Niger

Niger

Facts & figures

Full name: The Republic of Niger

Population: 16.6 million (UN, 2012)

Capital: Niamey

Area: 1.27 million sq km (489,000 sq miles)

Major languages: French (official), Arabic, Hausa, Songha

Major religions: Islam, indigenous beliefs

Life expectancy: 55 years (men), 56 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes

Main exports: Uranium, livestock products

GNI per capita: US $360 (World Bank, 2011)

Internet domain: .ne

International dialling code: +227




Map

 

Leader

President: Mahamadou Issoufou

Veteran opposition leader Mahamadou Issoufou was declared winner of the March 2011 presidential polls held to end a year-long military junta. He was sworn in on April 6.

In his fifth shot at the country's top job, the 59-year-old leader of the Social Democratic Party won 58 percent of the vote.






Travel

Visa & travel advice

  • Best period

Considering that Niger is one of the hottest countries in Africa, it is best to plan your trip according to what kind of heat you think you can handle. Niger has two seasons: the rainy season lasts from June to September, and the majority of rainfall occurs between June and August. The dry season, between October and May, tends to be dryer and cooler. We recommend traveling between December and February.

Two festivals, the Cure Salee and the Wodaabe Gerewol, are among the world’s most colorful and exciting, and we recommend checking their dates before you plan your trip to Niger.

  • Safety

Foreigners should avoid the border of Mali, owing to the lack of security around the area. As always, be aware of your surroundings.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation has created a security ratings system called the Ibrahim Index, wherein scores are based on each country’s quality of government. Before traveling to Niger or anywhere on the continent, check the index and do your research.

 

History

The nomadic Tuaregs were the first inhabitants in the Sahara region. The Hausa (14th century), Zerma (17th century), Gobir (18th century), and Fulani (19th century) also established themselves in the region now called Niger.

Niger was incorporated into French West Africa in 1896. There were frequent rebellions, but when order was restored in 1922, the French made the area a colony. In 1958, the voters approved the French constitution and voted to make the territory an autonomous republic within the French Community. The republic adopted a constitution in 1959 but the next year withdrew from the Community, proclaiming its independence.


Arts & Culture

  • Music :

The music of Niger has developed from the musical traditions of a mix of ethnic groups; Hausa, the Zarma Songhai people, Tuareg, Fula Kanuri, Toubou, Diffa Arabs and Gurma.

Most traditions existed quite independently in French West Africa but have begun to form a mixture of styles since the 1960s. While Niger's popular music has had little international attention (in comparison with the music of neighbors Mali or Nigeria), traditional and new musical styles have flourished since the end of the 1980s.

 

  • Literature

If Nigerian literature is not very provided, it is not less beautiful quality. The great author of the Niger is without doubt the leading researcher, teacher and politician - he was for a long time president of the National Assembly of Niger - Boubou Hama (1906-1982).

Among contemporary novelists, include Siyamak Kanta (the uprooted, 1972), Ide Oumarou (close-up, 1977), Amadou Ousmane (15 years, enough is enough, 1977) and Abdoulaye Mamani (which it should be noted the remarkable Sarraounia, 1980.) On the side of poetry, Abdoulaye Houdou published in various journals of the Sahelian missing no interest, and calligrapher Hawad explores nomadism in a series of beautiful poems written in the language of the Tuareg (Caravan of thirst, 1985).

Also note Mahamadou Haider (whims of fate, 1981) and Amadou IBI (the straitjacket of straw, 1987), also a poet (unfinished Cri, 1984).

 

  • Famous monuments

Emir's palace

Kaouar Cliffs

Agadez mosque

 

  • Architecture history

Despite growing migration to the towns and the recent growth of the capital city, Niger remains overwhelmingly rural. Outside the capital city, architecture and the use of space reflect traditional regional and sedentarized-nomadic differences. In both rural and urban areas, architecture also reflects social stratification. Throughout much of the rural south, west, and east, there are adobe mud houses and a few concrete tin-roofed houses of functionaries and teachers. In much of the rural north, there are semi-sedentarized nomadic camps with tents of various materials (grass, animal hides) interspersed with adobe mud houses. Tents have portable walls, which are removed and transported for nomadic migration with herds. The greater degree of sedentarization in a community, the more common the adobe mud houses. In semi-nomadic Tuareg communities, women build and own the tent and men build and own the adobe house. In the tent, there is gender-based symbolism: for example, the left side of the interior of a Tuareg tent is associated with the married woman owner and her belongings and the right side is associated with her husband. As houses become more common as a result of sedentarization, there are corresponding changes in property relations between the sexes. In many communities, mosques are surrounded by the homes of traditionally aristocratic, chiefly, and Islamic scholar families. Homes of families of traditionally lower or ambiguous status are located farther from the mosque and its surrounding neighborhood. Another important feature in the countryside is the widespread opposition between the settled community (village or camp) and the wild. There is the idea of the settled community as a human habitation and center of civilization, as opposed to the unsettled, wild areas surrounding it that are believed to be inhabited by spirits. People are believed to be vulnerable to the influence of the spirits of the wild on certain specified occasions, such as during life transitions or during travel. The spirits of the "wild" spaces must be controlled before people engage in activities that alter their domain. In Niamey, most families' houses also tend to be of the standard adobe mud type, usually rented, although there is variation according to nationality and socioeconomic class. Many Europeans in Niamey inhabit buildings locally called "villas," that are made of concrete and often have running water, electricity, and air-conditioning. In Niamey there have been increasing gaps between the standard of living, income, and comfort of most Nigeriens and that of many foreign residents. Europeans and a few well-to-do Africans tend to reside in neighborhoods high on a hill, called the Plateau, and near the river in European-colonial concrete villas and Western-style apartments.



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