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Niger Geography - History

Niger Geography - History

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Niger is located in Western Africa, southeast of Algeria.The terrain of Niger is predominately desert plains and sand dunes; flat to rolling plains in south; hills in northClimate: Niger is desert; mostly hot, dry, dusty; tropical in extreme south

What You Should Know About Nigeria

Mariano Sayno / husayno.com

  • M.A., Geography, California State University - East Bay
  • B.A., English and Geography, California State University - Sacramento

Nigeria is a country located in West Africa along the Atlantic Ocean's Gulf of Guinea. Its land borders are with Benin to the west, Cameroon, and Chad to the east and Niger to the north. Nigeria's main ethnic groups are Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba. It is the most populous country in Africa and its economy is considered one of the fastest growing in the world. Nigeria is known for being the regional center of West Africa.

Fact Facts: Nigeria

  • Official Name: Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • Capital: Abuja
  • Population: 203,452,505 (2018)
  • Official Language: English
  • Currency: Naira
  • Form of Government: Federal presidential republic
  • Climate: Equatorial in south, tropical in center, arid in north
  • Total Area: 356,669 square miles (923,768 square kilometers)
  • HighestPoint: Chappal Waddi at 7,934 feet (2,419 meters)
  • Lowest Point: Atlantic Ocean at 0 feet (0 meters)




There is growing interest in population issues in the Sahel because of the relationship between population growth, the environment and its various components, political governance and economic and social development.

Setting aside the chatter generated by current events and agreed institutional stances, beyond popular opinion and theoretical or even ideological positions, what exactly is the situation in the Sahel? It is this, among other questions, that this documents attempts to answer.

Origin and nature of the study

Dealt with separately, demography, peace and security are problematic notions because there are so many different possible interpretations of them. And yet even more questions arise when they are approached together as a whole the meaning and intensity of the interrelationships between the three notions are then a vast subject for debate. These problems are amplified in the context of the Sahel because there are several approaches in play that focus on demographics, economics or political relationships, as well as a holistic approach.

Regardless of the prevailing trends, however, the issue of demography, peace and security is crucial for several reasons, three of which are worth highlighting.

(1) First, and as indicated in the preceding paragraph, because of the different interpretations of the constituent notions, a certain ambiguity surrounds their uses and meanings

(2) Second, because this issue is the Achilles heel of African development today. Africa is now a continent where peace has become an issue as well as a major challenge, judging by the presence of United Nations peace missions as such, the problems of governance, and therefore of peace and security are, in the opinion of many Africans,3 among the most urgent to tackle because they hinder development.

(3) This issue will be even more crucial in the years to come because, if the trends observed in the Sahel continue, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) pursued by the international community will be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. Indeed, sustainable and inclusive development cannot be expected if disparities and inequalities, far from diminishing, are actually growing, and if the political economy is dominated by short-term considerations and interests.

Clearing the ground and better understanding the problem is therefore an imperative for those who wish to act as strategists, i.e. to participate in the construction of a future which, in accordance with the ambitions of the African Union&rsquos Agenda 2063 and other frames of reference, focuses on development that is &ldquocentred on citizens, reliant on people&rsquos potential, especially with regard to women and young people, and taking care of children&rdquo.

Against this background, UNFPA has decided to embark on a process of reflection, the aims of which are set out in the attached terms of reference.

Where is Nigeria?

Nigeria is a West African country located in the Northern and Eastern Hemispheres of the Earth. It is bordered by four countries. These are Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Benin to the north, northeast, east, and west respectively. Nigeria also has a coastline on the Gulf of Guinea.

Nigeria Bordering Countries: Cameroon, Chad, The Niger, Benin.

Regional Maps: Map of Africa

Niger has borders with Libya and Algeria to the north, Chad to the east, Nigeria and Benin to the south, and Mali and Burkina Faso to the west. The capital, Niamey, stands on the north bank of the Niger River and has long been a major trading centre on this important navigable waterway. The river meanders for 500km (300 miles) through the southwestern corner of the country.

