Niger Information

General Information for Niger

Country: Niger
Location: West Africa
Independence: August 3, 1960
Nationality: Nigerien
Capital City: Niamey
Population: 9,280,208
Important Cities: Maradi, Zinder, Agadez
Head of State: Ibrahim Bare Manaissara
Area: 1,267,000
Type of Government: Military
Currency: 500 FCFA=1 USD
Major peoples: Haussa, Djerrma, Fulani, Tuareg, Beri  Beri, Gourmance
Religion: Muslim 80%, African religion 15%, Christian 5%
Climate: Arid to semiarid
Literacy: 28%
Official Language: French, Hausa
Principal Languages: Hausa, Zarma, Kanuri, Fulde, Tamacheq
Major Exports: Uranium
Pre-Colonial History Humans inhabited what is now dry desert in northern Niger about 600,000 years ago. Niger was an important economic crossroads, and the empires of Songhai, Mali, Gao, Kanem, and Bornu, as well as a number of Hausa states, claimed control over portions of the area. During recent centuries, the nomadic Tuareg formed large confederations, pushed southward, and, siding with various Hausa states, clashed with the Fulani Empire of Sokoto, which had gained control of much of the Hausa territory in the late 18th century. In the 19th century, contact with the West began when the first European explorers-notably Mungo Park (British) and Heinrich Barth (German)-explored the area searching for the mouth of the Niger River. In 1922, Niger became a French colony. Niger's colonial history and development parallel that of other French West African territories. French West Africa was administered from Paris through a governor general at Dakar, Senegal, and governors in the individual territories, including Niger.
Post-Colonial History The 1946 French constitution conferred French citizenship on the inhabitants of the territories, provided for decentralization of power and limited participation in political life for local advisory assemblies. A further revision in the organization of overseas territories began with the passage of the Overseas Reform Act (Loi Cadre) of July 23, 1956, followed by re-organizational measures enacted by the French Parliament early in 1957. On December 4, 1958, after the establishment of the Fifth French Republic, Niger became an autonomous state within the French Community. Following full independence on August 3, 1960, however, membership was allowed to lapse. Hamani Diori, the leader of the Parti Progressiste Nigerien, became Head of State. In 1974 Diori was arrested, and Lt. Col. Seyni Kountche became President. In December 1987 Sabou proclaimed a general amnesty for all political prisoners. In June 1990 the Conseil Superieur d'Orientation Nationale (CSON) announced that the constitution was to be emended to facilitate a transition to political pluralism. The constitution of the Third Republic, which was approved in a national referendum in 1992 and promulgated in 1993, provides for a civilian, multiparty system.

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