Niger (was a former French colony to the north of Nigeria) and Nigeria (was a former British colony) were both named after the Niger, river that flows through them. The Arab legacy on the continent, with the spread of Islam, was also the source of some of these African country names.
Niger officially; 'Republic of Niger'. Is landlocked by 7 other western African countries. It is bounded on the northwest by Algeria, on the northeast by Libya, on the east by Chad, on the south by Nigeria and Benin, and on the west by Burkina Faso and Mali. The capital is Niamey. The Niger River, which flows through the southwestern part of the territory. (The name Niger derives it meaning from; “river among rivers,” in the Tamashek language.)
One of the central themes of the History of Niger is the interaction between the 'Tuareg' and the 'Tubu', Nomads of the vast Saharan north and south. There interaction is peculiar because; their way of life and civilizations is totally opposite! Among the agriculturalists the main ethnic groups are the Songhai-Zarma in the west, the Hausa in the centre, and the Kanuri in the east. The Hausa have always been the most numerous. They constitute nearly half of the total population of Niger.
In the 14th Century, the Tuareg-controlled the kingdom of; Takedda, west of the Aïr Massif who played a prominent role in long-distance trade. This is owing to the importance of its copper mines. Copper was then used as a currency throughout western Africa. Archaeological evidence attests to the existence of communities of agriculturalists, probably Songhai-speaking, in the kingdom of Takedda. Takedda was succeeded at an unknown date by the Berber kingdom of Sultanate of Agadez.
For many Centuries the south eastern third of present-day Niger, constituted one of the most important provinces of the Kanuri empire of; Bornu. The might of Bornu was based on the control of a number of salt-producing sites and of long-distance trade, notably along the string of oases between Lake Chad and the Fezzan via Kawar.
The great drought of about 1735–56, was the prelude to the present dry cycle. Which set in about 1880 and had a tremendous effect upon the natural environment. This may explain why the oases between Lake Chad and Kawar disappeared. It may perhaps also explain in part why the Tuareg were able to extend their control over a fair portion of the sedentary south.
At the time of: the 'Colonial Conquest'. The regions the French moulded into an entity, was known as Niger. However, these regions had played a significant role as zones of refuge—the west after 1591 and the Moroccan conquest of the Songhai empire and the Hausa region much later. After the 1804, in both cases the refugees were people who had lost in the military conflicts, as well as the religious struggles, of their respective homelands. Thus both regions became bastions of “traditionalism” in the face of partly alien conquerors, attempting to impose Islam.
Thus French conquest began in earnest only in 1899. It nearly met with disaster owing to the local population’s determined resistance against the notorious expedition in 1899 led by French Captains: 'Paul Voulet and Julien Chanoine'. It was only in 1922, after the severe drought and famine of 1913–15 and the Tuareg uprising of 1916–17, that the French felt safe enough to establish a regular administration under civilian control. By then the power of the Tuareg had been broken.
Through the reforms of 1946, France’s African subjects, were in theory granted full citizenship. Thus Niger, along with the other colonies in Black Africa, were represented in the French parliament. These reforms secured the ascent of a tiny new elite, the so-called: 'évolués', (those who had been trained in French schools). Many were descendants of former slaves, and most were Songhai-Zarma. Indeed, the people of the west had proved to be far more open to European influence than, for instance, the Hausa. At least until 1954–55 the French administration was headed for 12 years by; Governor Jean Toby. Who remained firmly in control of the political situation. The first local executive, was established in 1957. Its head was the left-wing trade unionist Djibo Bakary,. He had advocated a; 'NO' vote, in the referendum of 1958. However 72 percent of the votes cast were in favour of a continued link with France! Nevertheless, under Bakary’s successor (who was his cousin and fellow Songhai-Zarma)-Hamani Diori, independence was proclaimed on August 3, 1960.
Many years later, despite the apparent referendum and election victories, Mamadou Tandja and his actions remained unpopular with many, and on February 18, 2010, he was deposed in a coup. Although reports on the incident were initially varied and conflicting, it was eventually announced that Tandja and other members of his government had been seized by soldiers and were being detained. Later that evening, the coup participants announced: "the formation of a military junta; 'the Supreme Council for the Restoration of Democracy'. They had also suspended the country’s constitution, dissolved all state institutions, and intended to restore democracy."
On the 23rd of February, this military Junta or group named: former cabinet minister Mahamadou Danda as prime minister, and a 20-member transition government was named on March 1. A new constitution, which curbed the presidential powers which Mamadou Tandja had introduced in 2009, was approved by voters in October 2010.
The Junta held presidential and legislative elections on January 31, 2011. Various Islamic militant groups had become more active in the region after, Issoufou took office. Attacks by those groups, within Niger became a growing concern! Although there were isolated incidents involving al-Qaeda, in the Islamic Maghrib. Most notable was the threat from Boko Haram, which was based in neighbouring Nigeria and had terrorized that country for years before launching attacks in nearby countries. In 2015 it launched an attack in southern Niger. Niger joined with other countries in the region to combat the group and soon saw progress on that front! Niger also strove to accommodate tens of thousands of refugees who had fled from Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and settled in southern Niger.