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Niger

Background

Niger

Niger became independent from France in 1960 and experienced single-party and military rule until 1991, when Gen. Ali SAIBOU was forced by public pressure to allow multiparty elections, which resulted in a democratic government in 1993. Political infighting brought the government to a standstill and in 1996 led to a coup by Col. Ibrahim BARE. In 1999, BARE was killed in a counter coup by military officers who restored democratic rule and held elections that brought Mamadou TANDJA to power in December of that year. TANDJA was reelected in 2004 and in 2009 spearheaded a constitutional amendment that would allow him to extend his term as president. In February 2010, a military coup deposed TANDJA, immediately suspended the constitution and dissolved the Cabinet, and promised that elections would be held following a transitional period of unspecified duration. Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world with minimal government services and insufficient funds to develop its resource base. The largely agrarian and subsistence-based economy is frequently disrupted by extended droughts common to the Sahel region of Africa. A predominately Tuareg ethnic group emerged in February 2007, the Nigerien Movement for Justice (MNJ), and attacked several military targets in Niger's northern region throughout 2007 and 2008. Successful government offensives in 2009 limited the rebels' operational capabilities.

About

WARNING: Areas near the Mali border are essentially lawless, and travel near the border is STRONGLY discouraged. Several western tourists have been kidnapped in recent years and at least two (a Frenchman & Briton) have been executed by al Qaeda after being kidnapped near the Mali-Niger border. Agadez is the center of the ongoing Tuareg rebellion (as of June 2009) and travel to the city and surrounding region is dangerous and discouraged.

Much of Niger is experiencing a severe food shortage that may get worse before September harvests and then continue into 2011.

Niger (pronounced: nee-ZHAIR) is an arid, landlocked country of the Sahel with a population of 12 million. It is bordered by Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Chad and Libya. Niger is a former French colony which was granted independence in 1960. The land is mostly desert plains and dunes, with rolling savanna in the southeast.

Read more about Niger in our Niger travel guide »

A travel warning has been issued for Niger

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Niger

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Niger

Full name
Republic of Niger
Capital
Niamey
Location

Western Africa, southeast of Algeria

Geographic coordinates

16 00 N, 8 00 E

Area comparative

slightly less than twice the size of Texas

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)

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

Lowest point

Niger River 200 m

Highest point

Idoukal-n-Taghes 2,022 m

Natural resources

uranium, coal, iron ore, tin, phosphates, gold, molybdenum, gypsum, salt, petroleum

Population

15,878,271 (July 2010 est.)

Ethnic groups

Haoussa 55.4%, Djerma Sonrai 21%, Tuareg 9.3%, Peuhl 8.5%, Kanouri Manga 4.7%, other 1.2% (2001 census)

Religions

Muslim 80%, other (includes indigenous beliefs and Christian) 20%

Languages

French (official), Hausa, Djerma

Government type

republic

Independence

3 August 1960 (from France)

National holiday

Republic Day, 18 December (1958); note - commemorates the founding of the Republic of Niger which predated independence from France in 1960

Chief of state

Djibo SALOU, chairman of the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy, and a leader of the military coup that deposed President Mamadou TANDJA on 18 February 2010

Head of government

Prime Minister Mahamadou DANDA (since 19 February 2010); appointed by the president and shares some executive responsibilities with the president

Internet country code

.ne

Internet users

115,900 (2009)

Airports

27 (2010)

Other countries in the region