To the east is a band of semi-arid bush country along the border with Nigeria, shrinking by 20km (12 miles) every year as over-grazing claims more land for the Ténéré Desert, which already occupies over half of Niger. This desert is divided by a range of low mountains, Aïr ou Azbine, in the eastern foothills of which lies the city of Agadez. Surrounded by green valleys and hot springs amid semi-desert, this regional capital is still a major terminus for Saharan caravans. The desert to the west of the mountains is a stony plain hosting seasonal pastures to the north and west are mostly vast expanses of sand. There is arable land beside Lake Chad in the extreme southeastern corner of the country.

The Hausa people live along the border with Nigeria and most are farmers. The Songhai and Djerma people live in the Niger valley and exist by farming and fishing. The nomadic Fulani have spread all over the Sahel. The robed and veiled Tuaregs once dominated the southern cities the few who remain are camel herders and caravanners on the Saharan routes. The Manga (or Kanun) live near Lake Chad and are well known for their colourful ceremonies in which pipes and drums accompany slow, stately dancing.


The northern desert has vegetation only after rare rainfalls. The savanna includes a vast variety of herbaceous vegetation, with such trees as bastard mahogany, kapok, baobab, and the shea tree (karit é ). There are antelope, lion, waterbuck, leopard, hyena, monkey, wart hog, and countless varieties of bird and insect life. In the Niger River are crocodiles, hippopotamuses, and sometimes manatee. Turtles, lizards, pythons, horned vipers, and other varieties of snakes abound. As of 2002, there were at least 131 species of mammals, 125 species of birds, and over 1,450 species of plants throughout the country.

Why Is the Niger River Important to Africa?

The Niger is an important river in Africa because it is the principal river in Western Africa and provides an invaluable water source in the Sahara Desert. It’s two fertile deltas provide critical water sources and wetlands to an otherwise very dry region.

The Niger starts in eastern Guinea and travels Northeast, away from the coast, into Mali and the Sahara Desert. Here the river forms into an unusual inland delta, which provides an important area of bogs, marshes and lakes in the middle of the otherwise waterless Sahara. The seasonal floods in this region support fishing and agricultural industries.

The Niger takes a turn South from Mali, and flows into Niger, Benin and finally Nigeria, where it empties in the Gulf of Guinea, also creating a fertile delta there. This bend in Mali, at Timbuktu, is a most peculiar river formation, and was created by the merging of the upper and lower Niger rivers (at one time separate rivers) via erosion.

Two dams in Nigeria, the Kainji and Jebba dams, use the river to generate hydroelectric power. It is estimated that the river is being underutilized as far as irrigation, with Nigeria and Mali both using under half of the potential hectares available, as seen by the Food and Agriculture Organization. Dam rehabilitation projects have been planned in Nigeria, and new dam construction has been proposed in Mali.

As the only major river in Western Africa, the Niger is critical to West Africa’s agriculture, power and shipping.


Shinkafa: Dense balls of pounded rice served with meat and vegetable stews.
Tattabara: Flame-grilled flattened whole pigeon.
Deguidegui: Tomato stew often served with a mix of spaghetti and macaroni known as maka.
Brochettes: Chunks of beef or mutton placed on a skewer and cooked over an open fire. Most commonly found in Hausa country and the nomadic regions of the north.
Laban: A branded frozen yogurt drink especially popular in the hotter months.
Dodo: Deep-fried slices of plantain.
Palm nut soup: A typical West African dish is ever there was one.
Salaat: Often beginning a meal, colourful salads are made from seasonal vegetables such as lettuce and tomatoes.
Foura: Small balls of ground and slightly fermented millet crushed with milk, sugar and spices.
Ogbono: Also called the bush mango, the tree produces flavour-filled fruit and nuts.
Tea: Ubiquitous drink in Niger, it quenches the thirst of millions of residents daily.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. In general, labor is divided in Nigerian society along gender lines. Very few women are active in the political and professional arenas. In urban areas, increasing numbers of women are becoming involved in the professional workforce, but they are greatly outnumbered by their male counterparts. Women who do manage to gain professional employment rarely make it into the higher levels of management.

