which occurs because of the dispersal of its waters in its interior delta region in Mali, it is only in January and February that it flows past Niamey in flood. At other times the river is fed by certain temporary watercourses that flow in from the right bank. These are the Gorouol, the Dargol, the Sirba, the Goroubi, the Djamangou, the Tapoa, and the Mékrou; the last two flow through the “W” National Park (so called because the Niger flows through the area in the form of a W). On the left bank, proceeding eastward, appear the dallol, the vestiges of the older watercourses. Generally running from north to south, they constitute zones of dampness, although a few still contain waters that flow toward the Niger. The best known are the Bosso, the Foga, and the Maouri wadis. Other vestiges consist of the kori, which run down from the Aïr and from former tributaries that had their sources in the Iforas Massif, and which flowed to a confluence at what is now the Ti-m-merhsoï Wadi. No waters flow through the kori now, but water is still to be found beneath their sands. Other remnants of the old system are formed by the gulbi, through which water still flows annually, occasionally causing damage.

      To the east is situated the basin of Lake Chad (Chad, Lake), a large, shallow lake, which at its highest contemporary level has an area of approximately 9,650 square miles; of this, Niger possesses about 1,100 square miles. Its extent is considerably reduced during the dry season. The Komadougou Yobé River, which flows into Lake Chad from the west, forms part of the frontier between Niger and Nigeria. Its water level, which begins to rise in August, from January to May consists only of some stagnant pools.

      In addition to the drainage system described, it may be noted that rainwater collects in several basins, so that some permanent lakes or pools also exist; these are found at Keïta and Adouna in the Adar Doutchi region, at Madaroumfa in the Maradi gulbi, and at Guidimouni to the east of Zinder. The water table in some areas can also be tapped to produce artesian wells.

      The soils fall into three natural regions. In the Saharan (Sahara) region in the north the soil is infertile, except in a few oases where water is found. In the region known as the Sahel, which forms a transitional zone between the Sahara and the region to the south, the soils are thin and white, being covered with salty deposits resulting from intense evaporation that forms an infertile surface crust. The third region (in the south) is cultivated. In this area the soils are associated with extensive dunes or uplands or with basins or depressions. Some of the soils in the latter, such as those in the Niger basin and in the gulbi, are rich. Black soils occur in the Kolo basin. Throughout the region, however, and above all on the plateaus, less fertile lateritic (leached iron-bearing) soils occur.

      Niger extends southward from the tropic of Cancer, and the northern two-thirds of its territory lies in dry tropical desert. In the southern part of the country the climate is of the type known as Sahelian, which is characterized by a single, short rainy season. In January and February the continental equivalent of the northeast trade winds, the harmattan, blows southwestward from the Sahara toward the equator. Typically dust-laden, dry, and desiccating, the harmattan hinders normal living conditions on the southern fringe of the desert. From April to May the southern trade winds (trade wind) blowing from the Atlantic reach the equator and are diverted toward the Sahara where they meet with the harmattan—an encounter that results in violent line squalls and that signals the beginning of the rainy season. The rains last from one to four months, according to the latitude; August is the rainy month everywhere except in the far north, where the rainfall is unpredictable.

      Niger lies in one of the hottest regions of the world. Temperatures rise from February to May and drop during the “winter” rainy season, rising again somewhat before falling to their annual minimum averages in December or January. During May (the hottest month), afternoon temperatures are high everywhere, ranging from a low of about 108° F (42° C) at Nguigmi on Lake Chad to 113° F (45° C) at Bilma and Agadez, both in the northern desert. In January, afternoon temperatures average more than 90° F (mid-30s C) at most stations but at night may drop to freezing level in the desert. The daily range is greater in the desert north than in the south and is also more extreme during the dry season.

      Rainfall varies according to location as well as season. The 10-inch isohyet (line on a map connecting points having equal rainfall) follows a line from near Tahoua to Gouré, in effect marking the northern limit of nomadic pastoral life, for the rainfall permits a sparse vegetation to grow. To the extreme south the 30-inch isohyet marks the southern limit of this zone, after which the southern agricultural zone begins. In the course of the same rainy season a most irregular spatial pattern of rainfall may occur, while from one year to another the total amount of rainfall may also vary; in addition, the rainy season itself may arrive early or late, thus jeopardizing crops.

