Niger Basic Facts - History

Population 2002..............................................................10,639,7442
GDP per capita 2001 (Purchasing Power Parity, US$).........820
GDP 2001 (Purchasing Power Parity, US$ billions)................ 8.4

Average annual growth 1991-97
Population (%) ....... 3.4
Labor force (%) .......3.1

Total Area...................................................................489,206 sq. mi.
Poverty (% of population below national poverty line)...... 63

Urban population (% of total population) ...............................19
Life expectancy at birth (years).....................................................47
Infant mortality (per 1,000 live births).......................................118
Child malnutrition (% of children under 5) ..............................43
Access to safe water (% of population) ..................................... 48
Illiteracy (% of population age 15+) ........................................86


Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2013 est.): $13.98 billion per capita $800. Real growth rate: 6.2%. Inflation: 1.9%. Unemployment: n.a. Arable land: 11.79%. Agriculture: cowpeas, cotton, peanuts, millet, sorghum, cassava (tapioca), rice cattle, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, horses, poultry. Labor force: 4.688 million (2007 est.) agriculture 90%, industry and commerce 6%, government 4%. Industries: uranium mining, cement, brick, soap, textiles, food processing, chemicals, slaughterhouses. Natural resources: uranium, coal, iron ore, tin, phosphates, gold, petroleum. Exports: $1.539 billion (2013): uranium ore, livestock, cowpeas, onions. Imports: $2.314 billion (2013): foodstuffs, machinery, vehicles and parts, petroleum, cereals. Major trading partners: France, Nigeria, U.S., French Polynesia, Cte d'Ivoire, China, Togo, Ghana, India, Italy (2012).

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 100,500 (2012) mobile cellular: 5.4 million (2012). Broadcast media: state-run TV station 3 private TV stations provide a mix of local and foreign programming state-run radio has only radio station with a national reach about 30 private radio stations operate locally as many as 100 community radio stations broadcast transmissions of multiple international broadcasters are available (2007). Internet hosts: 454 (2012). Internet users: 115,900 (2009).

Transportation: Railways: 0 km. Roadways: total: 18,949 km paved: 3,912 km unpaved: 15,037 km (2010). Waterways: the Niger is navigable 300 km from Niamey to Gaya on the Benin frontier from mid-December through March. Ports and harbors: none. Airports: 30 (2013).

International disputes: Libya claims about 25,000 sq km in a currently dormant dispute in the Tommo region location of Benin-Niger-Nigeria tripoint is unresolved only Nigeria and Cameroon have heeded the Lake Chad Commission's admonition to ratify the delimitation treaty that also includes the Chad-Niger and Niger-Nigeria boundaries the dispute with Burkina Faso was referred to the ICJ in 2010.

Niger — History and Culture

Niger is a country in Africa that has an ancient history, and most of modern civilization can trace its roots back to this area. However, unforeseen environmental change altered the social make up of Niger, and complex societies were gradually changed into nomadic clans that still populate the landscape today. Further intrusion, albeit this time political in nature, changed society once again in Niger when the French colonized the region in the early 20th century. Since independence the country has experienced political turmoil and is today still attempting to find a path forward.


The encroaching Sahara Desert has not been kind to the environment and history of Niger and its people. 5,000 years ago the north of the country was fertile grassland, and was populated by early farmers who domesticated animals and created a complex society. In a process known as desertification, around 2,000 years ago the habitat changed, and the inhabitants of Niger were forced to become nomadic, an indigenous culture that still remains today.

Later in history, one of the great empires of Africa called the Songhai expanded into modern day Niger, as far as Agadez, until its collapse in 1591. In the 13th century, the nomadic Tuareg pushed south into the Air Mountains, and then continued to rule over most of northern Niger, and into parts of what is now Nigeria. Strong Tuareg culture is still observed in the city of Agadez.

Different parts of the country remained ruled over by various tribes, and by the 19th century the city of Zinder had become an important hub. The first contact with Europeans came in the 19th century, when the first explorers came searching for the source of the Niger River. The territory of Nigeria was already the domain of the British, and Mungo Park traveled northwards from there in his exploration. All of the ethnic groups of Niger rebelled against European intrusion, and Niger was not finally conquered as a colony until 1922, when the French claimed it as their own.

Actually, Niger was amongst the last of African nations to be colonized by Europeans, but even after WWI the age of empire was alive and the French had vested interests in the natural resources that Niger held. Today, Niger’s economy relies heavily on subsistence crops and livestock although it also contains some of the world’s largest uranium deposits buried underground. The drive toward nuclear technological advances by the middle of the 20th century ensured that Niger was kept firmly in the clutches of the French.

However, compared to other colonies, the existence of Niger as a colony was comparatively short lived, as the country gained independence in 1960. Almost immediately, because of the power vacuum left behind once the French had departed, Niger succumbed to brutal military rule for the next 30 years until 1991. A small return to democracy happened here, but was followed by further military rule from 1996 to 1999. Since then, Niger has returned to democracy, in what is labeled the ‘fifth republic’, however, politics remains extremely unstable in the country. In 2011 a military junta took office, albeit not by force, and for the last few years the vast barren landscape of Niger has been a hotbed of activity for international Islamic fundamentalist terrorist groups.

The political situation has not been helped by the fact that Niger has been kept extremely poor since its independence little over 50 years ago, since its subsistence economy is at the mercy of unavoidable environmental degradation such as drought and desertification. This, and also the drop in demand for uranium since the 1960s, prior to this a lucrative export for the country, have kept Niger poor.


Most of northern and western Africa has been influenced by Islam, since it spread westwards from the Middle East. Niger is no different, with around 90 percent of the population being Muslim. The rest of the population follows the Baha’i faith, also originating in the Middle East, and Christianity, as an influence of the French colonization. A further proportion following traditional, indigenous beliefs known as animism (a religious belief that animals, plants, and other inanimate objects such as rocks possess spiritual essence, and are worshipped).

Modern Niger culture is steeped in tradition, either following the Islamic doctrine that has been adhered to since the 10th century, or reflecting the indigenous, typically African traditions. French colonialism has also had an influence in the Niger of today, although the country has found it difficult to join the modern global culture of the 21st century. The only place you are likely to find modern culture is in the country’s largest urban area, Niamey, where modern fashions and music are followed like in any other capital city.


Niger is a vast country located in the heart of the Sahel region. Classified as extremely low income, Niger is faced with a triple crisis, arising from the country's security and humanitarian situation and, more recently, a health challenge associated with the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Its economy is not well diversified and depends primarily on agriculture, which accounts for 40% of its GDP. Despite significant strides made by Niger over the past decade, the country’s extreme poverty rate remained high at 42.9% in 2020, affecting more than 10 million people.

