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Niger, in the Bible
Niger, country, Africa
Niger (nīˈjər, nēzhârˈ), officially Republic of Niger, republic (2015 est. pop. 18,045,729), 489,189 sq mi (1,267,000 sq km), W Africa. It borders on Burkina Faso and Mali in the west, on Algeria and Libya in the north, on Chad in the east, and on Nigeria and Benin in the south. Niamey is the country's capital and its largest city.
Land and People
Niger is extremely arid except along the Niger River in the southwest and near the border with Nigeria in the south, where there are strips of savanna. Most of the rest of the country is either semidesert (part of the Sahel) or part of the Sahara. In N central Niger is the Aïr Massif (average elevation: 3,000 ft/910 m; maximum elevation: c.5,900 ft/1,800 m), which receives slightly more rainfall than the surrounding desert. In addition to Niamey, other cities include Maradi, Tahoua, and Zinder.
The main ethnic groups are the Hausa, the Songhai and Djerma (Zarma), the Fulani, the Tuareg, and the Kanuri. The great majority of the population is rural and lives in the south. There is a significant migration of seasonal labor to Ghana, Nigeria, and Chad. About 80% of the population is Muslim; most of the rest adhere to traditional religious beliefs, except for a small Christian minority in the cities. The country's official language is French; Hausa, Djerma, and other indigenous languages as well as Arabic are also spoken.
The economy of Niger is overwhelmingly agricultural, with about 90% of the workforce engaged in farming (largely of a subsistence type). The Hausa, Kanuri, and Songhai are mainly sedentary farmers, and the Fulani and Tuareg are principally nomadic and seminomadic pastoralists. The leading crops are cowpeas, cotton, peanuts, millet, sorghum, cassava, and rice. Cattle, sheep, goats, camels, donkeys, horses, and poultry are raised. Niger's agricultural production is subject to climatic changes, and there are recurring food shortages due to inadequate harvests resulting from too little rain.
Most of the country's few industries produce basic consumer goods such as processed food and beverages, soap, and textiles. In addition, chemicals, construction materials, peanut oil, and ginned cotton are produced. Niger has some of the world's largest uranium deposits, and the mining of high-grade uranium ore began in the 1970s at Arlit in the Aïr Massif. Small quantities of cassiterite (tin ore), low-grade iron ore, gypsum, phosphates, coal, natron, and salt also are extracted. Gold and petroleum deposits are being explored. There is a fishing industry in the Niger River and Lake Chad.
Niger has a very limited transportation network; there is no railroad, and most of the country's all-weather roads are confined to the south and southwest. A major road also runs N from Zinder, through Agadez (in the Aïr Massif), and into Algeria. Niger is landlocked and has only poor access to the sea.
The annual cost of Niger's imports usually is considerably higher than the value of its exports. The leading imports are foodstuffs, machinery, vehicles and parts, petroleum, and cereals; the chief exports are uranium ore, livestock products, cowpeas, onions, and cotton. The principal trade partners are France, the United States, and Nigeria.
Early History and Colonialism
Numerous Neolithic remains of early pastoralism have been found in the desert areas of Niger. Ptolemy wrote of Roman expeditions to the Aïr Massif. In the 11th cent. A.D., Tuareg migrated from the desert to the Aïr region, where they later (c.1300) established a state centered at Agadez. Agadez was situated on a major trans-Saharan caravan route that connected N Africa with present-day N Nigeria. In E Niger, Bilma, a salt-mining center, was on another important trans-Saharan route that linked N Africa with the state of Bornu (located in present-day NE Nigeria).
In the 14th cent. the Hausa (most of whom lived in what is now N Nigeria) founded several city-states in S Niger. In the early 16th cent. much of W and central Niger came under the Songhai empire (centered at Gao on the Niger River in present-day Mali), and after the fall of Songhai at the end of the 16th cent. E and central Niger passed to Bornu. In the 17th cent. the Djerma people settled in SW Niger near the Niger River. In the early 19th cent. Fulani gained control of S Niger as a result of the holy war waged against the Hausa by the Muslim reformer Usuman dan Fodio.
At the Conference of Berlin (1884–85) the territory of Niger was placed within the French sphere of influence. The French established several military posts in S Niger in the late 1890s, but did not occupy Agadez until 1904 because of concerted Tuareg resistance. In 1900, Niger was made a military territory within Upper Senegal–Niger, and in 1922 it was constituted a separate colony within French West Africa. Zinder was the colony's capital until 1926, when it was replaced by Niamey. The French generally governed through existing political structures and did not alter substantially the institutions of the country; they undertook little economic development and provided few new educational opportunities.
