Prehistory and early history in Niger
Where the state of Niger is today, people lived as early as the Stone Age. Until about 2000 BC the area that is now desert was much more humid and provided a good habitat for farming. From 5000 BC Most of the hunters and gatherers settled down and practiced agriculture. In the “Cattle Age” (4000-2000 BC) nomads wandered around with their herds of cattle. As the climate got drier, people moved south. Camels gained in importance because they can cope well with drought.
Between West Africa and the Mediterranean there has been a lively trade (trans-Saharan trade) since antiquity and then increasingly in the Middle Ages, which also led through the area of today’s Niger. Slaves and salt were brought to the Mediterranean, horses, fabrics and weapons were given in return. From the 8th century onwards, Islam spread to West Africa with the Arabs.
Influence of the great West African empires of the Middle Ages
Some of the great empires of Africa in the Middle Ages extended to today’s national territory. The Mali empire had its greatest expansion in the 14th century to a north-western corner of today’s state of Niger (see Mali). The Songhai Empire expanded even further in the 15th and 16th centuries. A strip of today’s eastern border of Niger was under the influence of the Kanem Bornu Empire. The house states were in the south.
At the end of the 19th century it was mainly French who came to what is now Niger. Borders were drawn and changed. Military expeditions were carried out against the resistance of Hausa and Tuareg. In 1904 the French colony “Upper Senegal and Niger” was founded, and in 1911 Niger became a separate military district.
When all resistance was suppressed in 1921, Niger became a French colony. It belonged to French West Africa, as the union of the French colonies in West Africa was called.
In 1958, as a country located in Africa according to ehealthfacts, Niger became an autonomous republic and in 1960 it became fully independent, as were many other African states during this period. Hamani Diori became the country’s first president and remained in office until 1974.
From one military coup to the next
From 1974 onwards, the military repeatedly came to power, most recently in 2010. The poor economic situation, famines and corruption repeatedly led to great dissatisfaction among the population. In 2011 Mahamadou Issoufou won the elections and became the new president.
1990-1995 and 2007-2009: Tuareg rebellion
The Tuareg in Niger and Mali rebelled against their oppression and marginalization. There was no help from the state in times of drought. The Tuareg also strived for their own state. In 1990 there was a civil war, which ended in 1995 with a peace agreement. But the Tuareg did not see their demands implemented enough.
They also protested in 2007 that the Niger government had started mining uranium on traditional Tuareg pastures. The Tuareg fought against this with an uprising. A peace agreement was signed in 2009. See also Mali on Tuareg rebels.