Political and Security Context

Mohamed Bazoum, the candidate of the party in power, was elected president in elections held in December 2020 and February 2021. He assumed office on April 2, 2021, marking the first democratic transfer of power in the country.

Niger has been facing a security crisis in recent years in the areas bordering Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Mali, where armed groups carry out attacks against the security forces and civilians. A state of emergency was declared in the regions of Diffa, Tahoua and Tillaberi. Niger has also been grappling for the past few years with an influx of refugees fleeing conflicts in the region, particularly in Nigeria and Mali. In February 2021, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) listed 241,321 refugees and 300,320 displaced persons on its territory.

The health and security crises threaten to undermine the progress made by Niger in terms of economic growth. Real growth fell from 5.9% in 2019 to 0.8% in 2020, owing to the pandemic and increasingly violent terrorist attacks. Inflation stood at 3.4% in 2020, fueled by supply disruptions and speculative behavior. In terms of the outlook for 2021, the reopening of the border with Nigeria, the resumption of major investment projects and the normalization of supply chains augur well for an economic turnaround and growth of 4.7%.

Recent gains in combating poverty are in danger of being wiped out, following a 3% drop in per capita income in 2020. With poverty rising by 1.3%, 685,000 additional people have joined the ranks of the extreme poor. The COVID-19 pandemic is having a negative impact on Nigerien households, owing primarily to loss of income from layoffs, a drop in remittances, and a decline in human capital endowment. School closures are expected to lead to higher dropout rates, especially among girls and the most vulnerable. It is estimated that the number of people living in extreme poverty will increase by 300,000 in 2021, owing mainly to population growth. Based on projections, the country will not be able to reduce its poverty rate to pre-COVID-19 levels before end-2023.

In September 2017, Niger adopted a new Economic and Social Development Plan (PDES), which the World Bank used to prepare its Country Partnership Framework with Niger (CPF) for the period 2018-2022. The World Bank’s strategy in Niger is based on three pillars:

  • Boosting productivity and income in rural areas
  • Developing human capital and social protection and
  • Strengthening governance.

The goal is to accelerate economic and social development in Niger by tackling the obstacles that impede growth and poverty reduction efforts. The World Bank’s strategy will also address fragility, conflict and violence (FCV) risks by drawing on the IDA Prevention and Resilience Allocation (PRA) to support Niger’s response to existing crises and help reduce rising tensions.

The World Bank currently finances 22 national and 10 regional projects valued at US$2.98 billion (grants and loans included). These projects and technical assistance services support the development of several sectors:

  • Water and sanitation (14%)
  • Mining and energy (13%)
  • Social protection and employment (10%)
  • Agriculture (9%)
  • Health and nutrition (8%)
  • Education (8%)
  • Transport and infrastructure (2%)
  • Assistance with reforms (8%)
  • Urban development, disaster management and resilience (7%)
  • Governance (5%)
  • Environment and natural resources (3%)
  • Digital development (3%)
  • Finance and competitiveness (2%)

The Niger Refugees and Host Communities Support Project (PARCA) was approved in September 2018. Its objective is to improve access to basic services and enhance economic opportunities for refugees and host populations. Moreover, Niger benefits from special financing mechanisms from the International Development Association (IDA), designed to help low-income countries respond to a significant flow of refugees, as well as from additional financing aimed at addressing factors contributing to fragility and violence.

On April 15, 2020, the World Bank provided emergency financing of US$13.95 million to help the country respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Finance Corporation (IFC)

In recent years, IFC has focused on identifying various ways to support private sector development.

It focuses on the following main areas:

  • Support for micro, small and medium enterprises through partnerships with national financial institutions
  • Strengthening of the agrifood sector by developing financial solutions (including by connecting small farmers with buyers in the context of the Niger irrigation project).
  • Promotion of private sector participation in infrastructure development, especially in solar energy production.
  • Improvement of the business climate.

As part of the Sahel Irrigation Initiative, the Management Advisory Service (MAS) launched a project in 2016 to spur private investment in irrigated agriculture. Efforts were intensified in late 2017, with the organization of the Niger Renaissance Conference in Paris and large-scale private sector participation.

Building on this momentum, in early 2019, the MAS team organized consultative support for about 20 small and medium enterprises in order to enhance their ability to mobilize funds from local financial intermediaries (including IFC clients).

The following are some examples of progress made possible by World Bank financing:

The World Bank is helping Niger transform its electricity sector with a view to increasing access to electricity for all its people on a sustainable basis. The World Bank provides financial and technical support through two major projects, namely the Niger Electricity Access Expansion Project (NELACEP) and the Niger Solar Electricity Access Project (NESAP). These projects have already facilitated access to electricity for over 290,000 persons out of a target of almost one million by end-2023. The NESAP project has also brought new dynamism to the solar equipment market, with the availability of a line of credit and technical assistance for private companies.

By providing technical assistance and budgetary support to the government of Niger, the World Bank has also contributed to the adoption of the National Strategy for Access to Electricity (SNAE), which aims to raise the rate of access to electricity to 80% by 2035. The Bank also supported the preparation of regulatory instruments that have helped make Niger's electricity sector one of the best economic performers in the subregion. The reforms being implemented have placed the country in a good position to exploit solar energy and attract private investment.

The World Bank has been providing support to the government of Niger for almost 10 years for the development of an effective social protection system. The aim is to support the poorest households by providing monthly cash transfers, in conjunction with other measures to strengthen human capital and promote productive activities. This program also helps households improve resilience and cope with unexpected shocks, such as those associated with climate change.

The Adaptive Safety Net Project 2 "Wadata Talaka" (PFSA 2), which effectively began on June 20, 2019, has benefited almost 3 million people as follows:

  • 30,000 households (around 210,000 persons) have benefited from monthly transfers of CFAF 15,000 over 24 months, as part of the program of cash transfers to enhance resilience.
  • 13,200 households (around 92,000 persons) have benefited from the establishment of "cash for work" activities.
  • Cash transfers in response to the socioeconomic impact of COVID-19: 400,000 urban and rural households (around 2,800,000 persons) received a one-time cash transfer of CFAF 45,000 per household, with a total value of $36 million.
  • 30,000 households participating in the cash transfer program benefited from the implementation of support and awareness-raising measures designed to encourage behavioral change to enhance their resilience and strengthen the human capital of their children.

The World Bank collaborates with various multilateral agencies and donors, such as the Agence Française de Développement, the African Development Bank, and the European Union, to coordinate its support for Niger's development.

In July 2017, Germany, the African Development Bank, the World Bank, France, the European Union, and the United Nations Development Programme launched the Sahel Alliance with the aim of providing a coordinated and tailored response to the challenges faced by the G5 Sahel member countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger). Since that time, Denmark, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom have joined the Alliance.

