Niger, a landlocked country, is located in Western Africa. It is interesting to know that the country is named after the Niger River. It shares its borders with Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Algeria, Libya and Chad.
Niger has been inhabited by humans since at least 10000 BC, and has been part of many major West African empires throughout its history. Though today, Niger is situated within the Sahara Desert, its early terrain featured fertile grasslands and a variety of wildlife, and became the arid desert it is today beginning around 5200 BC. Because of its central location in Africa, parts of Niger became part of the Songhai Empire in the 15th century, as well as the kingdoms of Mali, Dendi, Gao, and Kanem-Bornu, and the Bornu Empire was one of Niger’s most recent and long-lasting governments.
European explorers began to arrive in the 19th century, with expeditions by the British and Germans. The French began to colonize the region, making Niger a colony in 1922, as part of the French West African territories. The French colonists reorganized the colonies, gradually increasing their rights and abilities to self-govern. Niger held its first elections, and in 1958, it was declared an autonomous republic within the French Community.
France allowed Niger independence in 1960, with Hamani Diori as its president for its first 14 years. Diori was overthrown in a coup in 1974, and in 1989 the country was restored to one-party civilian government led by Ali Seybou. Civil rebellions broke out in 1990, and a multi-party government was formed in 1992. Unrest continued and led to another coup and a new government and president in 1999. The Taureg rebels staged an uprising in 2007 lasting until 2009, but the government faced yet another brief coup in 2010, returning to civilian rule in 2011.
Neighboring Countries of Niger
Niger shares borders with Algeria, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali.
Major Cities of Niger
- Niamey (capital)
Niger is a landlocked country in Africa, located in the Sahara Desert and sub-Saharan region. As such, Niger has a hot, arid climate with many deserts and some semi-desert, dunes, and plains. Hilly savannas stretch across southern Niger.
Though the country is very dry, the Niger River flows through it, and part of Lake Chad is located within Niger, though it is shared with Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon.
The mountains in Niger are the Air Mountain range, which are situated within the deserts. The highest point in Niger is located within the mountains, at Mont Idoukal-n-Taghes, which stands 2,022 meters (6,634 feet) above sea level.
Points of Interest
One of Niger’s greatest attractions is its nature and wildlife, which can be experienced at several destinations. One of these is W National Park, located near Niamey in the southwest. The park is actually shared with Benin and Burkina Faso. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, W National Park is home to hippos, baboons, elephants, buffalo, and predators like cheetahs, leopards, and lions, which can be viewed on safaris throughout the park. Another place to view wildlife is at Termit and Tin Toumma National Park and Cultural Reserve, which is an extremely large park and home to gazelles and cheetahs. A herd of giraffes can be found in Koure, and this is one of the last wild herds on the continent.
The cities of Niger have plenty to offer as well. The capital, Niamey, has museums, a mosque and cathedral, and the Grande Marche, the country’s biggest marketplace. The city also has cultural centers that offer live music and dancing. Outside the capital, the Balleyara Market is another significant market with animals and local goods, while the city of Zinder also offers handicrafts, particularly pottery.
Niger has two main international airports, one in the capital, Niamey, called Diori Hamani International and the other in Agadez. The Niamey airport offers flights across Europe and Africa, while Agadez has limited service. There are roads into and within Niger, allowing travel by car from Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, and Niger. However, entering Niger by way of Nigeria is currently considered dangerous and is not recommended.
The roads within Niger are often unpaved, though some major routes are paved and many are being improved. Though Niger does not have railroads, it does have a bus system for long-distance travel that transports people between the main destinations of Niger. Buses are the best option, as they are the safest and most comfortable. Within Niamey, taxis can be found for transport around the city and from the airport.