Niger is located in the northern half of the continent of Africa. Much of its territory falls within the borders of Sahara desert. Niger has isolated geographical location because there is no outlet to the ocean and is also far away of the major global economic centers. Niger occupies an area of 1,267,000. On the north it borders by Algeria and Libya, on the east by Chad, on the south by Nigeria and Benin and on the west borders with Burkina Faso and Mali.
Nature of Niger. For the most part the landscape in Niger is dominated by sand dunes of the Sahara desert. Only the southern parts of the country are occupied by the green and fertile savannas, which are a haven for wildlife. Particularly important for the local fauna is the Niger River, which crosses the southwestern part of the country. This is the third largest river on the continent and for a desert country such as Niger this is a river of life. The fact that this river is the main link with the ocean strongly increased its importance.
Climate of Niger. Niger lies within the borders of two climate zones – tropical on the north and subequatorial in a limited area in the south of the country. Tropical climate zone is characterized by dry weather year-round, extremely low rainfall, high daytime temperatures and cool nights. In subequatorial areas of Niger has two seasons – dry and rainy.
Climate of the capital Niamey. Capital Niamey is located in the southwestern part of the country and has a typical subequatorial climate. Temperatures are usually very high. Vary between 33 and 42 degrees throughout the year. The rainy season lasts from May to October. At its height in August can drop to about 200 mm rain within a month. Although August is the height of summer in the northern hemisphere and Niger is located precisely there, temperatures are actually the lowest for the year (if still 33°C can be called low).
Population and cities in Niger. It is difficult to say with precision, but it is suggest that Niger has a population of about 15 million people. Most of them are Muslims. Urbanization is low. In big cities live a relatively small proportion of the population. The population of the country speaks many languages, but most important are, respectively, French and Arabic. French is left as a legacy of the times when France ruled much of the continent. The largest city in the Niger is the capital Niamey. It is home to about 700,000 people and is located on both sides of the Niger River. Most of the city lies on the north side of river. Zinder and Maradi both are the second largest cities. Zinder is also situated in the south of the country. It has a population of about 200,000 people. Their infrastructure is quite underdeveloped compared with that in Niamey, because it still is the capital of the country. Maradi also has a population of about 200,000 inhabitants, but is considered somewhat smaller than Zinder. Like Niamey and Zinder, it is also located near the southern border. The city is located near the marshland through which flows the river Gouldin Maradi. The reason why the city is not very close to the river are the regular floods during the rainy season. Fourth largest city is Agadez. It has a population of about 100,000 residents, but urban agglomeration is almost 4 times bigger. This is one of the few cities in the country which are outside the humid and fertile southern regions. Agadez is located much further north into the desert area at an altitude of 500 meters. Agadez may be called the tourist capital of Niger.
Economy of Niger and quality of life. Niger is a developing country with low living standards and widespread poverty. It is considered to be one of the ten poorest countries in the world, faced with numerous economic and social difficulties. Like other African countries here is a significant shortage of qualified medical personnel. Much of the population is illiterate. Diseases like AIDS are very common. In Niger there are a large number of orphaned children whose parents have died of the plague of the 20th century. Main sources of income for this poor country is the export of minerals such as uranium, tin, coal and many others. Agriculture is underdeveloped, but this is an important source of income. Natural disasters such as sandstorms and frequent droughts in the least do not help the local economy, which is among the least developed of the continent.
Tourism in Niger
Many tourists are afraid for their security when they visit some poor African country. The reason is that in the world is hardly to find a country that is so poor, but completely safe. The same applies to Niger. In fact, the country really is considered dangerous. Here sometimes happens foreigners to be kidnapped or even killed, although this is still not routine. It should not be denied also that many people have traveled without a problem and are left with good memories of their visit to Niger. Let’s put it this way: if you are a young family with small children or elderly couple looking for tranquility Niger is not quite appropriate destination for you. But if you are young in age or soul enthusiast seeking adventure this country could be quite interesting for you. Although in this case is still good for security reasons not to move away of the tourist group. Niger is not as safe destination such as Europe, but security is much, much higher than in countries such as Somalia, Iraq or Afghanistan. Ultimately the decision is yours.
Niger is an interesting and exotic country. This local nature, culture and traditions are very unusual and interesting for tourists coming from the northern parts of the world such as Europe and North America. The first thing you will notice is probably very hot weather which for a European would be used pretty hard. This is true both for summer and in winter. If you visit Niger during the rainy season, high humidity combined with high temperatures could cause discomfort even more sensitive people. In winter it is not so humid, but the major problem is the temperature, which usually exceed 40°C in the shade! Note that the locals are accustomed to these temperatures and humidity and that do not impress them much.
Agadez is the pearl of the Niger and is perhaps the most beautiful city in the country. It is one of the few cities located in the heart of the desert landscapes of Sahara into the central parts of Niger. The vegetation is quite scarce. Here and there, thrive some drought resistant trees. But vegetation is not what captivates visitors here. In Agadez emphasis on the uniqueness of the architecture and overall the ancient vision of the city. Buildings in the city are low with flat roofs. Agadez as a whole has a distinctive reddish hue, as all buildings have this interesting color. This one particular reddish nuance make the Agadez to reminiscent of Morocco. This place radiates extremely rich culture, although for the most part, does not have even the most basic road infrastructure. The streets are narrow, meandering and confused if they have no direction. Here you will find many monuments that have something special in themselves. For example, the Great Mosque of Agadez, which dates from the 16th century. In fact, unless you know exactly what you are looking for probably you will not understand that this mosque stands in front of you. It is different perhaps from all mosques that you have ever seen. And what about the the typical Oriental colorful and genuine urban market where thousand kinds of goods are hung or placed directly on the ground? But the market is well shaded! Even local residents who are otherwise accustomed to the local climate are avoid the terrible heat.
In addition of Agadez there are many other things to see and do in Niger. As a typical African country, Niger offers excellent opportunities for safari. Protected areas, whether national parks or reserves held the exclusively natural wealth of the country. On safari in the wild you can watch the amazing wild nature of Niger – various antelopes, hippos, monkeys or large predators such as crocodiles. It is also worth to take a canoe trip on the waters of any of the local rivers. But beware! Travel only with an experienced guide, because many of the representatives of local wildlife could be dangerous! Do not miss one of the most exciting experiences that a person may have in Africa – safari in the Sahara Desert. Most authentic is if you are on the back of a camel. Well, it is true that the camel can not offer you the convenience of specialized vehicles, but will help you to open your senses. Suitable place for this purpose is Tenere National Preserve – note that this is considered the most beautiful deserts, which Mother Nature has created!
When to travel to Niger? November, December and January are the months that offer optimal weather conditions. In this way you will travel after the peak of the rainy season and at the same time before the big heat from March to May when the thermometer shows above 40 degrees! Also be careful with sun exposure, since the sun is much stronger than in Europe even in summer.
What clothes do you need if you travel to Niger? First of all look to be comfortable and consistent with the heat. Niger is a poor country, so avoid expensive clothes and those which hit in the eyes. If you are planning a safari (although it would be craziness to miss this adventure if you visit Niger), add in your luggage a pair of long pants or jeans, and appropriate comfortable and sturdy shoes. You never know what kind of animals will face, so your dress at least have to protect you. Do not miss also the sun block!
Warning! Niger is currently not a safe country and there are many places to be avoided!