Regions of Niger Map

Niger has seven major administrative divisions called regions. They are Agadez, Diffa, Dosso, Maradi, Tahoua, Tillaberi, and Zinder. The country also has a capital district called Niamey which serves as the national capital.

The regions of Niger are further subdivided into Departments and communes. Several other smaller divisions make governance more convenient.

With an area of 667,799 sq. km, Agadez is the largest region of Niger by area while Zinder is the most populous one.


The country's name comes from the Niger River which flows through the west of the country the origin of the river's name is uncertain, though a popular theory is that it comes from the Tuareg n'eghirren, meaning 'flowing water'. [20] The most common pronunciation is the French one of / n iː ˈ ʒ ɛər / , though in Anglophone media / ˈ n aɪ dʒ ər / is also occasionally used.


Humans have inhabited the territory of modern Niger for millennia stone tools, some dating as far back as 280,000 BC, have been found in Adrar Bous, Bilma and Djado in the northern Agadez Region. [21] Some of these finds have been linked with the Aterian and Mousterian tool cultures of the Middle Paleolithic period, which flourished in northern Africa circa 90,000 BC-20,000 BC. [22] [21] It is thought that these early humans lived a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. [21] In prehistoric times the climate of the Sahara desert was much wetter and more fertile than it is today, a phenomenon archaeologists refer to as the 'Green Sahara', which provided favourable conditions for hunting and later agriculture and livestock herding. [23] [24]

The Neolithic era began circa 10,000 BC this period saw a number of important changes, such as the introduction of pottery (as evidenced at Tagalagal, Temet and Tin Ouffadene), the spread of cattle husbandry, and the burying of the dead in stone tumuli. [21] As the climate changed in the period 4000–2800 BC the Sahara gradually began drying out, forcing a change in settlement patterns to the south and east. [25] Agriculture became widespread, notably the planting of millet and sorghum, as well as pottery production. [21] Iron and copper items first appear in this era, with early find including those at Azawagh, Takedda, Marendet and the Termit Massif. [26] [27] [28] The Kiffian (circa 8000–6000 BC) and later Tenerian (circa 5000–2500 BC) cultures, centred on Adrar Bous and Gobero where numerous skeletons have been uncovered, flourished during this period. [29] [30] [31] [32] [33]

Towards the end of this period, up till the first centuries AD, societies continued to grow and become more complex, with regional differentiation in agricultural and funerary practices. A notable culture of this late period is the Bura culture (circa 200–1300 AD), named for the Bura archaeological site. where a burial replete with many iron and ceramic statuettes were discovered. [34] The Neolithic era also saw the flourishing of Saharan rock art, most notably in the Aïr Mountains, Termit Massif, Djado Plateau, Iwelene, Arakao, Tamakon, Tzerzait, Iferouane, Mammanet and Dabous the art spans the period from 10,000BC to 100AD and depicts a range of subjects, from the varied fauna of the landscape to depictions of spear-carrying figures dubbed 'Libyan warriors'. [35] [36] [37]

Empires and kingdoms in pre-colonial Niger

Our knowledge of early Nigerien history is limited by the lack of written sources, though it is known that by at least the 5th century BC the territory of modern Niger had become an area of trans-Saharan trade. Led by Tuareg tribes from the north, camels were as a well-adapted means of transportation through what was now an immense desert. [38] [39] This mobility, which would continue in waves for several centuries, was accompanied with further migration to the south and intermixing between sub-Saharan African and North African populations, as well as the gradual spread of Islam. [40] It was also aided by the Arab invasion of North Africa at the end of the 7th century, which resulted in population movements to the south. [25] Several empires and kingdoms flourished in the Sahel during this era. Their history does not fit easily within the modern boundaries of Niger, which were created during the period of European colonialism the following adopts a roughly chronological account of the main empires.

Mali Empire (1200s–1400s)

The Mali Empire was a Mandinka empire founded by Sundiata Keita (r. 1230–1255) in circa 1230 and existed up to 1600. As detailed in the Epic of Sundiata, Mali emerged as a breakaway region of the Sosso Empire, which itself had split from the earlier Ghana Empire. Thereafter Mali defeated the Sosso at the Battle of Kirina in 1235 and then Ghana in 1240. [41] [42] [43] From its heartland around the modern Guinea-Mali border region, the empire expanded considerably under successive kings and came to dominate the Trans-Saharan trade routes, reaching its greatest extent during the rule of Mansa Musa (r. 1312–1337). [42] At this point parts of what are now Niger's Tillabéri Region fell under Malian rule. [41] A Muslim, Mansa Musa performed the hajj in 1324–25 and encouraged the spread of Islam in the empire, though it appears that most ordinary citizens continued to maintain their traditional animist beliefs instead of or alongside the new religion. [41] [44] The empire began declining in the 15th century due to a combination of internecine strife over the royal succession, weak kings, the shift of European trade routes to the coast, and rebellions in the empire's periphery by Mossi, Wolof, Tuareg and Songhai peoples. [44] However a rump Mali kingdom continued to exist until late 1600s. [42]

Songhai Empire (1000s–1591)

The Songhai Empire was named for its main ethnic group, the Songhai or Sonrai, and was centred on the bend of the Niger River in modern Mali. Songhai began settling this region from the 7th to 9th centuries [45] by the early 11th century Gao (capital of the former Kingdom of Gao) had become the empire's capital. [45] [46] [47] From 1000 to 1325, the Songhai Empire prospered and managed to maintain peace with the Mali Empire, its powerful neighbour to the west. In 1325 Songhai was conquered by Mali until regaining its independence in 1375. [45] Under king Sonni Ali (r. 1464–1492) Songhai adopted an expansionist policy which reached its apogee during the reign of Askia Mohammad I (r. 1493–1528) at this point the empire had expanded considerably from its Niger-bend heartland, including to the east where much of modern western Niger fell under its rule, including Agadez, which was conquered in 1496. [21] [48] [49] However the empire was unable to withstand repeated attacks from the Saadi Dynasty of Morocco and was decisively defeated at the Battle of Tondibi in 1591 the empire then collapsed into a number of smaller kingdoms. [45] [47]

Sultanate of Aïr (1400s–1906)

In c. 1449 in the north of what is now Niger, the Sultanate of Aïr was founded by Sultan Ilisawan, based in Agadez. [21] Formerly a small trading post inhabited by a mixture of Hausa and Tuaregs, the sultanate grew rich due to its strategic position on the Trans-Saharan trade routes. In 1515 Aïr was conquered by Songhai, remaining a part of that empire until its collapse in 1591. [21] [40] The following centuries present a somewhat confused picture, though it seems that the sultanate entered a decline marked by internecine wars and clan conflicts. [40] When Europeans began exploring the region in the 19th century much of Agadez lay in ruins, and it was taken over, though with difficulty, by the French (see below). [21] [40]

