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République du Niger
Republic of Niger
Flag of Niger
Coat of arms of Niger
flag coat of arms
Motto : "Fraternité, Travail, Progrès"
( French "brotherhood, work, progress")
Official language French
Capital Niamey
State and form of government semi-presidential republic
Head of state President
Mahamadou Issoufou
Head of government Prime Minister
Brigi Rafini
area approx. 1,267,000 km²
population 23,300,000 (2019)
Population density 18 inhabitants per km²
Population development   + 3.8% (2018) per year
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 9.30 billion ( 144. )
  • $ 23.83 billion ( 143. )
  • 414 USD ( 188. )
  • 1,062 USD ( 188. )
Human Development Index   0.354 ( 189th ) (2017)
currency CFA Franc BCEAO (XOF)
independence August 3, 1960 (from France )
National anthem La Nigérienne
Time zone UTC + 1
License Plate RN
ISO 3166 NE , NER, 562
Internet TLD .ne
Telephone code +227
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Niger ( German [ ˈniːgɐ ], French  [ niˈʒɛːʁ ] ), full form Republic of Niger , is a landlocked country in West Africa . The eponymous river Niger flows through the relatively densely populated southwest of the desert and savanna state. Please click to listen!Play

Niger borders Algeria and Libya to the north, Mali and Burkina Faso to the west, Chad to the east and Nigeria and Benin to the south . It is a landlocked country with shares in the Sahara , the Sahel and the Sudan . The population of around 23.3 million is growing rapidly as a result of births, and the fertility rate of 6.93 is the highest in the world. The largest city in Niger is the capital Niamey . Other major cities are Zinder , Maradi and Agadez .

The former French colony has been independent since 1960. After a period of coups d'état and Tuareg uprisings , Niger appears to be stabilizing politically. Regularly recurring droughts and famines with a population that is growing too quickly due to a lack of birth control are a threat to the existence of the majority of the Nigerian population . Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and in 2019 ranked last out of 189 countries in the human development index . In the Fragile States Index , which includes numerous political, economic and social criteria, Niger ranks 19th out of 178 countries examined with a score of 95.3 out of 120 (the higher the worse).


In the center of Niger lies the Aïr mountains , the highest peak of which, Idoukal-n-Taghès , is also the highest point in the country at 2022  m . The Aïr Mountains (Massif Aïr) are the southeastern continuation of the Algerian Hoggar or Ahaggar Mountains and form the geographical border with the Chad Basin . The Termit massif is located southeast of the Aïr . The almost 200 km long valley of the Dilia de Lagané extends from its southern foothills , at the southern end of which the foothills of the Mega Lake Chad can still be seen.

Landscape in southwest Niger

The Aïr is surrounded by deserts to the west, south and east , the largest of which is the Erg du Ténéré to the east . It occupies about 30% of the national territory, which is only densely populated on the southwestern edge. Further east is the Grand Erg de Bilma with the Kaouar Valley . These Sahara areas extend east to the border of Chad . In the north of Ténéré goes into the Djadoplateau over, in the northeast to Tibestigebirge . These deserts, which all belong to the Sahara, take up about two thirds of the country's surface. Large parts of Ténéré and Aïr part of the 77,000 square kilometers of Aïr and Ténéré Nature Reserve , a World Heritage of UNESCO . In the south of the Aïr Mountains lies the important fossil site Gadoufaoua from the Lower Cretaceous period ( Albium - Aptium , 126.3 to 100.5 mya ). Because of the numerous dinosaur remains, for example Nigersaurus or Ouranosaurus nigeriensis , the area is considered a "dinosaur cemetery" of the Sahara.

About a third of the Niger in the south and southeast is part of the Sahel (Sahel = Arab. "Shore" of the desert). This strip is located on the northern edge of the dry savannah. Since the late 1960s, several droughts occurred in the thorn bush savannah and increasingly transformed it into a desert-like landscape. In the southeast, part of Lake Chad lies in the Niger area, but its extent retreats behind the border with Chad in severe drought.

The southwest is dominated by the Niger , the third largest river in Africa. As a foreigner river, it flows through a particularly fertile region of the country over a length of 650 kilometers and forms the border with Benin in the lower part before it leaves the country in the south at an altitude of almost 200  m for Nigeria.

In 1954, the transnational National Park W was designated as the only national park in Niger.


Climate diagram of Zinder in Niger; the temperature curve is the red line, the bars show the precipitation
The climatic zones in Niger

Niger's climate is consistently hot and dry. The West African monsoons bring a rainy season from June to October to the south of the country . During this time almost all of the annual precipitation falls, averaging between 400 and 700 millimeters. About half of the precipitation is expected in August. In the northern parts of the country (desert areas) there is practically no rainfall recently.