Plant and animal life
      The vegetation of the desert zone clusters around the oases; it includes the date palm and cultivated corn (maize). Animal life, which must be able to endure hunger and thirst, includes the dromedary.

      In the Sahel zone, where the doum palm and the cram-cram (Cenchrus biflorus, a prickly grass) appear, the vegetation has a short life cycle and is principally used for grazing. Animal life includes the ostrich and the gazelle.

      In the cultivated zone the vegetation includes acacia trees, doum palms, and palmyra palms, as well as baobabs. Wildlife, which has partially disappeared, includes antelope, elephants, and warthogs; giraffes are found in the Zarmaganda and Damergou regions, and hippopotamuses and crocodiles on the banks of the Niger. The extreme southwest is a savanna region where baobabs, kapok trees, and tamarind trees occur. Animal life is preserved in the “W” National Park, where antelope, lions, buffalo, hippopotamuses, and elephants may be seen.

Settlement patterns
      The southern part of Niger's territory is situated in the vast region of Africa known as the Sudan, in which, in former times, large political states arose, such as Ghana, Mali, and Songhai, as well as the Hausa states, the empire of Sokoto, and Bornu. The northern part of Niger remains the domain of the Tuareg. The country comprises a multitude of traditional regions, the names of which remain despite the establishment of contemporary administrative divisions. All these regions have a fluctuating political, economic, and geographic significance: the Hausa regions, for example, have been cut in two and divided between Niger and Nigeria. Most regions, moreover, have been and remain zones where contact takes place between different peoples—between the Hausa and the Tuareg in the Adar Doutchi region, for example; between the Tuareg and the Kanuri in the Damergou region; and between Hausa and Zarma (Zerma, Djerma) in the Aréoua area.

      About one-fifth of the population live in towns. The rural population comprises nomads and sedentary peoples. There are some 10,000 villages, of which approximately half have only a few hundred inhabitants; there are practically no villages in the desert zone. Fulani (Peul) herdsmen, who breed horned cattle and oxen, and the Tuareg, who raise goats, sheep, and dromedaries, tend to travel over the northern region during the winter. They meet together to permit the cattle to lick the salty soil of the In Gall region during August and September but move southward during the dry season. Both Fulani and Tuareg live in tribal groups, in temporary or portable shelters, and gain their subsistence from their livestock. The Fulani subsist above all on milk in various forms; the Tuareg live on meat and dates.

      Sedentary peoples, such as the Hausa, the Songhai-Zarma, and the Kanuri, who inhabit the Niger and Chad basins, live largely by agriculture. They raise millet, rice, corn, peanuts (groundnuts), and cotton. They also work as blacksmiths and shoemakers, while on the banks of Lake Chad and the Niger the Buduma and Sorko peoples are fishermen. Sedentary peoples live in dwellings that vary from those made of straw to those made of banco (hardened mud), although the Wogo people live in tents of delicate matting.

      There is a tendency among the nomads to settle down, and the already sedentary peoples are expanding the lands under cultivation toward the north. Rural life, above all in its sedentary form, tends to slow its pace during the long dry season; it is at this time of year that migration to the towns or other countries occurs.

      It was approximately in the 15th century that a few towns, such as Agadez or Zinder, were first established as halting places, or depots, on the trans-Saharan caravan routes. As commercial routes gradually developed on the coasts, however, these northern towns lost their former economic importance, while other centres, such as Birni Nkonni, and Tessaoua, declined in the course of the 19th century as a result of the colonial era.

