Niger is a country in Western Africa. It is a land locked sub Saharan nation .As a land locked nation Niger shares a border with many African countries. Nigeria, not to be confused with Niger is one of the neighbours. Others are Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya and Mali. . Four fifths of the country is desert and the remaining one fifth of the Southern most part is Savannah. This region is suitable for livestock and can sustain limited agriculture. The population is mostly rural. Niamey is the capital, the zebu is the national animal and the currency is CFA Franc.
FACT 1: The people of Niger are called Nigeriens and the adjective is Nigerien. This is distinct from neighbouring Nigeria, whose people are called Nigerians. Both countries are named after the Niger River, the 11th longest river. The Niger runs through both countries before taking a 90o turn south to empty into the Gulf of Guinea.
FACT 2: Before the coming of the French in the late nineteenth century, the Hausa people ruled the region. They were traders and controlled the forest trade coming from the South. They built a number of small but stable kingdoms. The ruler of each kingdom lived in a walled city. Their kingdoms were on the trade routes to their more powerful neighbours Mali and Gao. This gave the Hausa people a strategic advantage. On the other hand they were always threatened by them. In the 14th century the Hausa converted to Islam. Today 55.4% of the Nigerien population is of Hausa stock.
FACT 3: Niger was a part of French West Africa. This was a region controlled by the French. It consisted of Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Senegal, Mali (French Sudan), Niger, Algeria, Mauritania and Upper Volta.
FACT 4: Niger became a Republic on 18 Dec 1958, two years before gaining independence from France in 1960. The President is the Head of State and the Prime Minister is the Head of Government.
FACT 5: Various ethnic groups live in Niger. The Hausa is the largest group 55.4%. Others are Djerma Sonrai 21%, Tuareg 9.3%, Peuhi 8.5%, and Kanouri Manga 4.7%. The official language is French. Other languages are Hausa and Djerma. 80% of the population are Muslim. The other 20% follow Christianity or other indigenous beliefs.
FACT 6: According to a July 2014 estimate, Niger has a population of 17,466,172. Of these 49.8% are below the age of 14.The median age is 15.1 years. This high percentage of young people makes the population pyramid bottom heavy and the country has a total dependency ratio of 111.6. The country does not fare well on other Human Development Indices of the UN Millennium Development Goals; life expectancy at birth is low at 54.7 years, fertility rate is high at 6.9, the birth rate far exceeds the death rate.
FACT 7: The statistics are an indication of the lack of governance in the country since independence. Continuous political upheaval with military coups, constitutional amendments, rebellions, security concerns on the borders have all contributed to make Niger the poorest country in the world, with minimal government services and insufficient funds to develop its resources.
FACT 8: Niger has large deposits of uranium and coal iron ore, tin, gold, salt and petroleum. Niger is also rich in wildlife, but this is under threat from habitat destruction and poaching.
FACT 9: The national colours of Niger are orange white and green. The flag is similar to the Indian Flag. The orange band on top stands for the drier Northern Regions, the white band in the centre stands for purity and innocence and the green band stands for the hope that the fertile South brings. The orange disc in the middle stands for the sun and represents the suffering of the people.
FACT 10: Antelope, hippopotamus, elephants, lions and buffalo are preserved in the W National Park.