The daytime temperatures in the desert areas averaged 17 ° C in January and 34 ° C in June. In the south, 22 to 24 ° C is measured in January and 32 to 34 ° C in June.

According to the dry climate, the dry savannah changes from south to north into thorn bush savannah and soon into semi and full desert. In the north there are large areas of sand and stone desert . As a result of the five-year drought between 1969 and 1974 in the entire Sahel zone , the water table has sunk, the natural vegetation has partly died off completely and partly also destroyed by livestock. This in turn has reduced livestock numbers and cost lives. The space that can only be used by nomads has subsequently expanded by around 50 km further south.


The watercourses in Niger

The state of Niger drains over two catchment areas; that of Niger and that of Lake Chad. However, the state of Niger hardly contributes to either of the catchment areas. In large parts of the country, rainfall is less than 200 mm. Many river beds only carry water for a short period of time, if at all, and usually do not reach Lake Chad or Niger.

The largest catchment area is that of the Azawagh with the Dallol Bosso as its estuary. It extends as a system of wadis over the Aïr, the Ahaggar in Algeria and the Adrar des Ifoghas mountains in Mali as a border and drained the Ullemmeden basin at more humid times .

Catchment area Square kilometre Percent of the country's area
Niger 563,939 44.5
Lake Chad 703.061 55.5
total 1,267,000 100


In the south, in the dry savannah , there are mainly native grasses , thorn bushes and dry forest. Tamarinds , baobabs , kapok trees and mahogany trees grow in the lower region . Due to overgrazing and drought, the vegetation of the savannah has suffered greatly in recent years. The areas of the north are practically devoid of vegetation.


The fauna of large parts of the country is not very species-rich due to the barren and growing desert vegetation. The desert regions dominate the entire north of the country. Here live Fenneks and gazelles , while in the mountains of Aïr among other baboons and AIR Barbary sheep are found. At the same time, the Aïr is home to one of the largest protected areas on earth, the Aïr and Ténéré nature reserve . The southern parts of the country, in which savannahs naturally predominate, are naturally more species-rich. As in the whole of West Africa, however, the large animal world is now limited to relic occurrences. In the southwest of Niger lies the W National Park , which, together with the neighboring Pendjari National Park in Benin and the Arli National Park in Burkina Faso, forms one of the most important large animal sanctuaries in West Africa. Here are lions , antelopes , giraffes , buffaloes , ostriches , elephants and hippos before.


Population development in millions of inhabitants
Niger has the youngest population in the world

Since independence in 1960, Niger's population has grown from 3.2 to 23.3 million, which is more than seven times the population. The government is hardly taking any measures to contain the population explosion or to make the land more agriculturally usable. The UN predicts that the population will continue to grow and will be around 66 million in 2050 and around 165 million in 2100.

The fertility rate is 6.92 births per woman (2018), the world's highest, leading to an annual population growth of 3.8%. It has been slowly falling since 1983, when the fertility rate peaked at 7.89. The proportion of the population under 15 years of age was 49.8% in 2012. Niger had the youngest median age of any country at 15.2 years.

Most brides in Niger are under the age of majority when they get married - according to a 2012 study by the Nigerien Ministry of Public Health, 75% of girls are between 15 and 19 years old when they get married. In a 2011 report by the United Nations Children's Fund , Niger ranks first on the list of countries with the highest number of child marriages.

There are many oasis inhabitants , nomads and semi-nomads , especially in the north of the country . However, many of them are giving up nomadism and moving to the sometimes overpopulated cities. The majority of the population lives in the south, mostly on the border with Nigeria and Benin.


Settlement areas of the ethnic groups

The Zarma and Songhai ethnic groups, which are politically dominant in the Niger region, make up around 21% of the total population. About 55.4% belong to the Hausa majority of the population . The Hausa inhabit the central south on the border with Nigeria. Already during the French colonial era, the Songhai and Zarma were mostly preferred when assigning key political positions to Nigerians. This disproportionate level of representation in the population continued during the period of the independent republic. The first three presidents of Niger were all Zarma. In 1993, Mahamane Ousmane was the first Hausa to be elected president.

Around 9.3% of the population belong to the Tuareg beers, who live as nomads or sedentary oasis inhabitants in the semi-desert and desert. They mainly settle in the Agadez region in the north of the country. About 4.7% are the so-called Beri Beri ( Kanuri ) in Niger . The Fulbe ethnic group lives sedentary or as pastoral nomads, with 8.5% of the population in the Sahel zone. In addition, over 3,000 French people live in the country , mostly in the cities. In 2017, 1.4% of the population was born abroad. Most of the foreigners come from Nigeria and Mali and are often refugees.

There is a Nigerien diaspora that lives mainly in France and Nigeria.


