Population: 16,274,738 (est.)
- The West African CFA franc is the official currency of Niger.
- Islam, spread from North Africa beginning in the 10th century, has greatly shaped the mores of the people of Niger. Between 80 to more than 98 percent of the population is Muslim, with small Animist and Christian communities.
- Niger is the biggest country in West Africa in terms of land mass.
- The name Niger is derived from the phrase gher n-gheren which means “river among rivers,” in the Tamashek language.
- Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world.
- Niger has one of the lowest Human Development Indexes on Earth.
- The country of Niger is one of the hottest countries in the world.
- Slavery was declared illegal in Niger in May 2004.
Niger, officially the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east. Niger covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2, making it the largest nation in West Africa, with over 80 percent of its land area covered by the Sahara desert. The country’s predominantly Islamic population of just above 15,000,000 is mostly clustered in the far south and west of the nation. The capital city is Niamey, located in the far-southwest corner of Niger.
Niger is a developing country, and consistently ranks as one of the lowest ranks of the United Nations’ Human Development Index (HDI), 186th of 187 countries in 2011. Much of the non-desert portions of the country are threatened by periodic drought and desertification. The economy is concentrated around subsistence and some export agriculture clustered in the more fertile south, and the export of raw materials, especially uranium ore. Niger remains handicapped by its landlocked position, desert terrain, poor education and poverty of its people, lack of infrastructure, poor health care, and environmental degradation.
Nigerien society reflects a diversity drawn from the long independent histories of its several ethnic groups and regions and their relatively short period living in a single state. Historically, what is now Niger has been on the fringes of several large states. Since independence, Nigeriens have lived under five constitutions and three periods of military rule. Following a military coup in 2010, Niger has become a democratic, multi-party state. A majority live in rural areas, and have little access to advanced education.