      There are four principal towns in Niger. Niamey, the political capital, has experienced rapid growth. It has a cosmopolitan character and a transient population. Its characteristic life varies between the European and African rural styles, including various intermediate steps, of which the life-style of the évolués (educated Africans) is the most distinctive. Zinder, for which the African name is Damagaram, is an older town than Niamey; a Hausa town, it was the capital of Niger until 1926 and has a number of skilled craftsmen, especially leatherworkers and dyers. The town has experienced some industrial growth and has close links with Nigeria. Maradi has developed rapidly. The town is situated in the heart of the peanut-growing region near the Nigerian frontier. Many European companies have established branches there; the town is particularly renowned for its red goats, the skins of which are exported to Europe and the Americas. Tahoua has grown up on the edge of the desert. There it forms a large livestock market, where pastoralists and farmers meet. All of the towns remain little more than modest administrative and commercial centres, but because of the discovery of uranium ore Agadez has experienced a spectacular growth.

The people

Linguistic groups
      The largest linguistic group is formed by the Hausa (Hausa language), whose language, also spoken in Nigeria (Niger), is one of the most important in western Africa. A large percentage of the inhabitants of Niger understand Hausa, which possesses an abundant literature that has been printed in Latin characters in Nigeria. Songhai (Songhai languages) is the second most important language; it is also spoken in Mali, in northern Burkina Faso, and in northern Benin. In Niger itself it is divided into various dialects, such as Songhai proper, Zarma, and Dendi. The language of the Fulani is Fula; in Niger it has two dialects, eastern and western, the demarcation line between them running through the Boboye district. Tamashek is the language of the Tuareg, who often call themselves the Kel Tamagheq, or Tamashek speakers. The language is also spoken in Algeria and Mali and possesses its own writing, called tifinagh, which is in widespread use. Kanuri (Kanuri language) is spoken not only in Niger but also in Cameroon and Nigeria; the tongue is called Beriberi by the Hausa. While these five languages are the principal ones spoken in Niger, there is also an important Teda (Teda language) linguistic group in the Tibesti region. In addition, many of the peoples of Niger speak Arabic (Arabic language), and a still larger number read and write in that language; Agadez possesses one of the oldest Arabic schools in Africa. The use of the Arabic alphabet resulted in Fula and Hausa becoming written languages; the script is called ajami; a search for more old manuscripts in ajami is being conducted.

      By using Hausa and Songhai, one may make oneself understood from one end of the country to the other. French (French language), however, remains the official language, as well as the language of instruction, although it remains understood only by a small minority. English is taught as the principal foreign language in secondary schools.

Ethnic groups
      Ethnic groups correspond to the five linguistic groups already mentioned. The Hausa are the largest group, constituting more than half of the present population, though the majority of the Hausa people live in Nigeria. The Hausa occupy the centre of southern Niger as far as Dogondoutchi. The Songhai-Zarma (Songhai) are found in the southwest; the Songhai proper live along the Niger, where they are assimilating the Kurtey and Wogo peoples. The majority of the Songhai people as a whole, however, live in Mali. The Zarma live on the left bank of the Niger, remaining in close contact with the Mauri and Arewa peoples. The Fulani, who are dispersed throughout the country, are mostly nomadic; they are also found dispersed throughout western Africa. The Tuareg, also nomadic, are divided into three subgroups—the Iullemmiden of the Azaouak region in the west, the Asben (Kel Aïr) in the Aïr region, and the Itesen (Kel Geres) to the south and east of Aïr. The Tuareg people are also found in Algeria and in Mali. The Kanuri, who live to the east of Zinder, are divided into a number of subgroups—the Manga, the Dogara (Dagara), the Mober, the Buduma, and the Kanembu; they are also found living in Chad, Cameroon, and Nigeria. Apart from the nomadic Teda of the Tibesti region, who constitute an important minority, the remainder of the population consists of Arabs, black Africans from other countries, and Europeans, of whom the greater part are French.

Religious groups
      More than 95 percent of the population adhere to the Sunnite branch of Islām. Although the Annaawaa group of Hausa have always refused to accept Islām, as have a group of Fulani, the Wodaabe—who distinguish themselves from other Fulani for this reason—Islām remains the religion of the majority of both Hausa and Fulani. Christianity (Roman Catholicism and Protestantism) remains a religion of the towns, particularly of Niamey. There are several Christian missions in the Songhai and Arewa areas. Christianity is primarily a European religion, although it is also practiced by some black Africans from other countries. The traditional animist religions of the black Africans continue to manifest themselves in strength.