The official language is French. There are also ten recognized national languages . Of these, the two languages Hausa (it is spoken by around 56% of the population as a first language and understood by around 85%) and Songhai-Zarma with around 20% have the highest number of speakers. Other national languages ​​are Tamascheq (around 8%), Fulfulde (around 8%), Kanuri (around 5%), Arabic (around 1%), Buduma , Gourmanchéma , Tasawaq and Tubu . Arabic is spoken by 3% of the population and is also used nationwide for Islamic religious education. English or German are not widely used.


The vast majority of Nigerien people profess Islam (95% in 2007) - almost all of them Sunnis from the Malikite law school - the rest of the population is divided into Christians and followers of traditional African religions .


Development of child mortality (deaths per 1000 births)
Development of life expectancy

The average life expectancy at birth is 62.4 years according to the HDI and 63.3 years according to the WHO . The infant mortality rate is high: 44 per 1,000 live births die before the first birthday, 80 before the fifth birthday. In 2004 the number of doctors in Niger was below 400. According to WHO and UNICEF, not even every second person in Niger has access to clean drinking water, a UN human right since 2010 .

Compared to other countries in Africa, AIDS is not very common in Niger. In 2019, 0.3% of the population was infected with the HI virus.

On March 19, 2020, the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Niger.

Development of life expectancy in Niger
Period Life expectancy Period Life expectancy
1950-1955 35 1985-1990 42
1955-1960 35 1990-1995 45
1960-1965 35 1995-2000 48
1965-1970 36 2000-2005 51
1970-1975 36 2005-2010 55
1975-1980 38 2010-2015 59
1980-1985 40 2015-2020 62


69.4% of Nigerians are illiterate , making the country the world's lowest literacy rate. In Niger, the mean school attendance of people over 25 increased from 0.7 years in 1990 to 2.1 in 2019. With this value, Niger ranks second to last worldwide (before Burkina Faso with 1.6 years). The expected school attendance of the current generation of pupils is 6.5 years in 2019. Here, too, Niger ranks next to last (ahead of South Sudan with 5.3 years). On average, girls at 5.7 years of age receive less schooling than boys at 7.2 years of age. Child labor is accordingly widespread.

The country has universities , including Niamey Abdou Moumouni University .


Numerous finds such as the graves of Gobero and rock carvings attest to the settlement of the Nigerien territory from the earliest times. At the time of the spread of Islam around the year 660, the peoples of Niger were already organized in states that were able to maintain an important position until the arrival of the French . In 1921 Niger became a French colony within French West Africa . The demarcation was done without taking into account the historical, cultural and linguistic circumstances. The women's suffrage was introduced 1956th The parliament elected in the elections for the Territorial Assembly on December 14, 1958 , was to give the country its own constitution. On December 18, Niger became an autonomous republic within the French Community ( Communauté française, previously Union française ). Two years later, on August 3, 1960, independence finally followed.

In 1995 a Tuareg rebellion was temporarily ended with the signing of a peace treaty. Since the government did not adhere to the points of the treaty, the conflict broke out again in early 2007 with an uprising by the Mouvement des Nigériens pour la Justice (MNJ); in August 2007, the conflict spread to the Tuareg in neighboring Mali. The background to the conflict is the Tuareg's demand to be able to use their traditional grazing land in the areas that the Niger government has given foreign companies for uranium mining.

In 1999, President Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara , who had taken political leadership in a military coup in 1996 and initiated a democratic order, was shot dead in a military coup; Daouda Malam Wanké was proclaimed president . After elections in 2000, Mamadou Tandja took over the presidency. He was confirmed in office in the 2004 elections.

The parliamentary elections of October 20, 2009 were heavily criticized in advance because President Mamadou Tandja had already had two terms in office and the constitution did not allow a third term. Because of the controversial elections, the West African Economic Community ( ECOWAS ) suspended Niger's membership.

The constitutional amendment led to a military coup on February 19, 2010. Under the junta led by Major Salou Djibo , Mamadou Tandja was overthrown and arrested. Air traffic was suspended by the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy and the national borders were closed. The constitution was repealed. As a result, the African Union temporarily suspended Niger's membership on February 20.

The first round of parliamentary and presidential elections took place on January 31, 2011. In a second ballot on March 12, 2011, Mahamadou Issoufou prevailed against Seini Oumarou with 58% of all votes cast . In the presidential elections on March 20, 2016 , Issoufou was re-elected with 92% of the vote, but the opposition had boycotted the election.


Political system

Niamey - Niger's capital

The constitution , approved in a referendum in 2010, is based on the French model as a semi-presidential system of government with direct election of the president (every five years). He is head of state and commander in chief of the armed forces and has extensive powers. He appoints and dismisses the government chaired by a prime minister . The term of office is limited to two terms.

