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The Republic of Niger（French：République du Niger), named after the Niger River, is one of the land-locked countries of West Africa with the lowest level of develpment, Niamey is the capital. Niger is adjacent to Chad on the East, Nigeria and Benin are along her southern boundary, Burkina Faso and Mali are near the northern border, Algeria is on the north and Libya is on the northeast. The total length of Niger's border is 5,500 km with land area of 1,267,600 square kilometers.
From the 8th to 16th century, three strong countries had been risen up: Kingdom of Ghana, Mali Empire and Songhai Empire. From 11th to 18th century, Bornu Empire had been risen up in the Lake Chad. Niger was not the ruling center of Ghana and Mali, however, the empires imposed great influence on Niger through trading. The western and central areas of Niger were parts of Songhai.
Niger was occupied by France from 1897 to 1900 and became a French colony in 1904. She was incorporated into west Africa under French governance.
Niger became independent on 3th August 1960, Hamani Diori was the first President. Seyni Kountche, the Chief of Armed Forceas seized power by coup, he had been in power until he died on November 1987, Alisaibou succeeded to be the President. Mahamane Ottoman was the first democratically elected President yet was overthrown by militarists in January 1996. Tandja Mamadou was elected to be the President in November 1999 and re-elected successfully in December 2004 yet was overthrown on 18 February 2010 by military coup.
Semi-presidentialism is implemented in Niger, the President is the head of state, head of administration and commander of the armed forces elected through two rounds of plurality voting system with a 5-year term of office, one time of re-election is allowed. Tandja, who was about to finish two terms of office, put forward the amendment of the Constitution to lift the restriction on re-election in 2009 and caused controversy.
The President appoints the Prime Minister whom should be responsible for the Parliament base on the nomination by the majority in Parliamentary caucus.
The land area of Niger is 1.267 million square kilometers from latitude north 11°37′ to 23°33′ and longitude east 0°6′ to 16°.
The relief of Niger is high in north and low in south, it is characterized into 3 parts:
Elsword Highlands and surrounding mountains lie on the north with altitude 700-1,000 meters, the highest level of Niger is Gray Hills with altitude 1997 meters located in Tazemira Hitt. Sahel is the central part which is an area of semi-desert grassland with altitude 500-800 meters. The plains locate in the south with altitude 200-300 meters.
Rivers and Lakes
Niger is lacking water resources. Niger River is the major river, Komadougou Yobe River flowing into Lake Chad is another river in the east. There are some more seasonal rivers.
Niger is in arid tropical climate with drought and hot weather, the average temperature is 30°C. The rainy season is June to September and the dry season is October to May. The precipitation gradually decreases from the west to east.
The population is estimated to be 15.74 million in 2011 with 5/square kilometers as the population density. People are centralized in Niamey and the surrounding areas. The population structure is rather young with only 2% of the population are over 65 years old.
There are 5 major races: Hausa (accounting for 65%), Djerma-Songhai (22%), Fulani (8.5%), Tuareg (8%) and Kanuri (4%).
French, being the official language is not an everyday language. The tribes speak their own languages while Hausa is commonly used.
Muslims account for over 90% of the population, 90% of the Muslims are Sunni and 5% are Shiites. The remaining believe in Christianity, traditional religions and others.
Agriculture and Husbandry
Agriculture forms the economic basis of Niger, however there has been a long time of self-insufficiency on food due to the drought weather. Husbandry is another economic cornerstone, it comes just after Uranium mining to be the second in terms of exports value occupying 15% -20% of the GDP and accounting for 50% of the foreign earnings.
Uranium ores in Niger were discovered in 20th century. There were 21 million tons of proven reserves of uranium accounting for 11% of the global reserve and ranking 5th in the world.
The gold mining industry developed rapidly in recent years, Samira and Libiri are the major gold mining areas.
Niger has abundant phosphate with 1.25 billion tons of reserves ranking fourth in the world. Coals and petroleums are also important to Niger.
Relations with China
Niger established diplomatic relations with the Republic of China on 7th July 1963, later with People's Republic of China on 20th July 1974. The relations with the Republic of China was resumed on 30th July 1992 for 4 years, that with People's Republic of China was resumed twice on 19th August 1996.
The education level of Niger fell behind with only 16.5% of educated adults and 7% of whom were women.
There were only 2 universities in Niger, one was Abdou Moumouni University of Niamey which was a national university, another was Say Islamic University set up by Organization of the Islamic Conference.
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