Much of Niger is taken up by desert or semi-desert, with ancient cities such as Agadez and Zinder acting as trading centres for the caravan trains which crossed this dry region. Today, tourists join expeditions to see some of Niger’s spectacular scenery, such as the landscapes of the Ténéré Desert and Aïr Mountains.

Foods

Africa has some of the most distinctive cuisines and flavours in the world. Food varies widely, but there are commonalities across regions. Depending on what's grown locally, dishes are also influenced by the traders, immigrants and rulers who settled across the continent. Arab, Asian and European elements blend in with traditional African cooking.

Maradi

Maradi is the third largest city in Niger and became important as a trading centre with northern regions of Nigeria. Originally, the city was founded on a flood plain, but was moved higher up onto the plateau during the period of French colonial rule in the twentieth century. Maradi is particularly known for its skilled craftsmen and the groundnuts/peanuts grown in the region.

Children

Around one in six children born in sub-Saharan Africa don't live to see their fifth birthday and life can be tough for those who do.

What are the common challenges facing African children and how do their lives compare with those of children in the UK?

The W National Park

Set in an area around the River Niger, the park straddles across three countries – Niger, Benin and Burkina Faso. It gets its name from the bends of the river, which look like an upturned ‘W'. Run by the governments of the three nations, the park is best known for its populations of large African animals such as buffalo, hippo, lions, antelope and elephants. See also the Burkina Faso Map.

Cameroon map

Explore Cameroon

Explore some of the towns and cities of Cameroon, as well as its most popular national parks.

Mali map

Explore Mali

Learn more about some of the most important places and features of Mali.

Ténéré Desert

In the Ténéré Desert, temperatures frequently rise over 50°C. The landscape is characterised by large plains and sand dunes, dotted with areas of volcanic rock. Neolithic engravings can be found among the desert’s isolated outcrops and visitors can reach these by four-wheel-drive vehicles. But for longer trips into the desert, camels are often used as the best means of travel. Camel caravans operate across the region, carrying salt or taking adventure tourists on expeditions into this dramatically beautiful but harsh environment.

Games & Sport

Africa is home to arguably the oldest-recorded games and sports. While some are only known through archaeology, modern-day games and sports such as Mancala/Mankala and Nubian wrestling are very much alive today.

Of course, new sports have come along to claim the attention of Africans. You may have heard of one - it's called football.

Zinder

Founded in the 18th century, Zinder became famous for its city wall, which was built to protect the inhabitants from slave traders. When the French took over the region – see History & Politics – it became the capital of the French colony until eclipsed by Niamey. The city contains fine examples of Hausa clay buildings and visitor attractions include the Great Mosque and the 19th century Sultan’s palace, where the Sultan of Zinder still lives.

Algeria map

Explore Algeria

Find out more about some of the key towns and cities of Algeria, as well as areas of natural and geographic interest to the south.

Development

‘People are the real wealth of a nation.’ This is the belief of the United Nations, whose Millenium Development Goals provide a framework for improving the lives of millions.

It helps when nations are peaceful, stable and growing economically. But where even the poorest countries focus on health, education and creating fairer societies, more Africans have the chance of a better life.

Climate

Africa is a massive continent, with a range of climates. Some regions are hot and dry, like the Sahara, Kalahari and Namib deserts. Other parts are wet or covered in tropical rainforest. Conditions also vary by altitude, from the dry salt pans of the Danakil Depression (one of the lowest points on earth) to the snowcaps (at certain times) of the highest mountains. Weather-wise, Africa has it all!

Poverty

Across the rest of the world, absolute poverty has halved over recent decades, but in Africa it has barely fallen.

About two-fifths of the population of sub-Saharan Africa survive week by week on what someone in the UK earns from just one hour's work on the minimum wage.

Burkina Faso map

Explore Burkina Faso

Find out about some of the best places to visit in Burkina Faso.

Agadez

Lying along key caravan routes, the ancient Tuareg city of Agadez has been a trading centre since the eleventh century. The city’s mud-brick architecture is typical of the region and the Grande Mosquée, built in 1515, is considered to be one of the finest examples. The markets of Agadez are known for their wide range of goods, from animals and Tuareg clothing, to the region’s famous leatherwork and silver “Agadez crosses”. Once famous as a centre for salt, today Agadez is known for the mining of uranium.

Agriculture & Famine

A quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished and famines can impact whole regions.

Land is available to grow more food locally, but investment is needed in  technologies such as irrigation for land to be used effectively. Farmers must also adapt to climate change if they are to feed the continent's rising population.

Chad map

Explore Chad

Explore the map of Chad to find out more about some of the country's geographical features and cities.

Aïr Mountains

The Aïr Mountains (also known as the Aïr Massif) lie within the Sahara desert. Because of their greater altitude (they rise to over 1,800 metres), temperatures in this region are cooler. The mountains harbour dry river valleys (known as wadis) which channel water to pools or oases, creating areas where some farming activities can take place. Rock art from Neolithic times shows the area has long been inhabited by man.

Ingal

West of Agadez, Ingal is most famous as the meeting place for many nomadic peoples, such as the Tuareg and Fulani, many of whom come together for the annual Cure Salée festival in September. This is the time when Tuareg camel-breeders and Wodaabe cattle-herders bring their animals at the end of the rains for a celebration – see Festivals. At other times of the year, it is the place to stay with Tuareg and Fulani people. The area also boasts some of Niger’s Neolithic rock engravings.

Health

Africa has a high number of communicable diseases, which place a huge burden on healthcare systems. The vast majority of malaria cases and HIV/AIDS-related deaths occur in Africa; these two diseases currently represent the greatest threats.

With low investment in healthcare and a severe shortage of medical staff, many countries struggle to meet the health needs of their people.

Niamey

The capital Niamey is the largest city in Niger and acts as the administrative and economic centre of the country. Visitor attractions here include the Great Mosque and the National Museum, as well as some of West Africa’s best markets. Niamey lies on the Niger River, which helps to imbue the capital with a relaxed feel.

History

The first humans are thought to have lived in Africa and powerful African empires formed from the medieval age onwards.

However, today's African nations were shaped by the European powers who colonised this vast continent. Having gained their independence, many African countries are still coming to terms with the legacy left by their colonisers.

Geography & Wildlife

With its varied geography and diverse habits, the African continent is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. Though famous for its 'big game' animals, Africa has huge numbers of fish, mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and insect species, as well as many tree, plant and flower species.

Women

A woman’s status varies by country and region across Africa. In many parts, women struggle against inequality in laws, education, pay and domestic responsibilities.

Women’s health is also at risk from traditional practices such as early marriage. But with better education, girls can make more informed choices, leading to the greater development of African nations.

Nigeria map

Explore Nigeria

Explore the map of Nigeria to find out more about some of the country's geographical features, parks and cities.

Niger mapMali mapBurkina Faso mapCameroon mapIngalAgadezZinderMaradiNiameyThe W National ParkAïr MountainsTénéré DesertChad mapAlgeria mapNigeria map