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  • Counter :
  • 4078
  • Date :
  • 8/16/2003

NIGER

Not until 1993, 35 years after independence from France, did Niger hold its first free and open elections. A 1995 peace accord ended a five-year Tuareg insurgency in the north. Coups in 1996 and 1999 were followed by the creation of a National Reconciliation Council that effected a transition to civilian rule by December 1999

Geography

Location: Northern Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Senegal and Western Sahara

Geographic coordinates:16 00 N, 8 00 E

Area:total: 1.267 million sq km
water: 300 sq km
land: 1,266,700 sq km

Coastline:0 km (landlocked)
Climate:
desert; mostly hot, dry, dusty; tropical in extreme south

PEOPLE

Population:10,639,744 (July 2002 est.)

Population growth rate:2.7% (2002 est.)

Sex ratio: at birth: 1.03 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female ;15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female;65 years and over: 1.1 male(s)/female
 Nationality:noun: Nigerien(s)
adjective: Nigerien

Ethnic groups:Hausa 56%, Djerma 22%, Fula 8.5%, Tuareg 8%, Beri Beri (Kanouri) 4.3%, Arab, Toubou, and Gourmantche 1.2%, about 1,200 French expatriate
Languages:
French (official), Hausa, Djerma

ECONOMY

Niger is a poor, landlocked Sub-Saharan nation, whose economy centers on subsistence agriculture, animal husbandry, reexport trade, and increasingly less on uranium, because of declining world demand. The 50% devaluation of the West African franc in January 1994 boosted exports of livestock, cowpeas, onions, and the products ofNiger's small cotton industry. The government relies on bilateral and multilateral aid - which was suspended following the April 1999 coup d'etat - for operating expenses and public investment. In 2000-01, the World Bank approved a structural adjustment loan of $105 million to help support fiscal reforms. However, reforms could prove difficult given the government's bleak financial situation. The IMF approved a $73 million poverty reduction and growth facility for Niger in 2000 and announced $115 million in debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative.

Industries:uranium mining, cement, brick, textiles, food processing, chemicals, slaughterhouses

COMMUNICATIONS

Telephones main lines in use:20,000 (2001)

Telephones - mobile cellular:6,700 (2002)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 5, FM 6, shortwave 4 (2001)
Radios
:680,000 (1997)

Television broadcast stations:3 (plus seven low-power repeaters) (2002)

Televisions:125,000 (1997)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2002)

Internet users:12,000 (2002)

TRANSPORTATION

Railways:0 km (2002)
Highways:total: 10,100 km ;paved: 798 km ;unpaved: 9,302 km (1996)
Waterways:300 km
note: theNiger River is navigable fromNiamey to Gaya on the Benin frontier from mid-December through March
Airports:26 (2001)

GOVERNMENT

Country name:

Conventional long form:Republic ofNiger
conventional short form: Niger
local short form:Niger
local long form: Republique du Niger

Government type:republic

Capital:Niamey

Administrative divisions:7 departments (departements, singular - departement) and 1 capital district* (capitale district); Agadez, Diffa, Dosso, Maradi, Niamey*, Tahoua, Tillaberi, Zinder

Independence: 3 August 1960 (from France)

Constitution:the constitution of January 1993 was revised by national referendum on 12 May 1996 and again by referendum on 18 July 1999

Legal system:based on French civil law system and customary law; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Mamadou TANDJA (since 22 December 1999); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government
head of government: President Mamadou TANDJA (since 22 December 1999); note - the president is both chief of state and head of government; Prime Minister Hama AMADOU (since 31 December 1999) was appointed by the president and shares some executive responsibilities with the president
cabinet: 23-member Cabinet appointed by the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term; last held 24 November 1999 (next to be held NA 2004); prime minister appointed by the president
election results: Mamadou TANDJA elected president; percent of vote - Mamadou TANDJA 59.9%, Mahamadou ISSOUFOU 40.1%
Judicial branch
:State Court or Cour d'Etat; Court of Appeal or Cour d'Appel
Political parties and leaders:
Democratic Rally of the People-Jama'a or RDP-Jama'a [Hamid ALGABID]; Democratic and Social Convention-Rahama or CDS-Rahama [Mahamane OUSMANE]; National Movement for a Developing Society-Nassara or MNSD-Nassara [Mamadou TANDJA, chairman]; Nigerien Alliance for Democracy and Social Progress-Zaman Lahiya or ANDPS-Zaman Lahiya [Moumouni Adamou DJERMAKOYE]; Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism-Tarayya or PNDS-Tarayya [Mahamadou ISSOUFOU]; Union of Democratic Patriots and Progressives-Chamoua or UPDP-Chamoua [Professor Andre' SALIFOU, chairman]