Independence and Its Aftermath
National political activity began when Niger received its own assembly under the French constitution of 1946, which established the French Union. The first important political organization was the Niger Progressive party (PPN), a part of the Rassemblement Démocratique Africain (which had branches in most French West African territories). In the mid-1950s a leftist party (later called Sawaba) headed by Bakary Djibo became predominant in the colony. However, when it unsuccessfully campaigned for complete independence in a 1958 referendum, the PPN (which favored autonomy for Niger within the French Community) regained power.
Niger achieved full independence on Aug. 3, 1960, and Hamani Diori, the leader of the PPN, became its first president; he was reelected in 1965 and 1970. In the early 1960s, sporadic campaigns of rebel warfare were waged by the outlawed Sawaba party (most of whose members lived in exile). Otherwise, Niger enjoyed political stability, despite its weak economy and occasional ethnic conflicts; the PPN maintained firm control of the government. Close ties were retained with France, which gave Niger considerable aid.
The country was severely affected by the Sahelian drought of 1968–75; much of its livestock died and crop production fell drastically. In 1974, Diori was overthrown in a military coup led by Lt. Col. Seyni Kountché, who cultivated ties with members of the European Community, neighboring African nations, and Arab nations. The uranium boom of the early 1980s caused disparities in wealth that led to civil unrest. A coup attempt was quickly put down by the government in 1983, and fear of opposition prompted frequent cabinet changes to ensure that officials were loyal.
Kountché died in 1987 and was succeeded by Gen. Ali Seybou as head of state. Seybou vowed to dismantle the ruling Supreme Military Council and introduce civilian rule. In 1991, a 1,204-member national conference suspended the constitution and dissolved the government. A transitional civilian government ruled until 1993, when Mahamane Ousmane was elected president in free elections. However, an opposition coalition subsequently won control of the legislature, leading to a protracted stalemate. Conflict between the government and the Tuareg in the early 1990s, in part over uranium mining on traditional Tuareg lands, subsided with the signing of a peace accord in 1995. Some Tuaregs, however, continued sporadic attacks into the 21st cent. By 2007 a more serious uprising broke out, but two of the three rebel groups agreed to a cease-fire in 2009.
In Jan., 1996, the government was ousted in a coup led by Col. Ibrahim Baré Mainassara. Presidential elections held in July, 1996, were won by Mainassara, who replaced the independent electoral commission with a handpicked one during the two-day poll. Mainassara was assassinated by members of his presidential guard in Apr., 1999, and Maj. Daouda Malam Wanké became head of state. France, the country's major aid donor, suspended aid following the coup. In Nov., 1999, elections were held for a new president and parliament; a retired colonel, Mamadou Tandja, was elected president. There were tensions in 2000 with neighboring Benin over some long-disputed islands in the Niger River; their ownership was finally settled in 2005 by the International Court of Justice. Tandja, whose first term was marked by relative stability, was reelected in Dec., 2004.
Niger's agriculture was hurt by a major locust outbreak and drought in 2004, leading to famine and a need for international food aid in 2005. In Oct., 2006, the government began expelling Mahamid Arabs who had emigrated from Chad mainly during the 1970s and 80s; although the move, which was soon suspended after neighboring nations requested it be halted, was ostensibly for security reasons, observers believed that political, racial, and economic rivalries lay behind the explusion.
In 2009 the president, who had said he would step down at the end of his second term, sought to hold a referendum on allowing him to run for a third term, but the constitutional court ruled (May) that it was illegal. The vote was also opposed by parliament, but Tandja dismissed parliament and assumed executive powers, and subsequently announced he would hold a referendum. When the court again ruled in June that the referendum was illegal, Tandja dismissed the court, provoking oppositions protests and leading to government crackdown.
In the August vote Tandja claimed an overwhelming victory, but the opposition charged the president with hugely inflating the number of voters. The referendum approved constitutional changes that increased the president's powers, extended his current term by three years, and ended term limits. The opposition subsequently boycotted the October elections for a new parliament, in which two thirds of the seats were won by Tandja's party, and Tandja mounted a crackdown on opposition politicians. In Feb., 2010, the military ousted Tandja, but the coup leaders asserted they would restore civilian rule as soon as possible. Major Salou Djibo was named head of the junta (the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy), and Mahamadou Danda, a civilian and former communications minister, was named prime minister.
In Oct., 2010, a number of junta officers, including the deputy military leader, were dismissed or arrested in association with an alleged coup plot, and a new constitution was approved in a referendum at the end of the month. The following month the Economic Community of West African States court called for Tandja to be released, but he remained in custody until May, 2011. In Mar., 2011, Mahamadou Issoufou, an opposition leader, was elected president after a runoff.