Kanem-Bornu Empire (700s–1700s)

To the east, the Kanem-Bornu Empire dominated the region around Lake Chad for much of this period. [47] It was founded by the Zaghawa around the 8th century and based in Njimi, north-east of the lake. The kingdom gradually expanded, especially during the rule of the Sayfawa Dynasty which began in c. 1075 under Mai (king) Hummay. [50] [51] The kingdom reached its greatest extent in the 1200s, largely thanks to the effort of Mai Dunama Dibbalemi (r. 1210–1259), and grew rich from its control of many Trans-Saharan trade routes much of eastern and south-eastern Niger, notably Bilma and Kaouar, was under Kanem's control in this period. [52] Islam had been introduced to the kingdom by Arab traders from the 11th century, gradually gaining more converts over the following centuries. [50] Attacks by the Bulala people in the late 14th century forced Kanem to shift westwards of Lake Chad, where it became known as the Bornu Empire, ruled from its capital Ngazargamu on the modern Niger-Nigeria border. [53] [50] [54] Bornu prospered during the rule of Mai Idris Alooma (r. circa 1575–1610) and re-conquered much of the traditional lands of Kanem, hence the designation 'Kanem-Bornu' for the empire. By the late 17th century and into the 18th the Bornu kingdom had entered a long period of decline, gradually shrinking back to its Lake Chad heartland, though it remained an important player in the region. [47] [50]

Circa 1730–40 a group of Kanuri settlers led by Mallam Yunus left Kanem and founded the Sultanate of Damagaram, centred on the town of Zinder. [40] The sultanate remained nominally subject to the Borno Empire until the reign of Sultan Tanimoune Dan Souleymane in the mid-to-late 19th century, who declared independence and initiated a phase of vigorous expansion. [21] The sultanate managed to resist the advance of the Sokoto Caliphate (see below), but was later captured by the French in 1899. [21]

The Hausa states and other smaller kingdoms (1400s–1800s)

Between the Niger River and Lake Chad lay various Hausa Kingdoms kingdoms, encompassing the cultural-linguistic area known as Hausaland which straddles the modern Niger-Nigeria border. [55] The origins of the Hausa are obscure, though they are thought to be a mixture of autochthonous peoples and migrant peoples from the north and/or east, emerging as a distinct people sometime in the 900s–1400s when the kingdoms were founded. [55] [21] [56] They gradually adopted Islam from the 14th century, though often this existed alongside traditional religions, developing into unique syncretic forms some Hausa groups, such as the Azna, resisted Islam altogether (the area of Dogondoutchi remains an animist stronghold to this day). [21] [47] The Hausa kingdoms were not a compact entity but several federations of kingdoms more or less independent of one other. Their organisation was hierarchical though also somewhat democratic: the Hausa kings were elected by the notables of the country and could be removed by them. [46] The Hausa Kingdoms began as seven states founded, according to the Bayajidda legend, by the six sons of Bawo. [55] [47] Bawo was the only son of the Hausa queen Daurama and Bayajidda or (Abu Yazid according to certain Nigerien historians) who came from Baghdad. The seven original Hausa states (often referred to as the 'Hausa bakwai') were: Daura (state of queen Daurama), Kano, Rano, Zaria, Gobir, Katsina and Biram. [46] [21] [56] An extension of the legend states that Bawo had a further seven sons with a concubine, who went on to the found the so-called 'Banza (illegitimate) Bakwai': Zamfara, Kebbi, Nupe, Gwari, Yauri, Ilorin and Kwararafa. [56] A smaller state not fitting into this scheme was Konni, centred on Birni-N'Konni. [40]

The Fulani (also called Peul, Fulbe etc.), a pastoral people found throughout the Sahel, began migrating to Hausaland during the 1200s–1500s. [47] [55] During the later 18th century many Fulani were unhappy with the syncretic form of Islam practised there exploiting also the populace's disdain with corruption amongst the Hausa elite, the Fulani scholar Usman Dan Fodio (from Gobir) declared a jihad in 1804. [40] [21] [57] After conquering most of Hausaland (though not the Bornu Kingdom, which remained independent) he proclaimed the Sokoto Caliphate in 1809. [55] Some of the Hausa states survived by fleeing south, such as the Katsina who moved to Maradi in the south of modern Niger. [47] Many of these surviving states harassed the Caliphate and a long period of small-scale wars and skirmishes commenced, with some states (such as Katsina and Gobir) maintaining independence, whereas elsewhere new ones were formed (such as the Sultanate of Tessaoua). The Caliphate managed to survive until, fatally weakened by the invasions of Chad-based warlord Rabih az-Zubayr, it finally fell to the British in 1903, with its lands later being partitioned between Britain and France. [58]

Other smaller kingdoms of the period include the Dosso Kingdom, a Zarma polity founded in 1750 which resisted the rule of Hausa and Sokoto states. [40]

French Niger (1900–58)

In the 19th century Europeans began to take a greater interest in Africa several European explorers travelled in the area of modern Niger, such as Mungo Park (in 1805–06), the Oudney-Denham-Clapperton expedition (1822–25), Heinrich Barth (1850–55 with James Richardson and Adolf Overweg), Friedrich Gerhard Rohlfs (1865–67), Gustav Nachtigal (1869–74) and Parfait-Louis Monteil (1890–92). [21]

Several European countries already possessed littoral colonies in Africa, and in the latter half of the century they began to turn their eyes towards the interior of the continent. This process, known as the 'Scramble for Africa', culminated in the 1885 Berlin conference in which the colonial powers outlined the division of Africa into spheres of influence. As a result of this, France gained control of the upper valley of the Niger River (roughly equivalent to the areas of modern Mali and Niger). [59] France then set about making a reality of their rule on the ground. In 1897 the French officer Marius Gabriel Cazemajou was sent to Niger he reached the Sultanate of Damagaram in 1898 and stayed in Zinder at the court of Sultan Amadou Kouran Daga—however he was later killed as Daga feared he would ally with the Chad-based warlord Rabih az-Zubayr. [40] In 1899–1900 France coordinated three expeditions—the Gentil Mission from French Congo, the Foureau-Lamy Mission from Algeria and the Voulet–Chanoine Mission from Timbuktu—with the aim of linking France's African possessions. [59] The three eventually met at Kousséri (in the far north of Cameroon) and defeated Rabih az-Zubayr's forces at the Battle of Kousséri. The Voulet-Chanoine Mission was marred by numerous atrocities, and became notorious for pillaging, looting, raping and killing many local civilians on its passage throughout southern Niger. [40] [21] On 8 May 1899, in retaliation for the resistance of queen Sarraounia, captain Voulet and his men murdered all the inhabitants of the village of Birni-N'Konni in what is regarded as one of the worst massacres in French colonial history. [40] The brutal methods of Voulet and Chanoine caused a scandal and Paris was forced to intervene however when Lieutenant-Colonel Jean-François Klobb caught up with the mission near Tessaoua to relieve them of command he was killed. Lt. Paul Joalland, Klobb's former officer, and Lt. Octave Meynier eventually took over the mission following a mutiny in which Voulet and Chanoine were killed. [21]