RELIGIONS

Muslim 80%, remainder indigenous beliefs and Christian

Most of the Nigeriens are Muslims. Men and sometimes women dress in white to visit a mosque on Friday afternoon to pray and worship. Women who go to mosque pray in a different area, but most pray at home or in the fields. Hausa land and the east are more conservative than the west. Children memorize Arabic verses written with charcoal on wooden boards at local Koranic schools. Islam plays a key role in major life events such as naming ceremonies (for 7-day-old babies) and funerals. Animist practices are often mixed with Islamic rites, primarily in villages. A few cities have Christian churches.

HISTORY

The first recognizable empire in the region was the Kanem-Bornu Empire that flourished between the 10th and 13th century, and again briefly in the 16th. This was about the same time that the Hausa clans were moving fromNigeria into Niger, followed quickly by the Djerma, descendants of the Songhaï. Sultans from these clans carved out empires for themselves, making a killing on the lucrative trade routes, with gold and by providing an endless supply of subjects for the slave trade. Niger remained the exclusive province of the sultans until 1898, when the French stormed the country with all the subtlety and finesse of a sledgehammer, and added yet another name to their list of colonized countries.A strange economic turnabout occurred at the end of the 19th century when drought caused a bullish market for salt and the seasoning became, quite literally, worth its weight in gold.
By the end of the 1950s, when colonization started to get a bit whiffy on the ideological nose, de Gaulle offered a sop to the West African colonies in the form of self-government in a French Union, or independence, knowing full well that independence would spell economic disaster for countries propped up by French-owned infrastructures.Although the original vote was for self-government, the next two years saw a lot of political argument between the government and a number of disenchanted parties agitating for full independence. When Niger finally gained full independence in 1960, Hamani Diori was elected president unopposed, and, with help from a sympathetic French administration, remained in political power until the droughts of '73 and '74. The droughts that affected most of the sub-Sahel countries knocked Niger for six years and, even today, the country has not fully recovered from its effects. When food stockpiles were found in the homes of Diori's ministers during the drought, it marked the end of Diori's rule. A bloody coup ensued and Senyi Kountché, a military officer, was put in the driver's seat.
In 1991, at a specially convened conference, Saibou was stripped of his power, a new constitution was drafted, and an interim government was elected to run the country until the multiparty elections of 1992. Mohamane Ousmane, the winner of thiselection, set about restoring good relations with the Tuareg, but the Tuareg remained understandably suspicious and intransigent after so many false promises. Finally, in 1993 a kind of peace was brokered between the two sides, but the peace remained highly-strung. In 1996 Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara took over as president, and the country reverted to its pre-treaty shambolic state, with workers' strikes, threatened military actions, political unrest, banditry, widespread poverty, and Tuareg rebellions breaking out all over the place.
In April 1999, Nigerien politics reached Machiavellian heights when President Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara was gunned down by his own body guard, Daouda Malam Wanke, an event that the Prime Minister was to optimistically label an 'unfortunate accident'. Shortly after the 'unfortunate accident' an interim government was formed, headed by the very same Daouda Malam Wanke. This brutal act of political expediency alienated the French who threatened to withdraw aid unlessNiger rethought its position on 'election procedures' and 'unfortunate accidents' and tried using ballot boxes rather than bullets. Wanke quickly set about a return to democratic rule with peaceful elections in October and November 1999, at which Tandja Mamadou was elected with over 59% of the vote. In the 83-seat National Assembly (only one of whose MPs is a woman), Mamadou forged a coalition majority with supporters of former President Ousmane.

Taken from:


http://www.usask.ca/nursing/International/niger/people.htm
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/africa/mauritania/history.htm
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