The Presidents of the Republic of Niger:

The legislature lies with the National Assembly , a unicameral parliament with 171 members, which is also directly elected every five years. 158 MPs are elected according to proportional representation in eight multi-member constituencies, in which between 6 and 32 seats are awarded. The constituencies correspond to the seven regions and the capital Niamey. Eight seats are reserved for representatives of national minorities (one seat per constituency), five seats for the Nigerien diaspora (one seat per continent).

In the last parliamentary election on December 27, 2020 , the party of the President, the Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS Tarayya), received 80 seats and narrowly missed an absolute majority. The second strongest party was the Nigerien Democratic Movement for an African Federation (MODEN-FA Lumana Africa) by Hama Amadou with 19 seats. A total of 19 parties entered parliament.

The traditional rulers ( chefs traditionnels ) are under state control. Among other things, you take on judicial tasks at the local level.

Foreign policy

States in which Niger has set up an embassy (blue) or a consulate (light blue)

Niger tries to achieve a balanced foreign policy while maintaining good relations with all countries, since as a poor landlocked country it is dependent on cooperation with third countries in order to have a chance to improve its economic and social situation. During the Cold War , the country tried to maintain its independence and foreign policy neutrality and joined the non-aligned movement . Other important multilateral organizations of which the country is a member include: A. the African Union, ECOWAS , the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and the United Nations . Relations with neighboring countries in West Africa, the countries of the Islamic world, the United States and the People's Republic of China enjoy particular priority for Niger . The most important partner country, however, is still the former colonial power France , from which the country gained independence in 1960. The cooperation with France is based on a common history, language and close economic ties. Along with the United States, the World Bank and the IMF, France is one of the most important donors of development aid, which finances a large part of the country's government expenditure. France, on the other hand , gets most of its uranium , which is needed for its nuclear industry, from Niger. That is why the mutual relationships are of great strategic importance for both sides. In relations with the rest of the European Union and the People's Republic of China, the focus is on economic cooperation. Niger hopes for a deepening of the trade relationship, development aid and investments for the further development of the raw material deposits of the country. Close cultural relations exist with the countries of the Organization for Islamic Cooperation and the neighboring states, especially with Nigeria, in which a significant minority of the Hausa ethnic group lives, which makes up the majority of the population in Niger. Relations with the United States are primarily geared towards security cooperation. American soldiers are stationed in the country to train local troops and to combat instability in the poorly controlled regions of the country. In early 2018, four American soldiers were killed in fighting with Islamist insurgents. The US is currently (early 2019) building a drone base in the country for future missions in Africa.

State budget

The state budget included expenditures in 2016 of the equivalent of 2,250 million US dollars , which were income equivalent to 1,715 million US Dollar against. The deficit is compensated by budget support .

The national debt in 2016 was $ 3.4 billion, or 45.9% of GDP.

In 2018, the share of government expenditure (in% of GDP) was in the following areas:

Democracy and the rule of law

In the country report Freedom in the World 2020 by the US non-governmental organization Freedom House , the country is rated as “partially free” with 49 out of 100 points. In the category of “political rights” (e.g. elections, participation, functioning government) Niger receives 20 out of 40 points, and in respect of civil rights (e.g. freedom of expression and religion) the country receives 28 out of 60 points. In Niger, political liberalization has been cautious over the past few decades. However, the 2016 presidential elections were again accompanied by irregularities such as vote buying and election fraud.

In the Democracy Index 2019 of the magazine The Economist Niger is ranked 127 of 167 countries and thus remains one of the authoritarian regimes .

In 2019, Transparency International ranked 120th out of 180 countries, along with Moldova and Pakistan , in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) . Although the state tries to fight corruption, it takes place at all levels, both in the private and in the public sector, and thus represents an obstacle to development.

Administrative division

The national territory is divided into the seven regions Agadez , Diffa , Dosso , Maradi , Tahoua , Tillabéri and Zinder as well as the capital city of Niamey, which has the status of a region. The regions are further divided into 63 departments and these in turn into 254 municipalities. The four cities of Niamey, Maradi , Tahoua and Zinder are communities with special status. They are divided into arrondissements . There are also 37 urban parishes and 214 rural parishes. The lowest administrative level, some of which is only used for statistical purposes, consists of city quarters, administrative villages, traditional villages, hamlets , camps, water points and islands. Each region is headed by a governor appointed by the central government, who is assisted by a regional council as an advisory body. This corresponds to prefects and advisory departmental councils appointed at departmental level. In the municipalities, there are municipal councils with mayors at the top, determined by direct election. Parallel to the division into regions, departments and municipalities, there is the state-recognized administrative system of traditional rule ( chefferie traditionnelle ). There are five sultanates in Niger: Aïr , Damagaram , Dosso , Gobir and Katsina-Maradi . The cantons and nomadic groups are subordinate to them in the hierarchy. The simple traditional village chiefs are on the lowest level. In elections to the National Assembly, Niger is divided into eight constituencies and eight special constituencies, each of which has a fixed number of members elected.


