Niger By | Saturday, September 8  2012 at  16:08

Full Name
Republic of Niger (English)
Republique du Niger (French)
Origins: Name derives from the River Niger, and meaning black in Latin.

Current Leader
Mahamadou Issoufou

Overview

Niger played an important role in the trade between North Africa and kingdoms farther south from the 14th century onwards because of its extensive mineral resources.
The nomadic, animal-breeding Tuaregs controlled most of the north and after a drought in the 18th century, extended their dominance southwards, making contact with agriculturalists
The French colonised Niger in the late 1800s, but not before meeting heavy resistance, particularly from the Tuaregs.
The country attained independence on August 3, 1960 from France

Facts

Form of government
Republic
President is the Chief of State
Head of Government is the Prime Minister
President elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term)

Government Structure
President, Prime Minister, Cabinet (appointed by the President)

Military Statistics
Manpower fit for service : Males age 16-49 : 2,019, 553 and Females age 16-48: 2, 046,906
Military Expenditure : 1.3 per cent of GDP
Branches : Nigérien Armed Forces, Niger Air Force, Army

Former rulers
•1960 – 1974 Hamani Diori
•1974 - 1987 Seyni Kountché
•1987 - 1993 Ali Saïbou
•1993 – 1996 Mahamane Ousmane
•1996 - 1999 Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara
• Apr 11, 1999 - Dec 22, 1999 Daouda Malam Wanké
• December 22, 1999 – February 2010 Mamadou Tandja

February 2010 - 2011 Gen Salou Djibo

March 2011 - Mahamadou Issoufou

Capital
Niamey
Population: 774,235 people
Altitude: 213 metres

Country Population
Size : 16,274,738 (2012)
Life Expectancy: 52.6 years
Gender make-up: Male 51.12% and Female 48.88

GDP per capita
$732 (2011)

$721 (2010)

Geography
Area: 1,267,000sqkm
Boundaries: Algeria 956km, Benin 266km, Burkina Faso 628km, Chad 1,175km, Libya 354km, Mali 821km, Nigeria 1,497km

Languages
French (official), Hausa, Djerma, Arabic, Songhai

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

National make-up
Haoussa 55.3%, Djerma Sonrai 21%, Tuareg 9.3%, Peuhl 8.5%, Kanouri Manga 4.7%, other 1.2%

Natural Resources
Uranium, Coal, Iron ore, Tin, Phosphates, Gold, Molybdenum, Gypsum, Salt, Petroleum

Main Exports
Uranium, Livestock products

Land Use
Arable land: 11.43%
Permanent crops: 0.01%
Other: 88.56% (2005)

Monetary Unit/currency
CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc

Dialling Code
+227

Internet Country Code
.ne

Transport
Main Airport: Diori Hamani International Airport
Main port: Landlocked, significant exports pass through Cotonou in Benin.

Modern Issues

Environmental
Niger, one of the world's poorest countries, has been especially hard hit by the collapse of the uranium market and is dependent on subsistence farming as the backbone of its economy
Its high population growth rate also puts pressure of the few remaining forest lands. Consequently, between 1990 and 2005, the country lost 679,000 hectares or 34.9 per cent of its forest cover.
In Niger, formerly forested lands are being stalked by soil loss and desertification. The Sahara desert, which already covers two-thirds of the country, is expanding at a rate of 200,000 hectares annually. In an effort to slow the Sahara’s progress, the government planted more than 60 million trees between 1985 and 1999

Political
Mahamadou Issoufou was declared the winner of the Presidential polls in 2011 with 58% of the vote. The election marked a return to democracy after president Mamadou Tandja was ousted by the army in February 2010.

Economic
Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world. A landlocked nation, the economy centres on subsistence crops, livestock, and uranium deposits.

In 2011, the US reinstated Niger to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) which means the country will reap the benefits of preferential trade deals.
Drought cycles, desertification, and strong population growth have cut economic growth. Niger shares a common currency, the CFA franc, and a common central bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), with seven other members of the West African Monetary Union.

Social
Niger remains one of the world’s poorest nations and is grappling to deal with the threats of terrorism. This got worse due to the 2011 crisis in Libya and affected the country’s trade, immigration and security

Niger has been branded by the UN as the world's worst place to live. The UNDP looked at life expectancy, education and living standards, and rated it last out 182 countries.
With almost 60 per cent of the population living below the poverty line, the cost of healthcare makes it inaccessible for the majority. The government has approved a plan to provide free healthcare to pregnant women and children under five, but does not yet have the funds to realise the proposal.
Niger has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world.
The state controls much of the nation's broadcasting, though private radio stations have proliferated.
Niger is also cited as a source, transit, and destination country for children and women trafficked for forced labour and sexual exploitation; caste-based slavery practices, rooted in ancestral master-slave relationships, continue in isolated areas of the country - an estimated 8,800 to 43,000 Nigeriens live under conditions of traditional slavery
Patriarchal customs have meant slow progress on the rights of women in Niger.

Foreign policy issues
Niger pursues a moderate foreign policy and maintains friendly relations with the West, especially France, and the Islamic world as well as nonaligned countries.
Niger enjoys close relations with its West African neighbours
It is a member of the African Union and the West African Monetary Union and also belongs to the Niger River and Lake Chad Basin Commissions, the Ecowas, the Nonaligned Movement, and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

The country has had some disputes with her neigbours, mainly;

Libya claims about 25,000sqkm in a currently dormant dispute in the Tommo region,

Much of the Benin-Niger boundary remains undemarcated,

Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria have disputes over access to shrinking water resources in the Lake Chad Basin

Major Conflicts

Niger has had several coups
1974: First President Diori Haman ousted in coup. Lieutenant Colonel Seyni Kountche took over.
1996 : Mahaman Ousmane deposed in coup by Colonel Ibrahim Bare Mainassara
1999: Colonel Ibrahim Bare Mainassara assassinated by his presidential guard.

2009: Mamadou Tandja's unconstitutional push to extend his term generates internal and regional tensions, prompting a military coup in February 2010.

What to See
National Museum of Niger, a repository of Nigerien culture, also contains a library.
Grand Marche: The largest of the five Niamey markets, with every kind of.
Agadez Grand Mosquee. Located in Agadez, Ancient ruins; Religious site
Sultan’s palace in Zinder

Sports

Popular Sports
Soccer is the most popular sport
Rugby
Wrestling
Water sports such as motor boating and canoeing along the River Niger

Quirk
The men of the Wodaabé tribe are so tall and amazing looking that they enter beauty contests. A panel of female judges picks a winner after hours of dancing and face-pulling.
The country also has one of the highest fertility rates in the world, at 7.9 children.