The economy
      The economic system is based upon planning but accords an important role to private enterprise. The three main policy objectives are the maintenance of national unity, the elevation of the living standards of the population, and the attainment of economic independence. The private sector of the economy consists partly of a multitude of small enterprises and partly of enterprises belonging to large French or international companies. The government, through the agency of the Development Bank of the Republic of Niger, which is funded partly by aid from abroad, has promoted the establishment of many companies, including real estate, road transport, air transport, and agricultural processing enterprises.

      Niger is encouraging economic links between African countries. Apart from its membership in the Organization of African Unity, Niger is a member—together with Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Togo—of the Conseil de l'Entente, a regional cooperative group, as well as of the Organisation Commune Africaine et Mauricienne, another group of French-speaking African states.

      Salt is traditionally exploited in the Kaouar and Aïr regions, as well as in the dallol, and in the Manga district. Natron (hydrated sodium carbonate) is extracted locally. Cassiterite (an ore of tin) is mined at open workings in Aïr. Small quantities of gold are obtained by panning in the Sirba River. Limestone and an important deposit of gypsum have been located at Malbaza and in the Ader Doutchi and Majia region. Niger's known reserves of uranium rank among the most important in the world. Apart from tungsten in the Aïr region, traces of copper, lignite (a brownish black coal), molybdenum, zinc, phosphates, and titanium have been found and are the subject of further prospection. A reserve of iron ore, with an iron content of about 50 percent, has been located in the Say region; and petroleum deposits have been discovered in the Lake Chad area.

      The exploitation of plant resources has long been practiced but on a small scale. The doum palm and the palmyra palm provide wood for construction, while the palms of the Manga oasis produce dates. Small amounts of kapok (a silky down from the kapok tree, used for insulation, life jackets, and so forth) and of gum from the acacia gum tree are exported. Skins of ostriches, crocodiles, and snakes are used for making handicrafts that are exported to Europe. Fish from the Niger River and Lake Chad are exported southward to the coastal countries.

      Agriculture and agricultural products constitute the largest sector of Niger's economy in terms of the number of persons employed and the percentage of gross national product (GNP). Millet and sorghum, the main food crops, are grown in the south, as are cassava and sugarcane. Rice is grown in the Niger River valley. Peanuts are the most important cash crop; other important crops include cotton and pulses.

      Livestock is an important sector of the agricultural economy and is a major export. Cattle, sheep, and goats are raised for meat, milk, and hides.

      Niger's ability to remain self-sufficient in food and livestock production is closely linked to rainfall, and periods of drought have resulted in shortfalls requiring imports and food aid. To increase production and avoid cereal shortfalls, the government has invested in irrigation projects and an “off-season growing program” of small-scale production and irrigation operations.

      Niger is one of the world's leading producers of uranium, which is mined at Arlit, Akouta, and Tassa. Extraction at the Arlit site is undertaken by the French-controlled Société des Mines de l'Aïr (SOMAIR). The second major mining concern, the Compagnie Minière d'Akouta (COMINAK), is owned partly by the government of Niger and partly by foreign interests. The Tassa mine opened in 1986 and is operated by SOMAIR. The uranium industry was seriously affected by the fall in uranium prices in the early 1980s. Development of additional sites is dependent upon an increase in world uranium prices.

      Some manufacturing industries have been established, mostly at Niamey. They produce chemicals, food products, textiles, farm equipment, and metal furniture. There are many small craft industries in the principal towns.

      Imported petroleum, supplemented by locally mined coal, is used to generate about half of Niger's electricity, and the remaining amount is imported from Nigeria. The Office of Solar Energy has produced solar batteries, which are used in the country's telecommunications network, and peanut shells have been experimentally used to supplement hydrocarbon fuels since 1968. Wood is the traditional domestic fuel.

