Fast Facts

Population:
13,957,000
Capital:
Niamey; 890,000
Area:
1,267,000 square kilometers (489,191 square miles)
Language:
French, Hausa, Djerma
Religion:
Muslim, indigenous beliefs, Christian
Currency:
CFA franc
Life Expectancy:
45
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $800
Literacy Percent:
18
Flag: Niger
Map: Niger

Landlocked in the west of Africa, Niger uses the Niger River as a link to the distant sea. Most people live in the southern savanna region; the north is consumed by the Sahara. This crossroads of ancient trading empires became a French colony in 1922 and gained independence in 1960. Military coups and governments occurred between 1974 and 1999—free elections in 1999 restored democracy. Economic problems have been exacerbated by falling world demand for uranium, the country's most valuable resource. At the mercy of drought and desertification, Niger relies on foreign aid.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Uranium mining, cement, brick, textiles
  • Agriculture: Cowpeas, cotton, peanuts, millet; cattle
  • Exports: Uranium ore, livestock, cowpeas, onions

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

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