|Republique du Niger
|Form of government
|Telephone area code
The Republic of Niger is a landlocked country in
Central Africa and, with an area of 1,267,000 km², is
the sixth largest country on the African continent
(about three and a half times the size of Germany).
Niger borders Algeria and Libya in the north, Chad in
the east, Nigeria and Benin in the south and Mali and
Burkina Faso in the west . Much of the country belongs
to the Sahara or Sahel region.
In the center of Niger is the Aïr Mountains (Azbine)
with peaks over 2,000 m high. Here is also the highest
mountain in the country, Mont Bagzane at 2022 m. The
mountains are of volcanic origin, in the valleys there
are oases (Timia, If®¶rouane). In the northwest, the
mountains merge into the Algerian Ahaggar Mountains. To
the west, south and east, the Aïr Mountains are
surrounded by desert-like basins that lie about 300 to
400 m above sea level. The T®¶n®¶r®¶ and Kaouar deserts in
the east stretch to the border with Chad and occupy over
50% of the country's territory.
The Djado plateau is located in the north of Niger on
the border with Libya, the extreme northeast is occupied
by the foothills of the Chadian Tibesti Mountains. The
south and south-east of the country belong to the Sahel
region, due to overgrazing and several droughts, the
desert is spreading more and more from the north. In the
southeast, the country has a share of Lake Chad, the
water level of which is subject to extreme fluctuations.
By draining the water for irrigating the fields, Lake
Chad has shrunk to one twentieth of its area in the past
40 years (former area 25,000 km²).
Only the southwestern part of Niger can be used for
agriculture (this corresponds to about three percent of
the total national area). The Niger River flows through
the country for a length of approx. 600 km (and is the
third largest river on the African continent with a
total length of approx. 4 180 km). The capital Niamey
lies on its northern bank .
The climate in Niger is hot and dry. The desert
regions in the north of the country average 17 °„ C in
January and 34 °„ C in July. Precipitation is extremely
rare here. In the south of the country the average
January temperature is around 23 °„ C, in July 33 °„ C.
The average rainfall is around 500 mm, there is a rainy
season from June to October. The driest month is August.
In the southeast in the Sahel regions, there is
sometimes no rainfall for years.
Flora and fauna
In the south, dry savannah dominates with grass
fields, thorny shrubs and isolated groups of trees
(acacias, baobab trees). Slash-and-burn and overgrazing
continue to destroy the vegetation. There is almost no
vegetation in the desert areas in the north of Niger,
with the exception of oases.
Specially adapted animals such as fennec (desert
fox), sand mice, gazelles and reptiles live in the
desert areas. In the savannah landscapes in the southern
part of the country antelopes, hyenas and a variety of
bird species live, in the southwest of the country in a
national park among other things lions, buffalos,
elephants and hippos.
A total of around 13 million people live in Niger,
most of them in the fertile areas in the south-west of
the country (the average population density is eleven
residents per square kilometer). The largest city is the
capital Niamey with around 900,000 residents. Other
cities include Zinder (172,000 residents), Maradi
(150,000), Tahoua (75,000) and Agadez (78,000). According to COUNTRYAAH,
about 21% of the population live in cities; 1.5 million
Nigerians are nomads.
Niger is a multi-ethnic country. The largest
population group are Haussa with a 55% share, followed
by Songhai (with Dyerma) with around 21%, Tuareg (9%),
Fulbe (9%) and Kanuri (4%). The official language is
French, and around three quarters of the population use
Haussa as the lingua franca. Depending on the ethnic
group, other languages are used. Around 95% of the
population are followers of Islam (the majority of whom
are Sunnis), and natural religions are also practiced.
Only a fraction of the country's area can be used for
agriculture (approx. 3%), population growth is high
(approx. 2.6%) and the yields of agriculture are
becoming less and less due to persistent droughts. More
than 60% of the population live below the poverty line.
Due to a lack of medical care, the mortality rate in
infants and young children is very high (12.2%). The
average life expectancy is around 42 years. Less than
half of Niger's people have access to safe drinking
water. Infectious diseases are widespread, the number of
people infected with the immunodeficiency disease AIDS
is constantly increasing. About half of the population
is younger than 15 years.
School attendance is compulsory for children between
the ages of seven and 15, and school attendance is free
of charge. However, only an estimated 25% of all
children go to school. The literacy rate is only 17.5%.
Niger is a presidential republic, the current
constitution dates from 2010. The head of state is the
president, elected by the people for a term of five
years (Mahamadou Issoufou since April 2011), who has
extensive powers. He can be re-elected once. The
President appoints the Prime Minister to run the
government (Brigi Rafini since April 2011).
The legislature lies with the National Assembly with
113 seats. The people are elected by the people for a
term of five years.
The legal system in Niger is based on the French.
Niger is divided into eight departments including the
Niger is the second poorest country on the African
continent after Sierra Leone.
Around 40% of gross domestic product (GDP) is
generated in the agricultural sector. Livestock farming
(horses, cattle, goats, camels, sheep) is of paramount
importance. The crop yields from millet, bean, peanut,
cassava, rice and cotton cultivation are low and mostly
serve only for self-sufficiency. Although 90% of the
population work in agriculture, this is mostly a
subsistence economy and is also heavily dependent on the
climatic conditions (recurring droughts). The country
has long been unable to meet the food needs of the
The main export of the Republic of Niger is uranium,
which generates around half of its export earnings. The
industrial sector is poorly developed and focuses on the
processing or production of food, textiles, building
materials and chemicals. France is the most important
trading partner for exports (uranium, animals, cotton,
peanuts, onions), followed by Nigeria and Japan. Mainly
consumer goods, machines, raw materials and food are
introduced. France is the leading trading partner here
too, followed by Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and China.
Around 19,000 km of roads are available in Niger, of
which around 4,000 km are paved. There is no rail
network. The Niger River is navigable for approximately
300 km. There are international airports in Niamey and
Agadez. In the desert areas, caravans are still of great
importance for trade.
The currency is the CFA franc.