Meaning of NIGER RIVER in English

The Niger and Sngal river basins and the Lake Chad basin and their drainage principal river of West Africa. With a length of 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometres), it is the third longest river in Africa, after the Nile and the Congo. The Niger is believed to have been named by the Greeks. Along its course it is known by several names. These include the Joliba (a Malinke word meaning great river) in its upper course; the Mayo Balleo and the Isa Eghirren in its central reach; and the Kwarra, Kworra, or Quorra in its lower stretch. The Niger River at Mopti, Mali. principal river of western Africa and the third longest in Africa. The river rises in Guinea on the eastern side of the Fouta Djallon highlands and flows in a great arc northeast to Taoussa in Mali, then southeast through western Niger, continuing to Lokoja, Nigeria, where it turns south to flow into the Gulf of Guinea, of the Atlantic Ocean, west of Port Harcourt. The Niger drainage system is bounded in the south by such highlands as the Fouta Djallon, the Banfora Cliffs, the Plateau of Yorubaland, and the Cameroon highlands. The northern edge of the Niger basin is less clearly defined. The river's upper-course tributaries include the Mafou, Niandan, Milo, Sankarani, and Tinkisso; its major middle-course tributary is the Bani; and its major lower-course tributaries are the Kaduna and the Benue, the latter approximately doubling the volume of the Niger's annual discharge. At the confluence of the Niger and Benue at Lokoja, the rivers form a lakelike stretch of water about 2 miles (3 km) wide that is dotted with islands and sandbanks. In the Niger River delta, extending over an area of 14,000 square miles (36,000 square km), the river breaks up into an intricate network of channels called rivers, which include the Nun, the Forcados, the Brass, the Sambreiro, and the Bonny. Within the Niger basin, climate shows great variability; mean annual rainfall decreases northward from more than 160 inches (4,060 mm) annually in the delta to less than 10 inches (255 mm) in Timbuktu. Because of climatic variations, the annual river flood does not occur at the same time in all parts of the basin. Along its course the Niger traverses virtually all of the vegetational zones of western Africa, including sedge vegetation, savanna grassland, thorny shrub and acacia wood, rain forest, and mangrove swamps. Many varieties of fish are found in the Niger and its tributaries; catfish, carp, and Nile perch supply an important economic activity along the length of the river system. Other Niger fauna include hippopotamus, crocodile, lizards, and a rich collection of birds. The Niger River valley is sparsely settled, with the exception of population concentrations in the lake region of central Mali and in the Nupe area in Nigeria. The ethnic pattern along the course of the river includes such peoples as the Bambara, the Malinke, the Songhai, and the Zerma (Djerma). The Niger provides a tremendous source for irrigation and hydroelectric development. Most of the river is used by commercial shipping, and rail and road routes cross it at many points. Length 2,600 miles (4,200 km); drainage basin 730,000 square miles (1,890,600 square km); mean annual discharge 212,000 cubic feet per second (6,000 cubic m per second). Additional reading Accounts of the Niger River environment include Y. Brunet-Monet et al., Monographie hydrologique du fleuve Niger, 2 vol. (1986); Jean Gallais, La Delta intrieur du Niger: tude de gographie rgionale, 2 vol. (1967); and two essays in Bryan R. Davies and Keith F. Walker (eds.), The Ecology of River Systems (1986), both by R.L. Welcomme: The Niger River System, pp. 923, and Fish of the Niger System, pp. 2548. Christopher Lloyd, The Search for the Niger (1973); and Sanche De Gramont (pseud. for Ted Morgan), The Strong Brown God: The Story of the Niger River (1975), cover the history of the river's exploration. Akinlawon Ladipo Mabogunje Study and exploration It was not until the late 18th century that Europeans made systematic attempts to find the source, direction, and outlet of the Niger. In 1795 Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer, traveled overland from the Gambia region and reached the Niger near Sgou, where in July 1796 he established that the river flowed eastward. In 1805 Park sailed more than 1,500 miles down the river, seeking to reach its mouth, but he and his party were drowned in the rapids at Bussa (now covered by Lake Kainji). In 1822 another Scottish explorer, Alexander G. Laing, determined but did not visit the source of the river. In 1830 two English explorers, Richard and John Lander, established the lower course of the Niger by canoeing down the river from Yauri (now also covered by Lake Kainji), to the