The Military Territory of Niger was subsequently created within the Upper Senegal and Niger colony (modern Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger) in December 1904 with its capital at Niamey, then little more than a large village. [21] The border with Britain's colony of Nigeria to the south was finalised in 1910, a rough delimitation having already been agreed by the two powers via several treaties during the period 1898–1906. [59] The capital of the territory was moved to Zinder in 1912 when the Niger Military Territory was split off from Upper Senegal and Niger, before being moved back to Niamey in 1922 when Niger became a fully-fledged colony within French West Africa. [21] [40] The borders of Niger were drawn up in various stages and had been fixed at their current position by the late 1930s. Various territorial adjustments took place in this period: the areas west of the Niger river were only attached to Niger in 1926–27, and during the dissolution of Upper Volta (modern Burkina Faso) in 1932–47 much of the east of that territory was added to Niger [60] [40] and in the east the Tibesti Mountains were transferred to Chad in 1931. [61]

The French generally adopted a form of indirect rule, allowing existing native structures to continue to exist within the colonial framework of governance providing that they acknowledged French supremacy. [21] The Zarma of the Dosso Kingdom in particular proved amenable to French rule, using them as allies against the encroachments of Hausa and other nearby states over time the Zarma thus became one of the more educated and westernised groups in Niger. [40] However, perceived threats to French rule, such as the Kobkitanda rebellion in Dosso Region (1905–06), led by the blind cleric Alfa Saibou, and the Karma revolt in the Niger valley (December 1905–March 1906) led by Oumarou Karma were suppressed with force, as were the latter Hamallayya and Hauka religious movements. [21] [40] [62] Though largely successful in subduing the sedentary populations of the south, the French faced considerably more difficulty with the Tuareg in the north (centered on the Sultanate of Aïr in Agadez), and France was unable to occupy Agadez until 1906. [21] Tuareg resistance continued however, culminating in the Kaocen revolt of 1916–17, led by Ag Mohammed Wau Teguidda Kaocen, with backing from the Senussi in Fezzan the revolt was violently suppressed and Kaocen fled to Fezzan, where he was later killed. [40] A puppet sultan was set up by the French and the decline and marginalisation of the north of the colony continued, exacerbated by a series of droughts. [40] Though it remained something of a backwater, some limited economic development took place in Niger during the colonial years, such as the introduction of groundnut cultivation. [21] Various measures to improve food security following a series of devastating famines in 1913, 1920 and 1931 were also introduced. [21] [40]

During the Second World War, during which time mainland France was occupied by Nazi Germany, Charles de Gaulle issued the Brazzaville Declaration, declaring that the French colonial empire would be replaced post-war with a less centralised French Union. [63] The French Union, which lasted from 1946 to 1958, conferred a limited form of French citizenship on the inhabitants of the colonies, with some decentralisation of power and limited participation in political life for local advisory assemblies. It was during this period that the Nigerien Progressive Party (Parti Progressiste Nigérien, or PPN, originally a branch of the African Democratic Rally, or Rassemblement Démocratique Africain – RDA) was formed under the leadership of former teacher Hamani Diori, as well as the left-wing Mouvement Socialiste Africain-Sawaba (MSA) led by Djibo Bakary. Following the Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre) of 23 July 1956 and the establishment of the Fifth French Republic on 4 December 1958, Niger became an autonomous state within the French Community. On 18 December 1958, an autonomous Republic of Niger was officially created under the leadership of Hamani Diori. The MSA was banned in 1959 for its perceived excessive anti-French stance. [64] On 11 July 1960, Niger decided to leave the French Community and acquired full independence on 3 August 1960 Diori thus became the first president of the country.

Independent Niger (1960–present)

Diori years (1960–74)

For its first 14 years as an independent state Niger was run by a single-party civilian regime under the presidency of Hamani Diori. [65] The 1960s were largely peaceful, and saw a large expansion of the education system and some limited economic development and industrialisation. [40] Links with France remained deep, with Diori allowing the development of French-led uranium mining in Arlit and supporting France in the Algerian War. [40] Relations with other African states were mostly positive, with the exception of Dahomey (Benin), owing to an ongoing border dispute. Niger remained a one-party state throughout this period, with Diori surviving a planned coup in 1963 and an assassination attempt in 1965 much of this activity was masterminded by Djibo Bakary's MSA-Sawaba group, which had launched an abortive rebellion in 1964. [40] [66] In the early 1970s, a combination of economic difficulties, devastating droughts and accusations of rampant corruption and mismanagement of food supplies resulted in a coup d'état that overthrew the Diori regime.

First military regime (1974–1991)

The coup had been masterminded by Col. Seyni Kountché and a small military group under the name of the Conseil Militaire Supreme, with Kountché going on to rule the country until his death in 1987. [40] The first action of the military government was to address the food crisis. [67] Whilst political prisoners of the Diori regime were released after the coup and the country was stabilised, political and individual freedoms in general deteriorated during this period. There were several attempted coups (in 1975, 1976 and 1984) which were thwarted, their instigators being severely punished. [40]

Despite the restriction in freedom, the country enjoyed improved economic development as Kountché sought to create a 'development society', funded largely by the uranium mines in Agadez Region. [40] Several parastatal companies were created, major infrastructure (building and new roads, schools, health centres) constructed, and there was minimal corruption in government agencies, which Kountché did not hesitate to punish severely. [68] In the 1980s Kountché began cautiously loosening the grip of the military, with some relaxation of state censorship and attempts made to 'civilianise' the regime. [40] However the economic boom ended following the collapse in uranium prices, and IMF-led austerity and privatisation measures provoked opposition by many Nigeriens. [40] In 1985 a small Tuareg revolt in Tchintabaraden was suppressed. [40] Kountché died in November 1987 from a brain tumour, and was succeeded by his chief of staff, Col. Ali Saibou, who was confirmed as Chief of the Supreme Military Council four days later. [40]