However, women in Nigeria still play significant roles in the economy, especially in rural areas. Women are often expected to earn significant portions of the family income. As a rule, men have little obligation to provide for their wives or children. Therefore women have traditionally had to farm or sell homemade products in the local market to ensure that they could feed and clothe their children. The division of labor along gender lines even exists within industries. For example, the kinds of crops that women cultivate differ from those that men cultivate. In Igbo society, yams are seen as men's crops, while beans and cassava are seen as women's crops.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. Modern Nigeria is a patriarchal society. Men are dominant over women in virtually all areas. While Nigeria is a signatory to the international Convention on Equality for Women, it means little to the average Nigerian woman. Women still have fewer legal rights than men. According to Nigeria's Penal Code, men have the right to beat their wives as long as they do not cause permanent physical injury. Wives are often seen as little more than possessions and are subject to the rule of their husbands.

However, women can exercise influence in some areas. For example, in most ethnic groups, mothers and sisters have great say in the lives of their sons and brothers, respectively. The blood relationship allows these women certain leeway and influence that a wife does not have.


No-one knows the origin of the name Niger. Many people think that it comes from the Latin word for "black", niger, but there is no evidence for this, and Portuguese explorers would probably have used their own word (negro) on their maps. Also, the Niger is not a blackwater river (see Rio Negro). Some people think that 'black' may mean the color of the people in this area, but this did not happen with any other river in Africa.

Therefore, most people think the name is from the original people of the area in the middle of the river where early European maps used the name "Quorra". One possibility is the Tuareg phrase gher n gheren "river of rivers", shortened to ngher or "niger", from the middle of the river near Timbuktu.

The Tabula Peutingeriana says "Flumen Girin" (River Girin) and "Hoc flumen quidam Grin vocant, alii Nilum appellant dicint enim sub terra Etyopium in Nilum ire Lacum.", which means "This river which some are naming Grin is called Nile by others and is thought to flow under the ground of Ethiopia (i.e. modern Africa) into the Nile Lake."

Nigeria and Niger take their names from the river. The people who live beside the river have many names for it, such as Jeliba or Joliba ("great river" in Manding), Isa Ber ("big river" in Songhay), Oya, (a Yoruba River Niger goddess), and Kworra or Quorra. The last name was the name that Europeans used for the lower part of the river before they knew that the upper and lower parts were connected.

The Niger River is quite a clear river. It has only 10% as much sediment as the Nile because the Niger's source is in very old rocks that have little silt. [4] Like the Nile, the Niger River has a flood every year this starts in September, becomes strongest in November, and finishes by May. [5]

An unusual feature of the river is the Niger Inland Delta. This forms where the river suddenly becomes less steep. [5] This makes a region of connected streams, marshes, and lakes over an amount of land the same size as Belgium. The yearly floods make the delta very good for fishing and farming. [6]

The Niger takes an unusual route. It is a boomerang shape and this confused Europeans for 2000 years. Its source is only 240 km (150 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean, but the river flows away from the sea into the Sahara Desert, then turns near the ancient city of Timbuktu (Tombouctou). From here, it goes southeast to the Gulf of Guinea.

Ancient Romans thought that the river near Timbuktu was part of the Nile River and Ibn Battuta had the same opinion. Early 17th-century European explorers thought that it flowed west and joined the Sénégal River. Many local people probably knew the real route, but Europeans only knew it in the late 19th century, when it was mentioned in the book Travels in the Interior of Africa by the Scottish explorer Mungo Park. This unusual route happened because the Niger River is two ancient rivers which are joined together. The upper Niger, from the source, past Timbuktu, to the bend in the river, used to empty into a lake, but the lake has now gone. However, the lower Niger started in hills near the lake and flowed south into the Gulf of Guinea. The Sahara Desert dried up in 4000-1000 BC, and the two rivers changed their routes and they joined (some people disagree, but most people think this is true).

The northern part of the river, which is called the Niger bend, is important because it is the Sahara Desert's closest big river. Therefore, trade across the west of the Sahara came here, and it became the center of the Sahelian kingdoms of Mali and Gao.

Watch the video: Niger GeographyNiger RegionsMarble Race Effect (May 2022).