Atlantic Ocean, via the Nun River passage. In the second half of the 19th century two German explorers, Heinrich Barth and Eduard R. Flegel, in separate travels established the course of the Benue from its source to its confluence with the Niger. The people and the economy The Niger River at Mopti, Mali. The Niger valley is sparsely settled, although there are population concentrations in the lake region and near the confluence of the Niger and Benue. In medieval times the valley was the heartland of the Mali and Songhai empires, and some of the river towns date from this period. The ethnic pattern along the course of the river includes larger groupssuch as the Bambara, the Malinke, the Songhai, and the Zerma (Djerma)occupying both sides of the river above the Nigerian boundary, below which there are many small ethnic groups. Fishing is an important activity along the length of the river system, especially during the dry season when the deep-sea and coastal fish catch is smallest. River fishing is a specialized occupation for certain peoples, such as the Bozo and Somono in the lake region, the Sorko on the middle Niger, the Kede and the Kakanda between Jebba and Lokoja, and the Wurbo and the Jukun on the Benue. The discovery and exploitation of petroleum in the delta region, however, has seriously disrupted fishing there; oil pollution has killed most of the fish, undermining the economy of the Ijo (Ijaw) people of the region. Irrigation The irrigation of the Niger valleyfor the purpose of transforming it into a densely populated, agricultural corridor running through the interior of western Africahas long been a goal of planners. In the 1930s the French colonial administration, for example, began to plan the irrigation of large areas in the lake region; a barrage at Sansanding that raised the level of the Niger was completed in 1947. Feeder canals were constructed, and huge tracts of irrigated land now produce rice, cotton, sugarcane, and vegetables. The British colonial administration also encouraged irrigated rice cultivation in the Bida region. In Nigeria large-scale irrigation schemes have been developed since the 1960s on the Niger and some of its tributaries, notably the Sokoto, Kaduna, and Benue. The Niger is also a source of hydroelectricity. The largest project is the Kainji Dam in Nigeria, completed in the late 1960s. A 500-square-mile lake has been created upstream, offering opportunities for fishing and irrigation. Other projects include the Sotuba and Markala dams in Mali and dams at Jebba (on the Niger) and Shiroro (on the Kaduna tributary) in Nigeria. The economy The economic system is based upon planning but accords an important role to private enterprise. The three main policy objectives are the maintenance of national unity, the elevation of the living standards of the population, and the attainment of economic independence. The private sector of the economy consists partly of a multitude of small enterprises and partly of enterprises belonging to large French or international companies. The government, through the agency of the Development Bank of the Republic of Niger, which is funded partly by aid from abroad, has promoted the establishment of many companies, including real estate, road transport, air transport, and agricultural processing enterprises. Niger is encouraging economic links between African countries. Apart from its membership in the Organization of African Unity, Niger is a membertogether with Cte d'Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Togoof the Conseil de l'Entente, a regional cooperative group, as well as of the Organisation Commune Africaine et Mauricienne, another group of French-speaking African states. Resources Salt is traditionally exploited in the Kaouar and Ar regions, as well as in the dallol, and in the Manga district. Natron (hydrated sodium carbonate) is extracted locally. Cassiterite (an ore of tin) is mined at open workings in Ar. Small quantities of gold are obtained by panning in the Sirba River. Limestone and an important deposit of gypsum have been located at Malbaza and in the Ader Doutchi and Majia region. Niger's known reserves of uranium rank among the most important in the world. Apart from tungsten in the Ar region, traces of copper, lignite (a brownish black coal), molybdenum, zinc, phosphates, and titanium have been found and are the subject of further prospection. A reserve of iron ore, with an iron content of about 50 percent, has been located in the Say region; and petroleum deposits have been discovered in the Lake Chad area. The exploitation of plant resources has long been practiced but on a small scale. The doum palm and the palmyra palm provide wood for construction, while the palms of the Manga oasis produce dates. Small amounts of kapok (a silky down from the