In 2016, 19.0% of the population lived in cities or urban areas. The 5 largest cities are (as of 2012 census):

  1. Niamey : 978,029 inhabitants
  2. Maradi : 267,249 inhabitants
  3. Zinder : 235,605 inhabitants
  4. Tahoua : 117,826 inhabitants
  5. Agadez : 110,497 inhabitants



Mud brick architecture in the old town of Zinder

The houses in the cities are usually built of adobe bricks and surrounded by walled courtyards. The floor plan of a typical Hausa house allows a separation between guest and private areas and according to gender . The major cities of Agadez, Maradi, Tahoua and Zinder are known for the rich decorations on their residential buildings. The historic old town of Agadez with its traditional adobe architecture is a World Heritage Site . More recent are influences from the villa architecture of the Gulf region and the Mediterranean Revival from California . In the rural areas of Niger, the population mostly lives in grass huts, and a combination of mud brick walls with grass roofs is also common. The nomadic population lives in tents.

The Great Mosque of Agadez with its striking minaret is one of the tallest adobe buildings in the world. It is part of the architectural school of the clay mosques of Timbuktu from the 16th century. The Great Mosque of Niamey , built in the 1970s, also shapes the cityscape . A sacred building that combines traditional Hausa architecture with modern influences is the Great Mosque of Yama in Badaguichiri , which in its current form dates from the 1980s. The most important secular buildings include the palace of Zarmakoye in Dosso, built in 1904, and the sultan's palace in Zinder , built in the mid-19th century. The pavilions of the Nigerien National Museum in Niamey are decorated in the decorative Hausa style.

Crafts, fashion and body arts

A cross from Agadez
Hairstyle and jewelry of a Fulani woman from Niger

The craft has a long tradition in Niger. Ironwork of the Tuaregs make jewelry like the silver cross of Agadez ago. Leather goods and women braided mats are produced across the country . The colorful floor mats of the Kanuri from the southeast, the Hausa from the city of Madaoua and the Fulbe from the city of Say are particularly popular . The art of basket weaving is common among Tuareg and Kanuri women, while Fulani women are known for their calabashes . Pottery centers are the village of Boubon on the Niger River and the town of Mirriah in the east. A fair especially for handicrafts made by women is the Salon International de l'Artisanat pour la Femme in Niamey.

Particularly long robes for formal and festive occasions are common among all ethnic groups in the country. In men, this is the boubou . The Tuareg typically make representative clothing from cotton fabrics dyed with indigo , which is where their nickname "blue people" comes from. By from the Designer Alphadi launched Festival International de la Mode en Afrique Niger has a renowned fashion festival. Artful hairstyles play an important role, especially for women . In addition to its aesthetic function , the type of hair braiding often also serves a symbolic function that reflects the social role of the wearer. Henna decorations are common on the hands and feet of women across the country . Facial scarification , a tradition in most Nigerien cultures, is on the decline due to health risks.

Music, literature and the performing arts

Mamar Kassey , one of the most successful international music groups from Niger

Niger has a diverse, often ritually anchored and dance-related musical tradition. The traditional musical instruments of the country include the wind instruments Algaita and Kakaki , the plucked instruments Goge and Molo, and the drums Ganga , Kalangu and Tendé . In the musique tradi-Moderne appealing to broad strata of the population , elements of their own musical tradition are combined with styles and instruments of pop music . Mamar Kassey and Etran Finatawa are among the most successful bands of musique tradi-modern . An important music award for this genre is the Prix ​​Dan Gourmou . In the mid-1990s, Nigerian rap also became popular, which is also practiced by women and which often carries messages that are critical of society .

Printed literary works from Niger are mainly written in French. Well-known Nigerien writers are Ibrahim Issa , Abdoulaye Mamani , Idé Oumarou and above all Boubou Hama , after whom the national literary prize Prix ​​Boubou Hama is named. The oral literature in the national languages is common in all ethnic groups of the country. Tales in Songhai-Zarma and poetry in Tamascheq and Fulfulde are particularly popular. A caste of professional singers and poets are the griots . National languages ​​in writing are found in Islamic calligraphic works in the Ajami script and in the Tifinagh script of the Tuareg.

The joking relationships nigers included in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are featured on a variety of public occasions. Traditional theater is practiced especially among the Hausa. The Nigerien film had its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. The directors Moustapha Alassane and Oumarou Ganda deserve special mention here . Alassane's Aouré from 1962 is considered the first genuine Nigerien film .


