The land now known as Niger can be traced back to 135 million
years BCE following the discovery in 1999 of a dinosaur named
Jobaria Tiguidensis, a 20-ton Sauropod.
Just five thousand
years ago the land was fertile grassland, but today, following
millennia of desertification, 80% of the land locked country is
covered by the Sahara desert.
The country had a long
experience of European exploration with it becoming occupied by
France in 1890 and later turning into a French colony in 1922.
Niger achieved independence
on April 3rd 1960, having briefly been an autonomous republic of the French
Community for the two years before independence. Since then, Niger has had a succession of unstable governments, either
single party or military, with the latest coup occurring in 2010.
Niger has also faced three Tuareg rebellions in 1961-1964, 1990-1995 and more
recently in 2007-2009.
Such instability has done little to address the enormous challenges facing Niger
and its peoples; challenges including famine, lack of rainfall and poor harvests
and poor access to education or health services.
Like in so many of the poorest countries in Africa, the average is is just 15
years old, with just under half the population being aged 0 -14 years old.
Life expectancy is around 53yrs and over 10% of all children die at birth. Those
who survive are at risk of sexual exploitation and human trafficking for
enforced begging, enforced working in in gold mines, domestic servitude and also
for working in agriculture and stone quarries.
add to all of these problems is the famine that is sweeping West Africa
placing literally millions of already malnourished children at risk of
starving to death following years of drought across the region.
Already some 41,000 children have already dropped out of school because of
the crisis and a further half a million are also expected to do so as the
situation worsens. Many will never return. Adding to the problem are the
tens of thousands of refugees who have fled into Niger following the
rebellion in the north of Mali.
This page attempts to present information
and facts about Niger in pictures and video images. After you've explored
our about Niger collection why not try our Niger quiz and find out how much
you know about the country?