kapok tree, used for insulation, life jackets, and so forth) and of gum from the acacia gum tree are exported. Skins of ostriches, crocodiles, and snakes are used for making handicrafts that are exported to Europe. Fish from the Niger River and Lake Chad are exported southward to the coastal countries. The land Relief Niger extends for about 750 miles (1,200 kilometres) from north to south and about 930 miles from east to west. It tends to monotony in its features, is intersected by numerous depressions, and is dominated by arid highlands in the north. Rainfall increases as one proceeds southward so that the country divides naturally into three distinct zonesa desert zone in the north; an intermediate zone, where nomadic pastoralists raise cattle, in the centre; and a cultivated zone in the south. It is in this southern zone that the greater part of the population, both nomadic and settled, is concentrated. The highlands of the north are cut by valleys (kori) of the Ar Massif, which is an extension of the Ahaggar (Hoggar) Mountains of Algeria, and consists of a range running north to south in the centre of Niger, with individual mountain masses forming separate islands: from north to south these are Tazerzat, where Mount Grboun reaches an altitude of 6,379 feet (1,944 metres); Tamgak; Takolokouzet; Angornakouer; Bagzane; and Tarouadji. To the northeast is a series of high plateaus, which form a bridge between the Ahaggar Mountains of Algeria and the Tibesti Mountains of Chad. From west to east these are the plateaus of Djado, Mangueni, and Tchiga. The sandy regions of the Nigerian Sahara extend to either side of the Ar. To the west the Talak region includes the Tamesna area in the north (where fossil valleys are filled with moving sand dunes) and the Azaoua area in the south. East of the Ar is the Tnr region, covered partly by an expanse of sand called an erg, partly by a stony plain called a reg. The plateaus of the south, which form a belt about 900 miles long, may be divided into three regions. To the west is the Djerma Ganda region. Its large valleys are filled with sand, while dallol (fossilized valleys of rivers that formed tributaries of the Niger in ancient times) descend from the Ar and the Iforas Massif of neighbouring Mali. The central region consists of the rocky Adar Doutchi and Majia areas; it is the region of the gulbi (dried-up valleys of former tributaries of the Sokoto River) and the Tegamaa tableland of sandstone, ending, toward the Ar, at the Tiguidit scarp. To the east the underlying rock reappears in the Damagarim, Mounio, and Koutous regions, to the north of which is the region of Damergou, consisting of clays. In the Manga region, in the east, traces of ancient watercourses appear on the sandy plain. Drainage and soils It is convenient to make a distinction between the ancient hydrographic system, which allowed agriculturalists, fishermen, and pastoralists to live in the Ar region about 5,000 or 6,000 years ago, and the present simple system, which forms the basis of the marked difference between the northern and southern parts of the country. The present system includes to the west the Niger River basin and to the east the basin of Lake Chad; between the two occur vestiges of the older system, such as the dallol and the gulbi. To the west the Niger River crosses about 350 miles of Niger's territory. Because of the change in river flow, which occurs because of the dispersal of its waters in its interior delta region in Mali, it is only in January and February that it flows past Niamey in flood. At other times the river is fed by certain temporary watercourses that flow in from the right bank. These are the Gorouol, the Dargol, the Sirba, the Goroubi, the Djamangou, the Tapoa, and the Mkrou; the last two flow through the W National Park (so called because the Niger flows through the area in the form of a W). On the left bank, proceeding eastward, appear the dallol, the vestiges of the older watercourses. Generally running from north to south, they constitute zones of dampness, although a few still contain waters that flow toward the Niger. The best known are the Bosso, the Foga, and the Maouri wadis. Other vestiges consist of the kori, which run down from the Ar and from former tributaries that had their sources in the Iforas Massif, and which flowed to a confluence at what is now the Ti-m-merhso Wadi. No waters flow through the kori now, but water is still to be found beneath their sands. Other remnants of the old system are formed by the gulbi, through which water still flows annually, occasionally causing damage. To the east is situated the basin of Lake Chad, a large, shallow lake, which at its highest contemporary level has an area of approximately 9,650 square miles; of this, Niger possesses about 1,100 square miles. Its