A goalie and young spectators at a football match in Niamey

The most popular sports in Niger are soccer and the Lutte traditionnelle . The Nigerien national soccer team , called Ména , qualified for the first time in 2012 for the soccer championship of Africa . Soccer players from Niger made a name for themselves through their commitment to clubs in Europe, Cameroon and Burkina Faso. In the Lutte traditionnelle, a form of wrestling match widespread in West Africa, which is widely treated in the national media , fighters from individual villages compete against each other and are accompanied by musicians and griots.

Camel races are common in the deserts of the Agadez and Tahoua regions. Horse racing has a long tradition in the Kanuri-inhabited areas in the east of the country . Basketball , volleyball and table tennis are mainly practiced in school sports .

The only medals in the Olympic history of Niger to date were won by the boxer Issaka Daboré at the 1972 Summer Games and the Taekwondoin Abdoulrazak Issoufou Alfaga at the 2016 Summer Games . In 2005, Niamey was the host city of the 5th Francophonie Games , in which 25,000 athletes took part. The General Seyni Kountché Stadium, the largest sports facility in the country, is located in Niamey .

to eat and drink

Tea preparation in Inatès

Nigerien cuisine is based on grain, vegetables, meat and fish from the region. Millet and rice serve as staple foods . They are often made into a dough that is shaped into dumplings. Kilishi dried meat is considered a national dish of Niger. Frequently encountered is also a peanut butter - stew . For example, rice with beans and bean cake in different variations are sold as street food . The lamb dish Meschoui has established itself as the standard dish at celebratory meals . Regional differences can be seen in bread, for example. One example is the Tuareg desert flatbread, which is baked in a sand oven and eaten with sauce. Fish dishes, on the other hand, are mainly found in the Niger River Valley in the southwest.

A typical drink of Niger is bittersweet tea served in small glasses . Chilled drinking yogurt and sour milk , called solani or kossam , are sold in a variety of flavors. The popular soft drinks also include bissap , ginger and tamarind lemonade .

Holidays and celebrations

The national holiday of Niger is celebrated on December 18th. It commemorates the founding of the Republic of Niger within the French Community on December 18, 1958. On August 3, Independence Day is celebrated in memory of Hamani Diori's reading of the Declaration of Independence on that day in 1960. It coincides with Tree Day , when trees are traditionally planted across the country. Unity Day on April 24 was introduced on the occasion of the peace agreement of April 24, 1995 between the government and the rebels of the Organization of Armed Resistance .

Bridal Show Festival
Guérewol in the Ingall area (video, 58 sec)

The public holidays also include several Islamic and Christian festivals. It is common in Niger for Muslims and Christians to invite each other to their religious celebrations. In the east of the country in particular, the two-day Islamic Festival of Sacrifice is celebrated publicly on the streets with musical performances. The Cure Salée is a festival of Fulbe and Tuareg nomads after the rainy season, which is celebrated annually at Ingall . At the traditional Bridal Show Festival Guérewol of the Wodaabe , single men flaunt their beauty. The Bianou festival takes place every year in the city of Agadez .

Legal holidays
German name French name date
New Year Nouvel on January 1st
Day of unity Journée nationale de la concorde April 24th
Labor Day Fete de Travail 1st of May
Independence day Anniversaire de la proclamation de l'Indépendance 3rd August
National holiday Fête Nationale December 18th
Christmas Noël 25 December
Easter Monday Lundi de Pâques variable
Feast of Breaking the Fast Fete de fin du Ramadan variable
Festival of Sacrifice Fete de la Tabaski variable, two days
Night of determination Nuit you Destin variable
Birthday of the prophet Anniversaire de la naissance du Prophète Mahomet variable (12. Rabīʿ al-awwal )
Islamic New Year Journée correspondant au 1er jour de l'An musulman variable (10th Muharram )

Economy and Infrastructure

Oil derrick in the north of the country


The Nigerian economy achieved a gross domestic product (GDP) of 12.912 billion US dollars in 2019 . Starting from a very low value of $ 2.236 billion in 2000, GDP has grown six-fold over the past two decades. Due to the high population growth at the same time, however, GDP per capita rose only relatively slightly from 429 to 563 US dollars per capita. This makes Niger one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. 41.6% of the national income comes from agriculture , while the industrial sector accounts for only about 19.5% of the total output. The remaining 38.7% are provided by the services (as of 2017).

In 2014, the proportion of the population below the absolute poverty line (less than $ 1.90 per day) was over 44.5%.

The official unemployment rate is very low and implies full employment, but the information is not very meaningful as almost all employment is informal and underemployment is widespread. In 2012, 79.2% of all workers worked in agriculture, 17.5% in the service sector and 3.3% in industry. The total number of employees is estimated at 6.5 million for 2017.

According to the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations, Niger ranks 38th out of 52 African countries in 2020. None of the 17 goals are considered to have been achieved. With 11 goals are still major challenges to master ( major challenges remain ).

