Niger, or to give it its full title of the Republic of Niger, has a
population of some 15.8 million and shares its borders, some of which remain
in dispute, with seven other countries. It is located on the edge of the
Sahara desert and the United Nations rates it as one of the least developed
countries in the world. Niger is often seen as the gateway between north
Africa and sub-Saharan Africa.
The country had a long experience of European exploration with it
becoming a French colony in 1922 until achieving independence on April 3rd
1960. Since then, Niger has had a succession of unstable governments, either
single party or military, with the latest coup
occurring in 2010 although democratic elections have now been restored.
Such instability has done little to address the enormous challenges
facing Niger and its peoples; challenges including famine, lack of rainfall and poor harvests. In fact,
Niger is one of the world's poorest countries with poor education and health
care systems and an on-going insurgency by Tuareg rebels in the north.
Like in so many of the poorer African nations, the average age 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.
Some other facts about Niger; 80% of the population is Muslim of
which 55.4% are Haoussa with the Djerma Sonrai and Tuareg at 21%
and 9.3% respectively. Other people include the Peuhl (8.5%) and
Kanouri Manga (4.7%). Literacy runs at just 28%, and most women
have between 7-8 children of which only around 42% will enrol in
school, very few of them girls. Some 600,000 of the population
have HIV and an estimated 25,00 children in Niger out of a total
child population of 8,429,000
have been orphaned through the virus.