Map of Niger, Algeria, Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Mali, Gulf og Guinea
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Niger—short for the Republic of Niger—is named after the Niger River, the third longest river in Africa. 'Pacification', a softer word for conquering, the land and natives by the French, lasted from 1900 to 1922; independence was gained in 1960. In 2005, the country received 100% debt relief from the IMF, erasing 86 million in debt.
In 2010, the Nigerien army overthrew the government, claiming it as a move toward democracy. Today, nearly half of the government's budget comes from foreign aid. Despite this, the country is the world's largest exporter of uranium. Exxon-Mobile bought rights to explore for oil, but went no further; China also bought rights to set up oil wells in the territory of Niger.
Niger is one of the lowest ranked countries in the UN's Human Development Index and has one of the lowest literacy rates and—according to the Save the Children Foundation—one of the highest infant mortality rates. Half of the population is under 15 and nearly 8% of the population is enslaved.
When it was first inhabited, it was all fertile land. Now, however, the countryside has undergone desertification and deforestation, leaving most of the region arid desert. Niger is land-locked, in the northern part of Africa. It is the most important home of West African lions, despite the environmental damage. While the country is religiously tolerant and traditional head scarves are rare, 80%-98% of the population is Muslim.

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