Bilma

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Bilma
Commune
Erg of bilma.png
Bilma is located in Niger
Bilma
Bilma
Coordinates: 18°41′12″N 12°55′09″E / 18.68667°N 12.91917°E / 18.68667; 12.91917
Country  Niger
Region Agadez Region
Department Bilma Department
Commune Bilma
Elevation 358 m (1,175 ft)
Population (2011)[1]>
 • Commune 6,481
 • Metro 2,500 (approx.)

Bilma is an oasis town and commune in north east Niger with a population of around 2,500 people.[1] As of 2011, the commune had a total population of 6,481 people.[2] It lies protected from the desert dunes under the Kaouar Cliffs and is the largest town along the Kaouar escarpment. It is known for its gardens, for salt and natron production through evaporation ponds,[3] date cultivation, and as the destination of one of the last Saharan caravan routes (the Azalai, from Agadez). On June 23, 2010 in Bilma the highest temperature ever in Niger was recorded at 48.2 °C (118.8 °F).

Population[edit]

Its population is mostly Kanuri, with smaller Toubou, Tuareg, and Hausa populations, the last being a reminder of Bilma's role as a key stop in the Trans Saharan trade.

Administration and economy[edit]

Bilma is the administrative seat of the Bilma Department, covering some 670,000 km2 (260,000 sq mi) of north eastern Niger. While it continues to produce salt in large natron salt pans, and this salt is still sold for livestock use throughout west Africa, tourism (based out of Agadez and the Aïr Mountains some 560 km (350 mi) to the east) is of growing importance.

Climate[edit]

Bilma features a hot desert climate (Köppen climate classification BWh). The town lies deep in the heart of the Sahara Desert, more precisely in the Ténéré, an hyper-arid desert region lying over northeastern Niger and western Chad, and as such is extremely dry, averaging only 12.7 mm (0.50 in) of measurable precipitation annually. Bilma is also hot during the "winter" months and extremely hot during the summer months and for prolonged periods of time. Averages high temperatures in "winter" months surpass 27 °C (81 °F) and exceed 40 °C (104 °F) from April to September inclusively, peaking at 44 °C (111 °F) in June. The sunshine duration is extremely high year-round with some 4,000 h of bright sunshine annually. The region excels at hot, sunny and dry weather.

Climate data for Bilma, Niger
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 27.7
(81.9)
31.9
(89.4)
35.3
(95.5)
40.6
(105.1)
42.9
(109.2)
44.1
(111.4)
43.0
(109.4)
42.1
(107.8)
41.8
(107.2)
39.1
(102.4)
33.1
(91.6)
28.7
(83.7)
37.53
(99.55)
Daily mean °C (°F) 18.2
(64.8)
21.7
(71.1)
24.9
(76.8)
30.4
(86.7)
33.5
(92.3)
34.7
(94.5)
34.3
(93.7)
34.4
(93.9)
32.7
(90.9)
29.3
(84.7)
22.7
(72.9)
18.5
(65.3)
27.94
(82.3)
Average low °C (°F) 8.7
(47.7)
11.4
(52.5)
14.5
(58.1)
20.1
(68.2)
24.1
(75.4)
25.3
(77.5)
25.5
(77.9)
26.6
(79.9)
23.6
(74.5)
19.5
(67.1)
12.2
(54)
8.3
(46.9)
18.32
(64.97)
Average precipitation mm (inches) 0
(0.00)
0
(0.00)
0
(0.00)
0
(0.00)
0
(0.00)
0
(0.00)
2.5
(0.10)
7.6
(0.30)
2.5
(0.10)
0
(0.00)
0
(0.00)
0
(0.00)
12.7
(0.50)
Source: Niger Climatology [4]

History[edit]

The isolation of Bilma made it the destination for disgraced officials under the authoritarian regime of Seyni Kountché, and a prison was built there by the government. Political leaders were held there in the 1980s, such as Sanoussi Tambari Djakou, today president of the PNA-AL, a Nigerien political party. During French Colonial rule, Bilma was the site of a major—if isolated—military post at Fort Dromard.

In 1989, UTA Flight 772 crashed into the desert near the town after a bomb exploded on board.

The Oasis at Bilma, with the Kaouar escarpment in the background.
The saline pans at Bilma.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b National Geographic Channel. Impossible Journeys: The Traders. Aired July 27, 2008.
  2. ^ "Annuaires_Statistiques". Institut National de la Statistique du Niger. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Lovejoy, Paul E. (1986). Salt of the Desert Sun: A History of Salt Production and Trade in the Central Sudan. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-30182-3. 
  4. ^ "Niger Climatology". Stats-Niger. Retrieved 2012-04-14. 

Sources[edit]

Coordinates: 18°41′N 12°55′E / 18.683°N 12.917°E / 18.683; 12.917