By 2013, the spillover from terrorist operations by Islamist groups in neighboring Algeria, Mali, and Nigeria had led as well to significant confrontations in Niger, and recurring fighting in Niger continued into the next decade. In 2015 Niger and Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Nigeria agreed to form an African Union–authorized regional force to combat the Nigeria-based Boko Haram, superseding a 2012 agreement to form a joint task force that had not progressed. From 2013, Niger also became a base for U.S., French, and other Western forces involved in attacks on Islamist militants in the region. In Dec., 2015, the government arrested several military officers and said it had foiled a planned coup. The 2016 presidential election was marred by the arrest of the main challenger, Hama Amadou, on baby-trafficking charges, which forced him to campaign from prison (until he was flown to France for medical treatment). The opposition boycotted the runoff, and Issoufou won easily.
See P. Donaint and F. Lancrenon, Le Niger (1972); S. Baier, An Economic History of Central Niger (1980); F. Fugelstad, A History of Niger, 1850–1960 (1984).
Niger, river, Africa
Niger (nīˈjər), great river of W Africa, c.2,600 mi (4,180 km) long, rising on the Fouta Djallon plateau, SW Guinea, and flowing NE through Guinea and into Mali. In central Mali the Niger forms its vast inland delta (c.30,000 sq mi/77,700 sq km), a maze of channels and shallow lakes. An irrigation project in the delta, begun by the French in the 1930s and including a large dam at Sansanding (1941), has since opened some 250,000 acres (100,000 hectares) to farming, especially rice cultivation. Downstream from Timbuktu, Mali, the Niger begins a great bend, flowing first E and then SE out of Mali, through the Republic of Niger (where it forms part of the border with Benin), and into Nigeria; the river also becomes increasingly polluted.
A hydroelectric and irrigation project, centered around the Kainji dam (1968), is located on the Niger near Jebba in E Nigeria. At Lokoja, central Nigeria, the Benue, its chief tributary, joins the Niger, which then flows south, emptying through a great delta into the Gulf of Guinea. The delta (c.14,000 sq mi/36,260 sq km)—the largest in Africa—is characterized by swamps, lagoons, and navigable channels. The region is a major source of palm oil and petroleum; the exploitation of the latter has led to significant pollution of the water and land in some areas of the delta. Major towns in the delta are Port Harcourt and Bonny. Much of the Niger is seasonally navigable, and below Lokoja it is open to ships virtually all year. The Niger is a major source of fish, especially perch and tiger fish.
The upper Niger region was an important part of the former empires of Mali and Songhai. The course of the Niger long puzzled European geographers; only from 1795 to 1797 did Mungo Park, the Scots explorer, correctly establish the eastern flow of the upper Niger, and it was not until 1830 that Richard and John Lander, English explorers, found that the river emptied into the Gulf of Guinea.
Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria are members of the Niger Basin Authority, which was founded in 1960 and given its present name in 1984. It promotes the cooperative development and management of the Niger River and its basin. The water level of the Niger has been substantially lowered as a result of the long-term W African drought in the late 1960s, 70s, and 80s; in 1985 and 1990 sections of the river dried up.
(pen name of Ivan Vasil’evich Dzhanaev). Born Oct. 21 (Nov. 2), 1896, in the village of Sindzisar in the former Nar District, Ossetia; died May 3, 1947, in Ordzhonikidze. Soviet Ossetian poet and literary scholar.
Niger graduated from the department of literature of the Gori Pedagogical Institute in 1930. From 1936 he was head of the department of history of Ossetian literature at the Severnaia Osetiia Scientific Research Institute. His poetry from the Soviet period is suffused with the fervor of revolutionary struggle and enthusiasm for the building of socialism. Niger introduced new forms into Ossetian poetry. He is the author of the narrative poems Gytstsi (1934), On the Bank of the Terek (1939), and The Red Army Soldier Will Tell All About It (1945). He wrote narrative poems based on themes from folk songs and legends, for example, Uakhatag’s Son, the Daring Guiman (1935) and Badeliata’s Dance (1935). Together with T. Epkhiev, Niger coauthored the drama Kosta (1939) about the fate of K. Khetagurov. He is also the author of studies on the works of Ossetian writers.
WORKSUatsmï’stï, äxxäst ämbïrdgond, vols. 1–3. Ordzhonikidze, 1966–68.
In Russian translation:
Dumy Osetii. Moscow, 1951.