      While the economically active zone of Niger runs from east to west across the southern part of the country, the principal lines of communication run southward toward the coast. The two ports used by Niger—Cotonou in Benin and Lagos in Nigeria—are each more than 600 miles away, and Niger possesses no railroad. Traditional systems of transport and communication are still largely relied upon. These include camel caravans in the northern Sahel region, canoes on Lake Chad and the Niger, and individual travel on horseback or on foot. Only a small tonnage of goods is transported.

      Trucks maintain transport communications between Maradi and Zinder in Niger and Kano in Nigeria, and between Niamey and Parakou in Benin. A road completed in 1981 connects the uranium-producing centres of Arlit and Akouta to Nigerian transport links. The principal west–east road axis enters the country from Gao in Mali, runs on the banks of the Niger as far as Niamey, and then continues eastward to Nguigmi on Lake Chad. From this central route, roads branch off southward. Toward the north, routes running via Tahoua and Tânout converge near Agadez, linking Niger to Algeria via Tamanrasset.

      Air Niger is responsible for domestic air services linking the country's airports, including those of Tahoua, Maradi, Zinder, Agadez, Diffa, and Arlit. Niamey has an international airport.

Administration and social conditions

      Under the constitution of 1999, Niger is a republic. The president is head of state and is elected to a five-year term by popular vote. He appoints the prime minister and the Council of Ministers. Legislative power is vested in the unicameral National Assembly; members are popularly elected and serve five-year terms. Niger's judicial system comprises the High Court of Justice, Supreme Court, Constitutional Court, and Courts of First Instance.

      For administrative purposes, Niger is divided into seven départements (departments)—Agadez, Diffa, Dosso, Maradi, Niamey, Tahoua, and Zinder—each of which is administered by a prefect. Each department is further divided into several districts, with each district led by a subprefect.

      Education in Niger is free, but only a small proportion of children attend school. Primary and secondary schools and teacher-training colleges are the responsibility of the Ministry of National Education. Other ministries are responsible for technical education. Niger has one of the lowest adult literacy rates in western Africa, and literacy programs are conducted in the five principal African languages. Niamey has a university, and the Islamic University of Niger opened at Say in 1987.

Health and welfare
      The general state of health in the country is poor, and health care facilities are inadequate, especially in rural areas. The infant mortality rate, about 125 per 1,000 live births, is one of the highest in western Africa. Health services concentrate on the eradication of certain diseases in rural areas, as well as on health education. Campaigns have been successfully waged against sleeping sickness and meningitis, and vaccinations against smallpox and measles are administered. Other diseases, however, such as tuberculosis, malaria, and leprosy, remain endemic. Antituberculosis centres are located at Niamey, Zinder, and Tahoua. The lack of finances and shortage of trained personnel remain the principal obstacles to the improvement of health conditions.

Cultural life
      Niger forms part of the vast Sahelian cultural region of western Africa. Although the influence of Islām is predominant, pre-Islāmic cultural traditions are also strong and omnipresent. Since independence, greater interest has been shown in the country's cultural heritage, particularly with respect to traditional architecture, handicrafts, dances, and music. With the assistance of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, a regional centre for the collection of oral traditions has been established at Niamey. An institution prominent in cultural life is the National Museum at Niamey.

Diouldé Laya Ed.

      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 centre, 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 (Kanem-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.

      The French conquest began in earnest only in 1899. It nearly met with disaster owing to the local population's determined resistance against the notorious expedition in 1899 led by the French officers Captain Paul Voulet and Captain Charles Chanoine. It was only in 1922, after the severe drought and famine of 1913–15 and the Tuareg uprising of 1916–17, that the French felt safe enough to establish a regular administration under civilian control. By then the power of the Tuareg had been broken.

      As elsewhere, the peace in French West Africa (pax gallica) meant, among other things, the rapid spread of Islam, a steep demographic increase, and, although exclusively among the Hausa, the extension of cash crop cultivation. The Songhai-Zarma, on the other hand, responded to the French tax demands by engaging themselves as seasonal labourers in the coastal regions.

