Portal:Niger

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Flag of Niger
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Niger (/ˈnər/ or /nˈʒɛər/; French pronunciation: ​[niʒɛʁ]), officially named 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, over 80 percent of which is covered by the Sahara desert. The country's population of just above 15,000,000 is mostly clustered in the far south and west of the nation. The capital city is Niamey.

Niger is a developing country. 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, poor education, infrastructure, health care, deserts, poverty and environmental degradation.

Nigerien society reflects a great 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, but have maintained elected multiparty rule since 1999. The vast majority of the population practice Islam. A majority also live in rural areas, and have little access to advanced education.

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Aïr Mountains
Credit: Jacques Taberlet

The Aïr Mountains, Niger.

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Lehnert Landrock - Ouled Naïl Girl - Algeria - 1905.jpg

Berbers are the indigenous peoples of North Africa west of the Nile Valley. They are discontinuously distributed from the Atlantic to the Siwa oasis, in Egypt, and from the Mediterranean to the Niger River. Historically they spoke various Berber languages, which together form a branch of the Afro-Asiatic language family. Today many of them speak Arabic and also French in the Maghreb, due to the French colonization of the Maghreb, and especially Spanish in Morocco. Today most Berber-speaking people live in Morocco and Algeria, becoming generally scarcer eastward through the rest of the Maghreb and beyond. The largest concentration of Berbers (about 85% of them) is found in Morocco.

Many Berbers call themselves some variant of the word Imazighen (singular: Amazigh), possibly meaning "free people" (the word has probably an ancient parallel in the Roman name for some of the Berbers, "Mazices").

The best known of the ancient Berbers were the Roman author Apuleius, Saint Augustine of Hippo and the Roman general Lusius Quietus, who was instrumental in defeating the major Jewish revolt of 115–117. Well known modern Berbers include Zinedine Zidane, a French born and international football star, considered one of the greatest players of his generation.

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Montagnes Bleus1.jpg
Credit: Jacques Taberlet

The Blue Mountains in the north eastern part of the Aïr Mountains in Niger.

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Tandja in Nigeria June 2007.jpg

Tandja Mamadou (born 1938) is a Nigerien politician who was the President of Niger from 1999 to 2010. He was President of the National Movement of the Development Society (MNSD) from 1991 to 1999 and unsuccessfully ran as the MNSD's presidential candidate in 1993 and 1996 before being elected to his first term in 1999. While serving as President of Niger, he was also Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States from 2005 to 2007.

President Tandja is of mixed Fula and Kanuri ancestry. He was the first President of Niger to not be ethnically Hausa or Djerma. Following a constitutional crisis in 2009, which was caused by Tandja's efforts to remain in office beyond the originally scheduled end of his term, he was ousted by the military in a coup d'etat in February 2010.

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