Portal:Niger

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Niger (/ˈnər/ or /nˈʒɛər/; French pronunciation: ​[niʒɛʁ]), officially named the Republic of Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa, named after the Niger River. It borders Nigeria and Benin to the south, Burkina Faso and Mali to the west, Algeria and Libya to the north and Chad to the east. Niger covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km², over 80 percent of which is covered by the Sahara desert. The country's population of just above 15,000,000 is mostly clustered in the far south and west of the nation. The capital city is Niamey.

Niger is a developing country. Much of the non-desert portions of the country are threatened by periodic drought and desertification. The economy is concentrated around subsistence and some export agriculture clustered in the more fertile south, and the export of raw materials—especially uranium ore. Niger remains handicapped by its landlocked position, poor education, infrastructure, health care, deserts, poverty and environmental degradation.

Nigerien society reflects a great diversity drawn from the long independent histories of its several ethnic groups and regions and their relatively short period living in a single state. Historically, what is now Niger has been on the fringes of several large states. Since independence, Nigeriens have lived under five constitutions and three periods of military rule, but have maintained elected multiparty rule since 1999. The vast majority of the population practice Islam. A majority also live in rural areas, and have little access to advanced education.

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The Tuareg (also Twareg or Touareg, Amazigh: Imuhagh/Itargiyen, besides regional ethnyms) are a Berber nomadic pastoralist people. They are the principal inhabitants of the Saharan interior of North Africa. They call themselves variously Kel Tamasheq or Kel Tamajaq ("Speakers of Tamasheq"), Imuhagh, Imazaghan or Imashaghen ("the Free people"), or Kel Tagelmust, i.e., "People of the Veil". The name Tuareg was applied to them by early explorers and historians (since Leo Africanus).

The origin and meaning of the name Twareg has long been debated with various etymologies advanced, although it would appear that Twārəg is derived from the "broken plural" of Tārgi, a name whose former meaning was "inhabitant of Targa" (the Tuareg name of the Libyan region commonly known as Fezzan. Targa in Berber means "(drainage) channel", see Alojali et al. 2003: 656, s.v. "Targa").

The Tuareg today are found mostly in North Africa and West Africa. Some historians claim they progressively moved south over the last 2000 years. They were once nomads throughout the Sahara. They have a little-used but ancient script known as the Tifinagh.

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1997 274-29 Gerewol.jpg
Credit: Dan Lundberg

Contestants from the Wodaabe ethnic group sing and dance at the Guérewol festival while flaunting the whiteness of their eyes and teeth.

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Ali Badjo Gamatie, IMF 62ph020928hl.jpg

Ali Badjo Gamatié is a Nigerien politician and civil servant who served as Prime Minister of Niger from October 2009 to February 2010. He was Finance Minister of Niger from 2000 to 2003 and then served as Vice-Governor of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) before being appointed as Prime Minister by President Mamadou Tandja.

In the first government of Prime Minister Hama Amadou, which was named on 5 January 2000, Gamatié was included as Minister of Finance. As Finance Minister, Gamatié was an international advocate for the total cancellation of foreign debts of Niger and other Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC). He was involved in IMF negotiations on the debt status of these nations. As Finance Minister he also raised questions about the accountability and representativeness of non-governmental organizations and civil society groups operating in Niger and elsewhere. Gamatié was Prime Minister for only a few months, as Tandja was overthrown in a February 2010 military coup.

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