Saibou significantly curtailed the most repressive aspects of the Kountché era (such as the secret police and media censorship), and set about introducing a process of political reform under the overall direction of a single party (the Mouvement National pour la Société du Développement, or MNSD). [40] A Second Republic was declared and a new constitution was drawn up, which was adopted following a referendum in 1989. [40] General Saibou became the first president of the Second Republic after winning the presidential election on 10 December 1989. [69]

President Saibou's efforts to control political reforms failed in the face of trade union and student demands to institute a multi-party democratic system. On 9 February 1990, a violently repressed student march in Niamey led to the death of three students, which led to increased national and international pressure for further democratic reform. [40] The Saibou regime acquiesced to these demands by the end of 1990. [40] Meanwhile, trouble re-emerged in Agadez Region when a group of armed Tuaregs attacked the town of Tchintabaraden (generally seen as the start of the first Tuareg Rebellion), prompting a severe military crackdown which led to many deaths (the precise numbers are disputed, with estimates ranging from 70 to up to 1,000). [40]

National Conference and Third Republic (1991–1996)

The National Sovereign Conference of 1991 marked a turning point in the post-independence history of Niger and brought about multi-party democracy. From 29 July to 3 November, a national conference gathered together all elements of society to make recommendations for the future direction of the country. The conference was presided over by Prof. André Salifou and developed a plan for a transitional government this was then installed in November 1991 to manage the affairs of state until the institutions of the Third Republic were put into place in April 1993. After the National Sovereign Conference, the transitional government drafted a new constitution that eliminated the previous single-party system of the 1989 Constitution and guaranteed more freedoms. The new constitution was adopted by a referendum on 26 December 1992. [70] Following this, presidential elections were held and Mahamane Ousmane became the first president of the Third Republic on 27 March 1993. [40] [69] Ousmane's presidency was characterised by political turbulence, with four government changes and early legislative elections in 1995, as well a severe economic slump which the coalition government proved unable to effectively address. [40]

The violence in Agadez Region continued during this period, prompting the Nigerien government to sign a truce with Tuareg rebels in 1992 which was however ineffective owing to internal dissension within the Tuareg ranks. [40] Another rebellion, led by dissatisfied Toubou peoples claiming that, like the Tuareg, the Nigerien government had neglected their region, broke out in the east of the country. [40] In April 1995 a peace deal with the main Tuareg rebel group was signed, with the government agreeing to absorb some former rebels into the military and, with French assistance, help others return to a productive civilian life. [71]

Second military regime and third military regime (1996–1999)

The governmental paralysis prompted the military to intervene on 27 January 1996, Col. Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara led a coup that deposed President Ousmane and ended the Third Republic. [72] [73] Maïnassara headed a Conseil de Salut National (National Salvation Council) composed of military official which carried out a six-month transition period, during which a new constitution was drafted and adopted on 12 May 1996. [40]

Presidential campaigns were organised in the months that followed. Maïnassara entered the campaign as an independent candidate and won the election on 8 July 1996, however the elections were viewed nationally and internationally as irregular, as the electoral commission was replaced during the campaign. [40] Meanwhile, Maïnassara instigated an IMF and World Bank-approved privatisation programme which enriched many of his supporters but were opposed by the trade unions. [40] Following fraudulent local elections in 1999 the opposition ceased any cooperation with the Maïnassara regime. [40] In unclear circumstance (possibly attempting to flee the country), Maïnassara was assassinated at Niamey Airport on 9 April 1999. [74] [75]

Maj. Daouda Malam Wanké then took over, establishing a transitional National Reconciliation Council to oversee the drafting of a constitution with a French-style semi-presidential system. This was adopted on 9 August 1999 and was followed by presidential and legislative elections in October and November of the same year. [76] The elections were generally found to be free and fair by international observers. Wanké then withdrew from governmental affairs. [40]

Fifth Republic (1999–2009)

After winning the election in November 1999, President Tandja Mamadou was sworn in office on 22 December 1999 as the first president of the Fifth Republic. Mamadou brought about many administrative and economic reforms that had been halted due to the military coups since the Third Republic, as well as helped peacefully resolve a decades-long boundary dispute with Benin. [77] [78] In August 2002, serious unrest within military camps occurred in Niamey, Diffa, and Nguigmi, but the government was able to restore order within several days. On 24 July 2004, the first municipal elections in the history of Niger were held to elect local representatives, previously appointed by the government. These elections were followed by presidential elections, in which Mamadou was re-elected for a second term, thus becoming the first president of the republic to win consecutive elections without being deposed by military coups. [40] [79] The legislative and executive configuration remained quite similar to that of the first term of the president: Hama Amadou was reappointed as prime minister and Mahamane Ousmane, the head of the CDS party, was re-elected as the president of the National Assembly (parliament) by his peers.

By 2007, the relationship between President Tandja Mamadou and his prime minister had deteriorated, leading to the replacement of the latter in June 2007 by Seyni Oumarou following a successful vote of no confidence at the Assembly. [40] The political environment worsened in the following year as President Tandja Mamadou sought out to extend his presidency by modifying the constitution which limited presidential terms in Niger. Proponents of the extended presidency, rallied behind the 'Tazartche' (Hausa for 'overstay') movement, were countered by opponents ('anti-Tazartche') composed of opposition party militants and civil society activists. [40]

The situation in the north also deteriorated significantly in this period, resulting in the outbreak of a Second Tuareg Rebellion in 2007 led by the Mouvement des Nigériens pour la justice (MNJ). Despite a number of high-profile kidnappings the rebellion had largely fizzled out inconclusively by 2009. [40] However the poor security situation in the region is thought to have allowed elements of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to gain a foothold in the country. [40]

Fourth military regime (2009–2010)

In 2009, President Tandja Mamadou decided to organize a constitutional referendum seeking to extend his presidency, which was opposed by other political parties, as well as being against the decision of the Constitutional Court which had ruled that the referendum would be unconstitutional. Mamadou then modified and adopted a new constitution by referendum, which was declared illegal by the Constitutional Court, prompting Mamadou to dissolve the Court and assume emergency powers. [80] [81] The opposition boycotted the referendum and the new constitution was adopted with 92.5% of voters and a 68% turnout, according to official results. The adoption of the new constitution created a Sixth Republic, with a presidential system, as well as the suspension of the 1999 Constitution and a three-year interim government with Tandja Mamadou as president. The events generated severe political and social unrest throughout the country. [40]

In a coup d'état in February 2010, a military junta led by captain Salou Djibo was established in response to Tandja's attempted extension of his political term by modifying the constitution. [82] The Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy, led by General Salou Djibo, carried out a one-year transition plan, drafted a new constitution and held elections in 2011 that were judged internationally as free and fair.