extent is considerably reduced during the dry season. The Komadougou Yob River, which flows into Lake Chad from the west, forms part of the frontier between Niger and Nigeria. Its water level, which begins to rise in August, from January to May consists only of some stagnant pools. In addition to the drainage system described, it may be noted that rainwater collects in several basins, so that some permanent lakes or pools also exist; these are found at Keta and Adouna in the Adar Doutchi region, at Madaroumfa in the Maradi gulbi, and at Guidimouni to the east of Zinder. The water table in some areas can also be tapped to produce artesian wells. The soils fall into three natural regions. In the Saharan region in the north the soil is infertile, except in a few oases where water is found. In the region known as the Sahel, which forms a transitional zone between the Sahara and the region to the south, the soils are thin and white, being covered with salty deposits resulting from intense evaporation that forms an infertile surface crust. The third region (in the south) is cultivated. In this area the soils are associated with extensive dunes or uplands or with basins or depressions. Some of the soils in the latter, such as those in the Niger basin and in the gulbi, are rich. Black soils occur in the Kolo basin. Throughout the region, however, and above all on the plateaus, less fertile lateritic (leached iron-bearing) soils occur. The people Linguistic groups The largest linguistic group is formed by the Hausa, whose language, also spoken in Nigeria, is one of the most important in western Africa. A large percentage of the inhabitants of Niger understand Hausa, which possesses an abundant literature that has been printed in Latin characters in Nigeria. Songhai is the second most important language; it is also spoken in Mali, in northern Burkina Faso, and in northern Benin. In Niger itself it is divided into various dialects, such as Songhai proper, Zerma, and Dendi. The language of the Fulani is Fulfulde; in Niger it has two dialects, eastern and western, the demarcation line between them running through the Boboye district. Tamashek is the language of the Tuareg, who often call themselves the Kel Tamagheq, or Tamashek speakers. The language is also spoken in Algeria and Mali and possesses its own writing, called tifinagh, which is in widespread use. Kanuri is spoken not only in Niger but also in Cameroon and Nigeria; the tongue is called Beriberi by the Hausa. While these five languages are the principal ones spoken in Niger, there is also an important Teda linguistic group in the Tibesti region. In addition, many of the peoples of Niger speak Arabic, and a still larger number read and write in that language; Agadez possesses one of the oldest Arabic schools in Africa. The use of the Arabic alphabet resulted in Fulfulde and Hausa becoming written languages; the script is called ajami; a search for more old manuscripts in ajami is being conducted. By using Hausa and Songhai, one may make oneself understood from one end of the country to the other. French, however, remains the official language, as well as the language of instruction, although it remains understood only by a small minority. English is taught as the principal foreign language in secondary schools. Ethnic groups Ethnic groups correspond to the five linguistic groups already mentioned. The Hausa are the largest group, constituting more than half of the present population, though the majority of the Hausa people live in Nigeria. The Hausa occupy the centre of southern Niger as far as Dogondoutchi. The Songhai-Zerma are found in the southwest; the Songhai proper live along the Niger, where they are assimilating the Kurtey and Wogo peoples. The majority of the Songhai people as a whole, however, live in Mali. The Zerma (Djerma) live on the left bank of the Niger, remaining in close contact with the Mauri and Arewa peoples. The Fulani, who are dispersed throughout the country, are mostly nomadic; they are also found dispersed throughout western Africa. The Tuareg, also nomadic, are divided into three subgroupsthe Iullemmiden of the Azaouak region in the west, the Asben (Kel Ar) in the Ar region, and the Itesen (Kel Geres) to the south and east of Ar. The Tuareg people are also found in Algeria and in Mali. The Kanuri, who live to the east of Zinder, are divided into a number of subgroupsthe Manga, the Dogara (Dagara), the Mober, the Buduma, and the Kanembu; they are also found living in Chad, Cameroon, and Nigeria. Apart from the nomadic Teda of the Tibesti region, who constitute an important minority, the remainder of the population consists of Arabs, black Africans from other countries, and Europeans, of whom the greater part are French.

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