      Through the reforms of 1946, France's African subjects were in theory granted full citizenship. Thus Niger, along with the other colonies (renamed “overseas territories”) in black Africa, was represented in the French parliament. Consultative-legislative assemblies were also set up locally. These reforms secured the ascent of a tiny new elite, the so-called évolués—i.e., those who had been trained in French schools. Many were descendants of former slaves, and most were Songhai-Zarma. Indeed, the people of the west had proved to be far more open to European influence than, for instance, the Hausa.

      At least until 1954–55 the French administration (headed for 12 years by Governor Jean Toby) remained firmly in control of the political situation. The first local executive was established in 1957. Its head, the left-wing trade unionist Djibo Bakary, advocated a no vote in the referendum of 1958, but 72 percent of the votes cast were in favour of a continued link with France. Nevertheless, under Bakary's successor, his cousin and fellow Songhai-Zarma Hamani Diori (Diori, Hamani), independence was proclaimed on August 3, 1960.

      Diori, who set up a single-party dictatorship, was toppled in a coup in 1974. There followed a military dictatorship headed first by Seyni Kountché (until his death in 1987) and then by Ali Seibou. Mahamane Ousmane of the Social Democratic Convention became president in the country's first multiparty presidential elections in 1993. Meanwhile, a Tuareg rebellion that had begun in the northern part of the country in the early 1990s gained momentum until a cease-fire agreement in 1995 ended much of the fighting. Ousmane was ousted in 1996 during a military coup led by Colonel Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara (Maïnassara, Ibrahim Baré). After a brief period of military rule, Maïnassara was elected president in elections marred by anomalies. Maïnassara's administration was not well-received, and in 1999 he was assassinated during a coup that was followed by a nine-month transitional government led by Major Daouda Malam Wanké and the National Reconciliation Council (Conseil de Reconciliation Nationale; CRN).

      Later that year a new constitution was promulgated and elections were held, leading to the subsequent return to democratic government under President Mamadou Tandja of the National Movement for a Developing Society (Mouvement National pour une Société de Développement; MNSD).

      At the beginning of the 21st century, increasing demand for the adoption of Islamic Sharīʿah law was the root of much conflict between Islamic activists and Nigeriens who were not in favour of the strict religious code. Niger struggled to maintain its fragile peace as well as to improve its dismal economic situation. Tandja's leadership was widely credited with bringing political stability to Niger, and he was reelected in 2004.

      The issue of slavery—still prevalent in Niger and other West African countries despite the fact that it is illegal—was brought to the forefront in 2008 when the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice found the Nigerien government guilty of failing to protect a woman from slavery by not enforcing the country's antislavery laws. Activists hailed the verdict as a historic human rights victory and hoped that the ruling would encourage the enforcement of antislavery laws not only in Niger but also in other West African countries bound by the ECOWAS ruling.

Finn Fuglestad Ed.

Additional Reading
Arouna Hamidou Sidikou and Philippe Claude Chamard, Géographie du Niger (1976); and Pierre Donaint and François Lancrenon, Le Niger, 3rd ed. rev. and updated (1984), are general works. Ethnographic studies include Catherine Baroin, Anarchie et cohésion sociale chez les Toubo (1985); Angelo Maliki Bonfiglioli, Dudal: histoire de famille et histoire de troupeau chez un groupe de Wodaabe du Niger (1989); Peter Fuchs, Das Brot der Wüste: Sozio-ökonomie der Sahara-Kanuri von Fachi (1983); Henri Guillaume, Les Nomades interrompus: introduction à l'étude du canton twareg de l'Imanan (1974); Johannes Nicolaisen, Ecology and Culture of the Pastoral Tuareg (1963); Guy Nicolas, Dynamique sociale et appréhension du monde au sein d'une société hausa (1975); Jean-Pierre Olivier De Sardan, Système des relations économiques et sociales chez les Wogo, Niger (1969); Marc Henri Piault, Histoire Mawri: introduction à l'étude des processus constitutifs d'un état (1970); and Maïkorema Zakari, Contribution à l'histoire des populations du sud-est nigérien: le cas du Mangari (XVIe–XIXe s.) (1985). Two city studies are Suzanne Bernus, Niamey: population et habitat (1962); and Edmond Bernus and Suzanne Bernus, Du Sel et des dattes: introduction a l'étude de la communauté d'In Gall et de Tegidda-n-tesamt (1972). Historical treatments include Edmond Séré de Rivières, Histoire du Niger (1965); Finn Fuglestad, A History of Niger, 1850–1960 (1983); Stephen Baier, An Economic History of Central Niger (1980); and Samuel Decalo, Historical Dictionary of Niger, 2nd ed. (1987).Finn Fuglestad

