OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of Niger
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Unitary Multiparty Republic
AREA: 1,267,000 Sq Km (489,191 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION: 10,284,300
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: Niger is located in West Africa.
It is bound by Libya to the northeast, Algeria to the northwest,
Mali to the west, Burkina Faso to the southwest, Benin and
Nigeria to the south and Chad to the east. Around 80% of
Nigeria is arid desert while the remainder is savannah.
The northern region is characterized by sandy basins, low
plateaux, isolated hills, peaks and sandstone or limestone
bluffs. In the northwest the Tamgak Mountains rise from
the Iferouane Valley. The north central area has a volcanic
Air Massif which contains deep valleys or Koris where there
is dense vegetation while to the far east the Tenere, a
sandy and arid desert, is located. The principal river is
the Niger. Major Cities (pop. est.); Niamey 392,200, Zinder
119,800, Maradi 104,400, Tahoua 49,900, Agadez 49,400 (1988).
Land Use; forested 2%, pastures 7%, agricultural-cultivated
3%, other 88% (1993).
CLIMATE: Niger has a hot and dry climate with relatively cool
and dry conditions from November to February. The rainy season lasts from
June to October with most rainfall occurring during August. Rainfall varies
depending on the region and in the south the average annual precipitation
is 500 mm (29 inches) while in the north it drops below 200 mm (8 inches)
where conditions are sub desert or Sahelian. The average temperature ranges
in Niamey are from 14 to 34 degrees Celsius (57 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit)
in January to 27 to 41 degrees Celsius (81 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit) in
PEOPLE: Approximately 80% of the population are comprised of
various Black African tribes which include the Hausa, Songhai, Djerma,
Fulani, Beriberi-Manga and Tuareg. Ethnic aliens include minorities of
Europeans, mainly French descendants.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 7 persons per sq km (18
persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 21.1% urban, 78.9% rural (1988).
Sex Distribution; 49.3% male, 50.7% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
42.9 years male, 46.1 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 48% under 15,
26% 15 to 29, 14% 30 to 44, 8% 45 to 59, 3% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 51.7 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 20.4 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 31.3 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 135.0 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Around 80% of the population are Sunni Muslims while
around 20% follow local native tribal beliefs and .5% are Christians.
LANGUAGES: The official language is French which is only spoken
by a minority, although each tribal group has its own language. The major
national languages are Djerma and Hausa.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: no formal schooling
91.1%, primary 8.4%, secondary 0.3%, higher 0.2% (1977). Literacy; literate
population aged 15 or over 28.4% (1990).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: In Dec. 1958 Niger became an autonomous
republic within the French Community and on Aug. 3, 1960 Niger declared
its full independence with Hamani Diori as President. In Sept. 1960 Niger
became a member of the UN and in Aug. adopted a new constitution. During
the early and mid 1960's Diori's government survived attacks from the exiled
Sawaba forces. In the late 1960's and early 1970's a severe drought struck
Niger causing widespread food shortages and famine. In Apr. 1975 a military
coup led by Lt.Col. Seyni Kountche ousted the government, suspended the
constitution and dissolved the National Assembly. Lt.Col. Seyni Kountche
established a Military Council to rule the country with himself as President.
In 1976 and 1983 there were unsuccessful coup attempts against the Military
Council. In July 1987 a referendum resulted in the approval of a charter
which provided for the eventual return to civil rule. In Nov. 1987 Kountche
died and the Army's chief-of-staff, Col. Ali Saibou succeeded him as President.
In Feb. 1990 students held demonstrations and strikes in protest against
economic austerity measures which resulted in the deaths of at least 11
demonstrators when police opened fire. In May 1990 the government forces
were involved in clashes with Tuareg separatists in northern Tchintabaraden,
which resulted in the deaths of at least 6 soldiers and 31 Tuaregs. In
June 1990 more demonstrations took place, resulting in a constitutional
amendment that legalized opposition political parties. On July 29, 1991
following months of strikes and mass demonstrations, the National Conference
of Niger convened with the delegates immediately electing Andre Salifou
as its President. In response and in protest, the military and government
representatives withdrew, although the delegation later returned and a
multiparty election schedule with elections to be held in 15 months was
announced. Also in 1991 the economy continued to suffer as a result of
severe drought while an influx of grasshoppers also exacerbated the problem.
In Feb. 1992 some 3,000 mutinous soldiers that had not been paid for 2
months took control of a radio station and closed the capital's airport.
On March 4, 1992 a planned strike in protest to the mutiny was narrowly
averted and on March 23, 1992 Prime Minister Amadou Cheiffou dissolved
the transitional government. In July 1992 hundreds of students demonstrated
in protest to non-payment of grants. In Aug. 1992 the government retaliated
for a series of attacks by the Tuareg Liberation Front of Air and Azaward
(FLAA) and arrested some 168 Tuaregs. In Dec. 1992 a referendum overwhelmingly
approved a new constitution. In March 1993 Mahamane Ousmane of the Alliance
of the Forces of Change won Presidential elections. In the same month the
FLAA announced a 3 month truce while the new government announced it would
allow free movement across the Algerian border, provide aid for the returning
refugees and promised to lift the state of emergency imposed in the north.
In July 1993 soldiers mutinied throughout the country in protest to cuts
in the defense budget and in Aug. 1993 opposition groups led demonstrations
in protest to alleged violations of the new constitution. In Nov. 1993
student demonstrations that had occurred all year erupted into riots.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the CFA Franc (Communaute
Financiere Africaine-CFAF) divided into 100 Centimes.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $2,279,000,000 (1993). Public
Debt; USD $1,354,000,000 (1993). Imports; CFAF 67,500,000,000 (1993). Exports;
CFAF 69,100,000,000 (1993). Tourism Receipts; USD $16,000,000 (1993). Balance
of Trade; CFAF -10,800,000,000 (1994). Economically Active Population;
4,130,000 or 50.0% of total population (1992). Unemployed; 1.3% (1988).
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are France,
other EU countries, Nigeria and the USA.
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Coal, Cotton, Ground Nuts, Iron Ore, Livestock,
Millet, Phosphates, Rice, Sorghum, Tin, Uranium.
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Food Processing, Mining, Textiles.
MAIN EXPORTS: Coal, Ground Nuts, Hides and Skins, Iron Ore, Livestock,
TRANSPORT: Railroads; nil. Roads; length 39,970 km (24,836 mi)
(1988). Vehicles; cars 27,254 (1988), trucks and buses 25,248 (1988). Merchant
Marine; nil. Air Transport; passenger-km 208,567,000 (129,597,000 passenger-mi)
(1988), cargo ton-km 35,223,000 (24,124,000 short ton-mi) (1988).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 1 with a circulation
of 5,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 440,000 (1994). Television; receivers
25,000 (1994). Telephones; units 10,500 (1993).
MILITARY: 5,300 (1995) total active duty personnel with 98.1%
army, 0.0% navy and 1.9% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 1.5% (1993) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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