Key figures

All GDP values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).

year GDP
(purchasing power parity)
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
GDP growth
(in percent)
Public debt
(as a percentage of GDP)
1980 3.10 billion 569 4.9% 7.3% ...
1985 3.51 billion 545 7.7% −1.0% ...
1990 4.64 billion 616 −1.3% −2.0% ...
1995 4.94 billion 555 −6.6% 10.9% 91%
2000 6.29 billion 599 −2.6% 2.9% 89%
2005 9.25 billion 723 8.4% 7.8% 66%
2006 10.09 billion 762 5.8% 0.1% 27%
2007 10.69 billion 779 3.2% 0.1% 25%
2008 11.95 billion 842 9.7% 11.3% 21%
2009 11.96 billion 814 −0.7% 4.3% 28%
2010 13.11 billion 866 8.4% −2.8% 24%
2011 13.68 billion 876 2.2% 2.9% 28%
2012 15.58 billion 968 11.9% 0.5% 27%
2013 16.67 billion 1.003 2.3% 2.3% 26%
2014 18.24 billion 1,066 7.5% −0.9% 32%
2015 19.17 billion 1,086 4.0% 1.5% 41%
2016 20.39 billion 1,120 5.0% 0.2% 45%
2017 21.84 billion 1,164 5.2% 2.4% 47%


The most important export good is the uranium mined north of Agadez ( Arlit ) by the French state group Orano (formerly AREVA) , the export of which generates 70% of total exports. Niger is the largest African uranium producer and the fifth largest in the world. It supplies 40% of France's uranium needs. Meanwhile, China is also showing increased interest in the Nigerien uranium deposits.

On December 18, 2008, the head of the French nuclear company, Anne Lauvergeon, traveled to Niamey to negotiate the mining license for the Imouraren uranium deposits with President Mamadou Tandja . Imouraren is approximately 80 kilometers south of the previous Arlit mining area. After tough price wars, Tandja negotiated a state stake of 33.5% in the new uranium project. The mining license includes a 50% increase in Niger revenues over Arlit's previous uranium mining revenues. The Imouraren opencast mine should not go into operation before 2020 . According to the company, it would be one of the largest uranium mines in the world with an output of 3,000 to 8,000 tons per year.

In the Liptako region on the border with Burkina Faso, gold has been mined in the Samira mine since 2004 , the second most important export good. Occurrences have also been discovered in Djado in the north of the country .

Niger has also been one of the petroleum exporting countries since 2011. After oil was discovered on the border with Algeria , the Chinese company China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) was awarded the contract to exploit it. The country's first oil refinery was built in Zinder , in which CNPS owns 60% of the shares and the Nigerien state 40%. In 2020, the construction of a pipeline to the coast of Benin began.

After coal was discovered in the Tahoua region in 2012 , the government announced the construction of a 600 megawatt coal power plant. This should be realized with the help of the American group Source California Services Inc. However, since the implementation was delayed again and again, the state turned to the China Exim-Bank .

Other raw materials that are mined and processed in Niger are phosphate , gypsum and lime .

Food supply

The Kaouar Valley near Bilma in eastern Niger

The following points are considered to be the cause of the recurring catastrophic famines in the country, especially in the Filingué , Dakoro and Téra departments inhabited by shepherd families :

The famines are one of the reasons for the increased incidence of the noma disease in Niger. According to studies, 14 sick people are counted for every 100,000 inhabitants.


In the Nigerian Sahara region , irrigated agriculture is only possible in oases , for example in the Aïr Mountains . Only the narrow strip along the Nigerian border is in the Sahel zone and is therefore suitable for rain-fed agriculture. The rainy season is extremely short, just under three to four months. In addition, the rainy season is characterized by a high degree of variability in rainfall: regionally, different downpours can fall just as strongly as the temporal distribution of rain during the rainy season can be very uneven.

The main crops are various types of millet, as well as beans and peanuts. Vegetables, henna , capsicum species and tobacco , among other things, are only grown in irrigation in dry river basins . Mobile capital consists of herds of small cattle that are first marketed in times of need and then consumed. The country is the second largest millet producer in the world (as of 2016).

Means of production today are the individualized ownership of land as well as the seeds acquired by the common household, which may have to be bought in cooperatives. This happens when the seeds are consumed instead of planted due to food shortages. With state cooperatives or wealthy traders, the farmers sometimes also get into debt by buying insecticides and fertilizers.

The tools used are those of largely non-mechanized agriculture: the short-handled hoe and a long- handled weeding iron ( Kanuri : ashasha ). Ox-drawn plows are usually owned by wealthy farmers who are mostly identical to the local aristocracy. The majority of the farmers have no access to this.