REFERENCESMarzoev, S. Problema polozhitel’nogo geroia v poezii Nigera. Ordzhonikidze, 1956.
Ardasentï, X. “Kurdiatjïn stïr poët.” Tsardamä poëzii. Ordzhonikidze, 1962.
a river in West Africa (Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria); it is the third longest river with the third largest basin area in Africa (after the Nile and the Congo). It is 4,160 km long and drains an area of 2,092,000 sq km.
The Niger originates as the Djoliba River on the slopes of the Leone-Liberian Upland and empties into the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean, forming a delta. Its main tributaries on the right bank are the Milo and the Bani; its main left bank tributaries are the Sokoto, the Kaduna, and the Benue. From its source to approximately 10° N lat., the Niger flows northeastward through mountains, mostly in a narrow valley, and then flows through the plains of the Sudan. From Kouroussa to Bamako and below the city of Ségou, the river valley widens. There the volume of water increases as a result of the influx of tributaries and the river becomes navigable.
Between the cities of Ké Macina and Tombouctou (Timbuktu), the Niger divides into many branches and flows through a wide, very marshy valley with an abundance of creeks, lakes, and dried-up riverbeds. This region is an inland delta of the Niger; at one time here the river discharged into a large lake without an outlet. In the vicinity of Tombouctou, the branches unite into a single channel. The river then flows east for about 300 km along the southern border of the Sahara, without receiving important tributaries. From the village of Bourem the river turns southeast and below the town of Yelwa crosses the Northern Guinean Upland, where it receives many small tributaries. Further on, all the way to the mouth (about 750 km), the river flows through a wide valley and becomes navigable. At the town of Lokoja the Niger receives its principal tributary, the Benue, and becomes a mighty stream up to 3 km wide and 20 m and more deep. The Niger Delta (24,000 sq km) begins 180 km from the ocean near the town of Aba. The longest branch is the Nun, but the deeper Forcados branch is used for navigation. Sea tides cover a large part of the delta and fall short of its summit by only 35 km; tides on the Forcados reach approximately 1.2 m.
The Niger is fed by summer monsoon rains and is characterized by a complex water regime. In its upper course, high water resulting from rains begins in June and at Bamako reaches a maximum in September and October. In the lower course, the water begins to rise in June from local rains, in September it reaches a maximum, after which the level drops, but in February it rises again as a result of floodwaters coming from the upper part of the basin. The Niger’s mean annual flow rate at its mouth is 8,630 cu m per sec, the annual water flow is 378 cu km, and discharges during high-water periods can reach 30,000 to 35,000 cu m per sec. The river’s inland delta and estuarine delta contain considerable accumulations of alluvial deposits. The Niger carries 67 million tons of silt a year. Dams have been built on the river—the Egrett (at Bamako) and the Sansanding (at the settlement of the same name)—to raise the water level in order to feed irrigation canals. The Niger’s hydroelectric resources amount to about 30 million gigawatts but are greatly underutilized. In the 1960’s, the Kainji Dam (designed capacity, 960,000 kW), with a reservoir of about 600 sq km in area, was built in Nigeria. The Niger is navigable from Kouroussa to Bamako, from the Sotuba waterfall to Ansongo, and from Niamey to the mouth. Fishing is an important industry (carp, perch, barbel). The most important cities on the Niger are Kouroussa, Bamako, Tombouctou, and Jebba. Port Harcourt is a seaport on the Niger Delta.
REFERENCESDmitrevskii, Iu. D. Vnutrennie vody Afriki i ikh ispol’zovanie. Leningrad, 1967.
River Studies and Recommendations on Improvement of Niger and Benue. The Hague-Amsterdam, 1959.
A. P. MURANOV
Official name: Republic of Niger
Capital city: Niamey
Internet country code: .ne
Flag description: Three equal horizontal bands of orange (top), white, and green with a small orange disk (representing the sun) centered in the white band
National motto: Fraternity – Work – Progress
Geographical description: Western Africa, southeast of Algeria
Total area: 490,000 sq. mi. (1,267,000 sq. km.)
Climate: Desert; mostly hot, dry, dusty; tropical in extreme south
Nationality: noun: Nigerien(s); adjective: Nigerien
Population: 12,894,865 (July 2007 CIA est.)
Ethnic groups: Haoussa 55.4%, Djerma Sonrai 21%, Touareg 9.3%, Peuhl 8.5%, Kanouri Manga 4.7%, other 1.2%
Languages spoken: French (official), Hausa, Djerma, Fulfulde, Kanuri, Tamachek, Toubou, Gourmantche, Arabic
Religions: Muslim 85%, other (includes indigenous religions and Christian) 15%