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Essay on Niger Country

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The president is the most powerful official in the government. The president appoints a prime minister and other members of the cabinet, determines their responsibilities, and may end their appointments at any time. The president is elected by the people to a five-year term.


Niger flag

The National Assembly is responsible for making Niger's laws. The members of the National Assembly are elected to five-year terms. The Constitutional Court is Niger's highest court in constitutional matters, and the Supreme Court is the highest court in other matters.

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People. The people of Niger are called Nigeriens «nee ZHEH ree ehnz». The major ethnic groups in Niger include the Hausa, Djerma-Songhai, Tuareg, Fulani, and Kanuri.

The Hausa make up more than half of the population of Niger. They live mainly in the south and work as farmers. About one-fourth of the people are members of the Djerma-Songhai ethnic group. The Djerma-Songhai are farmers and live in the southwestern corner of the country, along the Niger River. The Kanuri make up about 5 percent of the population. They farm the rich land in southeast Niger.

Many of the Tuareg and the Fulani are nomadic (traveling) people who raise livestock for food. The Tuareg and the Fulani each make up about 10 percent of the population. During the rainy season, which lasts from July through September, these two groups live in the barren desert country of northern Niger. In dry months, they travel south in search of water and pastureland.

Most of the people who live in Niger's rural areas raise crops and livestock for food and for export. Some Nigeriens who live near the Niger River or Lake Chad fish for a living. The nomadic groups raise camels, cattle, goats, and sheep. In the late 1960's and early 1970's, and again in the early 1980's, severe droughts led to the deaths of many of the nomads' animals. As a result, many nomads were forced to become farmers or move to urban areas.

Niamey, Niger's capital, is its largest city by far. Other large cities include Agadez (Agades), Maradi, Tahoua, and Zinder. Most urban workers in Niger have jobs in the government and other services, or in business.

Houses in rural Niger are built according to the traditions of the ethnic groups. The Hausa live in crowded villages and towns, in houses built of sun-dried mud bricks. The nomadic Tuareg live in tents made of skins or mats. The nomadic Fulani build houses out of straw and branches, and must construct new homes every time they move. The Nigerien government has built low-cost single-family houses in Niamey.


Nigerien women beating corn

Nigeriens eat mainly grains and dairy products. Several popular dishes are made with millet and sorghum. The grains are often cooked into a porridge and served with a sauce. The nomadic Fulani and Tuareg live mainly on milk products from their herds. They also trade these products for grains and vegetables.

Most Nigerien women wear long, wraparound skirts with short blouses and sandals. Men may wear pants or knee-length shorts with loose shirts or robes. Tuareg men wear turbans with veils. The Fulani and Tuareg, who travel in desert areas, wear long, loose robes for protection from the sun.

Education in Niger is free, but many areas do not have schools. The government operates the public schools. Many places have Qur'anic schools, which teach Muslim religious knowledge. A system of "tent schools" serves the nomadic groups in the north. When a group moves, the school moves with it. Most of Niger's adults cannot read or write.

French is the official language of Niger and is widely used in the schools. However, most Nigeriens commonly speak the language of their ethnic group, instead of French. More than 85 percent of the population understand the Hausa language, which serves as the language of trade. The language of the Djerma-Songhai is the second most widely spoken language. Some Nigeriens speak Arabic.

Most Nigeriens are Muslims. A small percentage of urban dwellers are Christians. Some rural Nigeriens practice traditional African religions.


Nigerien folk music

The ethnic groups in Niger have produced many kinds of crafts, music, dance, and art. Craftworkers make gold and silver jewelry, pottery, leatherwork, cloth, and wood carvings. People in both urban and rural areas enjoy traditional African styles of music. Popular forms of recreation include cycling, basketball, and soccer.

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Land and climate. Sandy plateaus and desert cover the northern two-thirds of Niger. In the center of this region, a large area of mountain ranges called the Air Mountains rises above the flat landscape. These mountains include the highest peak in Niger, Mount Bagzane, which stands 6,634 feet (2,022 meters) above sea level. Less than 7 inches (17.5 centimeters) of rain falls each year in the mountains. The surrounding desert receives even less rain. Temperatures in the area can reach as high as 122 oF (50 oC).

Niger's most productive zone for herding animals and growing crops is the savanna, a grassy, thinly wooded plain in the south. The savanna extends from the Niger River in the west, along Niger's southern border, to Lake Chad in the east. It is one of the hottest places in the



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