The pre-colonial social structure provides for the common use of the land by an extended family, a gandu ( Hausa : household). Individual ownership of land was largely unknown. Since the colonial era, individual ownership of land has been established through the consolidation of family ownership claims and the increasing marketing of land. Population pressure led to land shortages. Division of inheritance led to the fragmentation of land holdings. Individual plots can hardly support a (small) family today.

Another problem is the large-scale deforestation for the production of fuel, as well as the almost complete removal of plant material after the harvest, so that on the one hand arable land is no longer protected from solar radiation and on the other hand there is no fertilization effect due to rotting plant material. The soils are impoverished. This problem has been countered with systematic greening since the mid-1980s. Planting the acacia Faidherbia albida was particularly helpful . By 2006, 3 million hectares of land could be greened, of which 250,000 hectares can already be used for agriculture again. In these areas, rainfall increased by 10 to 20% between 1982 and 1999.

The long dry season necessitates a storage system that was socially and religiously sanctioned in pre-colonial times. This storage was closely tied to the pre-colonial structure of households, their work and consumption structure. With the fragmentation of households and the individualization of land ownership, especially since decolonization, these pre-colonial redistribution structures have been dissolved. Today's (small) families can hardly fall back on a network of familial and neighborly solidarity structures, especially in view of the general pressure on the ecologically fragile climatic zone.

Media and telecommunications

With a generator outdoors-operated satellite TV in Inates

In the Press Freedom Index 2020 , Reporters Without Borders Niger place went to 57 out of 180 countries. The non-governmental organization judges the situation of press freedom in the country to be "recognizably problematic", although it is one of the more permissive in Africa. A journalist is currently in custody in Niger.

Radio is the most significant among the country's mass media . The proportion of Nigerien households with a radio set rose from 37.3% in 1994 to 55% in 2005. During the same period, the proportion of households with a television set rose from 5.2% to 6.8%. The circulation and reach of print products are low, especially outside the capital. In the history of the independent country with its changing forms of government, freedom of the press has repeatedly been subject to restrictions. The state broadcaster ORTN operates the radio station Voix du Sahel and the television programs Télé Sahel and Tal TV . There are 31 private radio stations and 121 local community radio stations across the country . The four Nigerien private television channels Bonférey TV , Canal 3 TV , Dounia TV and Ténéré TV are based in Niamey. The daily newspaper Le Sahel and the weekly newspaper Sahel Dimanche are published by the Nigerien government. The Official Journal of the Republic is the Journal officiel de la République du Niger . A number of private print media are also published.

In 2016, the internet was used by only 2.1% of all residents aged 15 and over. The country-specific top-level domain Nigers is .ne . The telecommunications company SONITEL and several foreign licensees are competing in the market for mobile phone network operators . In 2008, 19.9% ​​of all Nigerians aged 15 and over used mobile phones; in the capital Niamey and in the sparsely populated and impassable region of Agadez, the figure was more than half. Very few people in Niger have their own landline .


The infrastructure of Niger has been significantly expanded in recent years. The road network, for example, has almost doubled since 2005 to 18,949 km, including 3912 km of paved roads. The country also has a total of 27 airports, ten of which have paved runways. The Niger River is navigable over a length of 300 km. A railway connection to Benin is under construction.


  • Abdourahmane Idrissa, Samuel Decalo (Ed.): Historical Dictionary of Niger. 4th edition. Scarecrow Press, Lanham MD 2012.
  • Thomas Krings , Sahelländer, WBG-Länderkunden, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft Darmstadt, 2006, ISBN 3-534-11860-X .
  • Cornelia Nicodemus: Indigenous Food Storage and Colonial Crisis Prevention Policy. Forced storage and Sociétés Indigènes de Prévoyance in the colony of Niger after 1932 . Lang, Frankfurt 2000, ISBN 3-631-36578-0 .
  • Mano Dayak : Born with sand in his eyes: the autobiography of a leader of the Tuareg rebels . Unionsverlag, Zurich 1997, ISBN 3-293-00237-4 .
  • Holger Weiss: Babban Yunwa. Hunger and Society in Northern Nigeria and the Neighboring Regions in the Early Colonial Era . Helsinki 1997.
  • Boureima Alpha Gado: Une histoire des famines au Sahel. Étude des grandes crises alimentaires (XIX-XXe siècles) . Paris 1993.
  • Polly Hill: Population, Prosperity and Poverty. Rural Kano 1900 and 1970 . Cambridge 1977.
  • Guy Nicolas: Dynamique et appréhension du monde au sein d´une société haoussa . Paris 1975.
  • Claude Raynaut: Structures normatives et relations électives. Étude d´une communauté villageoise haoussa . Paris 1972.

Web links

Wiktionary: Niger  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Niger  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Niger  - geographical and historical maps
Wikivoyage: Niger  - Travel Guide

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Coordinates: 16 °  N , 10 °  E