      state, west-central Nigeria, bounded to the south by the Niger River. It is also bounded by the states of Kebbi and Zamfara to the north, Kaduna to the north and northeast, Kogi to the southeast, and Kwara to the south. The Abuja Federal Capital Territory is on Niger state's eastern border, and the Republic of Benin (Benin) is its western border. The landscape consists mostly of wooded savannas and includes the floodplains of the Kaduna River.

      Slave raiding by the Fulani (Fulani empire) armies of the Kontagora and Nupe emirates in the 19th century severely depopulated the region, and the presence of the tsetse fly (which transmits trypanosomiasis, or sleeping sickness) has hindered resettlement. Niger province was created by the British in 1908 and called Nupe province from 1918 to 1926; it included the Abuja, Agaie, Bida, Kontagora, and Lapai emirates, the Gwari (Gbari), Kamuku, and Wushishi chiefdoms, and the Zuru federation. In 1967 Niger province became the southern part of North-Western state, and in 1976 it became Niger state (excluding the newly created Abuja Federal Capital Territory). In 1991 part of northwestern Kwara state, lying between the Niger River and the Republic of Benin, was added to Niger state.

      Niger state is populated mainly by the Nupe people in the south, the Gwari in the east, the Busa in the west, and Kamberi (Kambari), Hausa, Fulani, Kamuku, and Dakarki (Dakarawa) in the north. Islam is the predominant religion. Most of the inhabitants are engaged in farming. Cotton, shea nuts, yams, and peanuts (groundnuts) are cultivated both for export and for domestic consumption. Sorghum, millet, cowpeas, corn (maize), tobacco, palm oil and kernels, kola nuts, sugarcane, and fish are also important in local trade. Paddy rice is widely grown as a cash crop in the floodplains of the Niger and Kaduna rivers, especially in the area around Bida. Cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, and guinea fowl are raised for meat. Pigs are raised around Minna for sale to southern Nigeria.

      Gold, tin, iron, and quartz (used by the glass artisans in Bida) are mined mainly for local craftsmen. Pottery, brass work, glass manufactures, raffia articles, and locally dyed cloth are significant exports. Marble is quarried at Kwakuti, near Minna, the state capital; and Minna has a brick-making factory. Niger state has a share in all three dams of the Niger Dams Project, including one at Shiroro Gorge on the Kaduna River and one at Jebba (in Kwara state), the reservoir of which lies partly in Niger state. The Kainji Dam (1969) and part of its reservoir, Kainji Lake, also lie in the state. Besides generating hydroelectric power, these dams sustain irrigation projects, and fishing has developed as an industry on their reservoirs. Most of Kainji Lake National Park (formerly Borgu Game Reserve) is in Niger state.

      Minna and Bida are the state's chief towns and also the main education centres, with teacher-training colleges, a polytechnic institute in Bida, and a federal university of technology in Minna. Near Bida there is a rice research institute and an agricultural research station. A railway from Lagos traverses Niger state. The main highway system runs north of the railway and serves the market towns of Mokwa, Kontagora, Tegina, Kagara, and Kusheriki. The state's other large towns are served by networks of local roads. Area 29,484 square miles (76,363 square km) Pop. (2006) 3,950,249.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

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