Seventh Republic (2010–present)

Following the adoption of a new constitution in 2010 and presidential elections a year later, Mahamadou Issoufou was elected as the first president of the Seventh Republic he was then re-elected in 2016. [83] [40] The constitution also restored the semi-presidential system which had been abolished a year earlier. An attempted coup against him in 2011 was thwarted and its ringleaders arrested. [84] Issoufou's time in office has been marked by numerous threats to the country's security, stemming from the fallout from the Libyan Civil War and Northern Mali conflict, a rise in attacks by AQIM, the use of Niger as a transit country for migrants (often organised by criminal gangs), and the spillover of Nigeria's Boko Haram insurgency into south-eastern Niger. [85] French and American forces are currently assisting Niger in countering these threats. [86]

On 27 December 2020, Nigeriens went to the polls after Issoufou announced he would step down, paving the way to Niger's first ever peaceful transition of power. [87] However, no candidate won an absolute majority in the vote: Mohamed Bazoum came closest with 39.33%. As per the constitution, a run-off election was held on 20 February 2021, with Bazoum taking 55.75% of the vote and opposition candidate (and former president) Mahamane Ousmane taking 44.25%, according to the electoral commission. [88]

On 31 March 2021, Niger's security forces thwarted an attempted coup by a military unit in the capital, Niamey. Heavy gunfire was heard in the early hours near the country's presidential palace. The attack took place just two days before newly elected president, Mohamed Bazoum, was due to be sworn into office. The Presidential Guard arrested several people during the incident. [89]

10 Fun And Interesting Facts About Nigeria

Nigeria is a country in West Africa having boundaries with Niger and the Chad Republic in the north, Cameroon on the eastern part, the Benin Republic on the western border and the Atlantic ocean at the southern end. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with more than 170 million people living there. What this means is that one in every 7 Africans is a Nigerian. Geographically, Nigerian terrain changes from the high savanna-covered plateaus in the north to the oil-rich Niger Delta in the southern part down to the rainforest belt region towards the coast. Despite the insecurity and some slight political instabilities facing the country, there are some interesting facts about Nigeria that are worth noting. AnswersAfrica brings you the most interesting and fun Nigeria facts.

10. Most Populous Country in Africa

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the 8th most populous in the world with a population of more than 160 million people. The next African country to come close is Ethiopia with a population count of 84 million. That is just about half of the Nigerian population.

9. More Than 250 Ethnic Groups

Nigeria has more than 250 ethnic groups, however, there are 3 dominant tribes: the Ibo (Igbo), Hausa- Fulani, and Yoruba which make up 18%, 29%, and 21% respectively.

8. Christianity and Islam Are The 2 Major Religions

The major religions in Nigeria are Christianity and Islam. About half of the Yorubas are Christians and half Muslim, though many maintain traditional beliefs. The Igbos in the southeast are mostly Christian The Hausa/Fulani in northern Nigeria are mostly Islamic and dominated by the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group. Southern Nigeria is more westernized and urbanized than the north, with the Yoruba in the southwest and the Igbo in the southeast.

7. Niger River: West Africa’s Largest River.

The longest and largest river in West Africa is the river Niger from where Nigeria derives her name. River Niger spans about 4,180 km (2,600 mi) from its source is in the Highlands of Guinea in southeastern Guinea. It courses in a crescent through Mali, Niger, on the border with Benin and then through Nigeria, and eventually emptying into the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean after passing through a massive delta, known as the Niger Delta or the Oil Rivers.

6. One of the Oldest Locations of Human Existence

Evidence from archaeological discoveries has shown that there was a history of human existence in Nigeria which has been dated to as far back as 9000 BC. The Nok civilization (around 500 BC-200 AD) is the earliest known civilization here.

5. Home Of Nollywood

Nollywood is the name given to the Nigerian movie industry and it has recently been ranked the second largest producers of movies in the world just trailing behind Bollywood the Indian film industry and ahead of America’s Hollywood. Nollywood produces up to 200 movies every single week and her movies have won half of the yearly awards for best picture since 2005.

4. Largest Diversity of Butterfly

Nigeria boasts in being the most suitable habitat for the worlds largest diversity of the most colorful creatures – the butterflies. It is widely believed that the areas surrounding Calabar, Cross River State in the southern part of the country harbors the world’s largest diversity of butterflies.

3. Ogun State Has The Highest Number of Universities in Nigeria

Ogun State is one of the states in the western part of the country and it has a total of nine registered universities, making it the state with the highest number of Universities in Nigeria

2. The Longest Bridge in Africa

The Third Mainland Bridge (in Lagos State) connecting Lagos Island to the mainland is the longest bridge in Africa—it measures about 11.8km. The bridge starts from Oworonshoki which is linked to the Apapa-Oshodi expressway and Lagos-Ibadan expressway and ends at the Adeniji Adele Interchange on Lagos Island. There is also a link midway through the bridge that leads to the Herbert Macaulay Way, Yaba. The bridge was built by Julius Berger Nigeria PLC and opened by President Ibrahim Babangida in 1990

1. Largest Producers of Crude Oil

Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of crude oil in the world (averaging 2,525,000 barrels per day) and the 8th largest exporter. Nigeria has the 10th largest proven reserves of petroleum worldwide. Petroleum plays an important role in the country’s economy and contributes to more than 85% of the total government’s revenue.

Interesting facts about Niger

Niger is a landlocked country in Western Africa.

The official name of the country is the Republic of the Niger.

It is bordered by Libya to the northeast, Chad to the east, Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, and Algeria to the northwest.

The official language is French.

As of 1 January 2017, the population of Niger was estimated to be 21,092,468 people.

It is the 21st largest country in the world in terms of land area with 1,267,000 square kilometers (489,000 square miles).

Niamey is the capital and largest city of Niger. Niamey lies on the Niger River, primarily situated on the east bank. It is an administrative, cultural and economic centre.

Niger located along the border between the Sahara and Sub-Saharan regions.

The terrain there is predominantly desert plains and sand dunes. There are also large plains in the south and hills in the north.

Mont Idoukal-n-Taghès also known as Mont Bagzane and Mont Bagzan is the highest mountain in Niger rising to a height of 2,022 meters (6,634 feet) above sea level.

The network of protected areas in Niger covers about 17% of the national territory. It is made up of 1 national park, 2 national nature reserve, 1 nature reserve, plus other types of protected areas.

The W National Park is a major national park in West Africa around a meander in the River Niger shaped like a “W”. The park includes areas of the three countries Niger, Benin and Burkina Faso, and is governed by the three governments. The park is known for its large mammals, including aardvarks, baboons, buffalo, caracal, cheetahs, elephants, hippopotami, African leopards, West African lions, serval and warthogs. The W National Park of Niger was created by decree on 4 August 1954, and since 1996 has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Aïr and Ténéré National Nature Reserve is a national nature reserve in Niger. It includes several overlapping reserve designations, and covers both the eastern half of the Aïr Mountains and the western sections of the Ténéré desert. The reserves boast an outstanding variety of landscapes, plant species and wild animals. The Aïr and Ténéré UNESCO World Heritage Site was established in 1991, and marked as endangered 1992. The entire reserver covers 77,360 square kilometers (29,870 square miles), which made it the second largest nature reserve in Africa, and the fourth largest in the world.

Niger has 3 UNESCO world heritage sites.

Known as the gateway to the desert, Agadez, on the southern edge of the Sahara desert, developed in the 15th and 16th centuries when the Sultanate of Aïr was established and Touareg tribes were sedentarized in the city, respecting the boundaries of old encampments, which gave rise to a street pattern still in place today. The historic centre of the city, an important crossroads of the caravan trade, is divided into 11 quarters with irregular shapes. They contain numerous earthen dwellings and a well-preserved group of palatial and religious buildings including a 27 meters (88.5 feet) high minaret made entirely of mud brick, the highest such structure in the world. Historic Centre of Agadez was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

The Grand Mosque of Niamey is an Islamic mosque located in Niamey. It was built in the 1970s. The largest mosque in the city, it is located along Islam Avenue. Funded with money from Libya, the mosque features a minaret with 171 steps from top to bottom.

The Dabous Giraffes are a neolithic petroglyph by an unknown artist. Completed between 9000 BC and 5000 BC, the giraffe carvings were first documented by David Coulson in 1997 while on a photographic expedition at a site in Niger. The carving is (6 meters) 20 feet in height and consists of two giraffes carved into the Dabous Rock with a great amount of detail. The Bradshaw Foundation is an organization dedicated to the protection and preservation of this petroglyph.

Humans have lived in what is now Niger from the earliest times.

Through extensive archaeological research, much evidence has been uncovered indicating that man has been present in northern Niger for over 600,000 years.

By at least the 5th century B.C., Niger became an area of trans-Saharan trade, led by the Berber tribes from the north, using camels as an adapted means of transportation through the desert.

One of the great empires of Africa called the Songhai expanded into modern day Niger until its collapse in 1591.

In the 19th century, contact with Europe began when the first European explorers explored the area searching for the mouth of the Niger River.

Although French efforts at pacification began before 1900, dissident ethnic groups, especially the desert Tuareg, were not subdued until 1922, when Niger became a French colony.

On 11 July 1960, agreements on national sovereignty were signed by Niger and France, and on 3 August 1960, the Republic of the Niger proclaimed its independence.

The country is named after the Niger River.

The economy of Niger is based largely upon internal markets, subsistence agriculture, and the export of raw commodities: foodstuffs to neighbors and raw minerals to world markets.

Niger has some of the world’s largest uranium deposits.

Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and is rated by the UN as one of the world’s least-developed nations.

Niger has a wide variety of ethnic groups as in most West African countries. The ethnic makeup of Niger is as follows: Hausa (53.0%), Zarma-Sonrai (21.2%), Tuareg (10.4%), Fula (French: Peuls or Peulhs Fula: Fulɓe) (9.9%), Kanuri Manga (4.4%), Tubu (0.4%), Arab (0.3%), Gourmantche (0.3%), other (0.2%).

Islam is the most dominant religion, practiced by 80% of the population. The second most practiced religion is Christianity this by less than 20% of the population.

The cuisine of Niger takes after many traditional African cuisines, and a significant amount of spices are used in dishes. Grilled meat, seasonal vegetables, salads and various sauces are some of the foods consumed.

Horse racing, camel racing and sorro wrestling are some of the traditional sports in Niger that were firmly entrenched in their culture. Sorro Wrestling is known as the “King of Sports” in the country.

Food in Nigeria | Nigeria Facts

Corn, rice, cocoa, yams, palm oil and peanuts (groundnuts) are the main agricultural products in Nigeria. Nigerian main dishes usually contain corn, rice, yams, plantains, beans, peppers and tomatoes as well as beef, sheep and fish.

Accordi ng to OghenekevweOnu: "If you want to take your taste buds on a spectacular journey, then you have to try out Nigerian foods. These includes the Nigerian Jollof rice, Suya, Akara, Pounded Yam and Garri. We have soups like Egusi, Ewedu or Afangਊnd a host of others. "

Jollof Rice
  • Jollof rice: the tomato-coloured one-pot rice dish is popular throughout Western Africa and in Nigeria usually is served with fried plantains, and moi-moi.
  • Suya: grilled meat skewers with spicy coating often made with beef and chicken - this is a popular street food
  • Garri: cassava flour
  • Ewedu and Afang: spinach-like green leaves used in Nigerian soups

Nigeria Facts: Some other typical Nigerian dishes are:

  • Moi moi: savoury steamed pudding with black-eyed peas, onions and peppers 
  • Dodofried plantains, a popular side dish which accompanies many main dishes.

Dodo - Chicken with Plantains
  • Maafe: groundnut stew with tomatoes and meat. The name means actually 'peanut butter sauce').
  • Ofada rice: brown rice dish or stew made with tomatoes and beef. It is commonly served on a leaf to give it a distinctive taste.


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Decalo, Samuel. Historical Dictionary of Niger , 3rd ed., 1997.

Fuglestad, Finn. A History of Niger 1850–1960 , 1983.

Human Rights Watch. Niger: Human Rights Report , 1993.

Masquelier, Adeline. "Narratives of Power, Images of Wealth: The Ritual Economy of Bori in the Market." In Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff, eds., Modernity and Its Malcontents , 1993.

Rasmussen, Susan. Spirit Possession and Personhood among the Kel Ewey Tuareg , 1995.

——. The Poetics and Politics of Tuareg Aging: Life Course and Personal Destiny in Niger , 1997.

Schmoll, Pamela. "Black Stomachs, Beautiful Stones: Soul-Eating among Haussa in Niger." In Jean Comaroff and John Comaroff, eds., Modernity and Its Malcontents , 1993.

Stoller, Paul. Fusion of the Worlds: An Ethnography of Possession among the Songhay of Niger , 1989.

——. Embodying Cultural Memories: Spirit Possession, Power, and the Hauka in West Africa , 1995.

——, and Cheryl Olkes. In Sorcery's Shadow , 1987.

U. S. Department of State, Bureau of African Affairs. Niger: Background Notes , 1994.

Weaver, Marcia, Holly Wong, Amadou Sekou Sako, Robert Simon, and Felix Lee. "Patient Fees in the Niamey Hospital." Social Science and Medicine 38: 563–574, 1994.

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