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The Niger River (; , ) is the main
river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another river. In some cases, a river flows into the ground and becomes dry at the end of its course without reaching another body of wate ...

river
of
West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania ...

West Africa
, extending about . Its
drainage basin A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the atmospheric sciences Atmospheric science is the study of the Earth's atmosphere File:Atmosphere gas proportions.svg, Compos ...

drainage basin
is in area. Its source is in the
Guinea Highlands 300px, Map of the Guinea Highlands The Guinea Highlands is a densely forested mountainous plateau extending from central Guinea Guinea (), officially the Republic of Guinea (french: link=no, République de Guinée), is a coastal country in Wes ...
in southeastern
Guinea Guinea (), officially the Republic of Guinea (french: link=no, République de Guinée), is a coastal country in West Africa. Guinea borders the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Guinea-Bissau to the northwest, Senegal to the north, Mali to the no ...

Guinea
near the
Sierra Leone Sierra Leone (, also , ), officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, informally Salone, is a country on the southwest coast of West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 co ...

Sierra Leone
border. It runs in a crescent through
Mali Mali (; ), officially the Republic of Mali (french: République du Mali; bm, ߡߊߟߌ ߞߊ ߝߊߛߏߖߊߡߊߣߊ, Mali ka Fasojamana, ff, 𞤈𞤫𞤲𞥆𞤣𞤢𞥄𞤲𞤣𞤭 𞤃𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭, Renndaandi Maali, ar, جمهورية م ...

Mali
,
Niger ) , official_languages = French , languages_type = National language A national language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed languag ...

Niger
, on the border with
Benin Benin ( , ; french: Bénin ), officially the Republic of Benin (french: République du Bénin) (formerly known as Dahomey The Kingdom of Dahomey () was a West African kingdom located within present-day Benin Benin ( , ; french: ...
and then through
Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as we ...

Nigeria
, discharging through a massive
delta Delta commonly refers to: * Delta (letter) (Δ or δ), a letter of the Greek alphabet * River delta, a landform at the mouth of a river * D (NATO phonetic alphabet: "Delta"), the fourth letter of the modern English alphabet * Delta Air Lines, an Ame ...

delta
, known as the
Niger Delta The Niger Delta is the delta Delta commonly refers to: * Delta (letter) (Δ or δ), a letter of the Greek alphabet * River delta, a landform at the mouth of a river * D (NATO phonetic alphabet: "Delta"), the fourth letter of the modern English ...
(or the Oil Rivers), into the
Gulf of Guinea pt, Golfo da Guiné , native_name_lang= , image= Gulf of Guinea (English).jpg , caption = Gulf of Guinea map showing the chain of islands formed by the Cameroon line The Cameroon line (, ) is a chain of volcanoes. It includes islands in the G ...
in the
Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
. The Niger is the third-longest river in Africa, exceeded only by the
Nile The Nile, , Bohairic , lg, Kiira , Nobiin Nobiin, or Mahas, is a Northern Nubian languages, Nubian language of the Nilo-Saharan languages, Nilo-Saharan language family. "Nobiin" is the genitive case, genitive form of ''Nòòbíí'' ("Nub ...

Nile
and the
Congo River The Congo River ( kg, Nzâdi Kôngo, french: Fleuve Congo, pt, Rio Congo), formerly also known as the Zaire River, is the second longest river in Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous , after in both case ...
(also known as the Zaïre River). Its main
tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream A stream is a body of water (Lysefjord) in Norway Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway,Names in the official and recognised languages: Bokmål Bokmål (, ; literally "book tongue") ...
is the
Benue River The Benue River (french: la Bénoué), previously known as the Chadda River or Tchadda, is the major tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary ...
.


Etymology

The Niger has different names in the different languages of the region: * Fula: ''Maayo Jaaliba'' * Manding: ''Jeliba'' or ''Joliba'' "great river" *
Tuareg The Tuareg people (; also spelt Twareg or Touareg; endonym An endonym (from Greek: , 'inner' + , 'name'; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name A name is a term used for identification by an external observer. They can identify ...
: ''Egerew n-Igerewen'' "river of rivers" *
Songhay
Songhay
: ''Isa'' "the river" * Zarma: ''Isa Beeri'' "great river" *
Hausa Hausa may refer to: * Hausa people, an ethnic group of West Africa * Hausa language, spoken in West Africa * Hausa Kingdoms, a historical collection of Hausa city-states * Hausa (horse) or Dongola horse, an African breed of riding horse See also

: ''Kwara'' *
Nupe The National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) was a United Kingdom, British trade union which existed between 1908 and 1993. It represented public sector workers in local government, the Health Service, universities, and water authorities. Histor ...
: ''Èdù'' *
Yoruba Yoruba may refer to: * Yoruba people The Yoruba people () are a Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the U ...
: ''Ọya'' "named after the Yoruba goddess
Ọya Ọya ( Yorùbá: ''Ọya'', also known as Oyá or Oiá; Yàńsàn-án or Yansã; and Iansá or Iansã in Latin America * ht, Amerik Latin, link=no * pt, América Latina, link=no , image = Latin America (orthographic projection).svg , area ...
, who is believed to embody the river" *
Igbo Igbo may refer to: * Igbo people, an ethnic group of Nigeria * Igbo language, their language * anything related to Igboland, a cultural region in Nigeria See also

* Ibo (disambiguation) * Igbo mythology * Igbo music * Igbo art * * Igbo-Ukwu, ...
: ''Orimiri'' or ''Orimili'' "great water" *
Ijaw Ijaw may refer to: *Ijaw people Ijaw people are a mixture of people majorly a tribe in Bayelsa in South South region in Niger Delta in Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa. It borders ...
: ''Toru Beni'' "the river water" The earliest use of the name "Niger" for the river is by
Leo Africanus Joannes Leo Africanus (born al-Hasan ibn Muhammad al-Wazzan Fez, Morocco, al-Fasi, ar, حسن ابن محمد الوزان الفاسي; c. 1494 – c. 1554) was a Berbers, Berber Al-Andalus, Andalusi diplomat and author who is best known f ...
in his '' Della descrittione dell’Africa et delle cose notabili che ivi sono'' published in Italian in 1550. The name may come from
Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an ethnic group mostly concentrated in North Africa, specifically Morocco ) , ...

Berber
phrase ''ger-n-ger'' meaning "river of rivers". As
Timbuktu Timbuktu ( ; french: Tombouctou; tmh, label=Tuareg languages, Tuareg, script=Tfng, ⵜⵏⴱⴾⵜ, Tin Buqt; Koyra Chiini: ) is a city in Mali, situated north of the Niger River. The town is the capital of the Tombouctou Region, one of the e ...

Timbuktu
was the southern end of the principal
Trans-Saharan trade Trans-Saharan trade requires travel across the Sahara between sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically and ethnoculturally, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, i ...
route to the western Mediterranean, it was the source of most European knowledge of the region. Medieval European maps applied the name ''Niger'' to the middle reaches of the river, in modern Mali, but ''Quorra (Kworra)'' to the lower reaches in modern Nigeria, as these were not recognized at the time as being the same river. When European colonial powers began to send ships along the west coast of Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries, the
Senegal River The Senegal River ( ar, نهر السنغال ''Nahr As-sinigāl'', french: Fleuve Sénégal) is a long river in West Africa that forms the Mauritania–Senegal border, border between Senegal and Mauritania. It has a drainage basin of , a mean ...
was often postulated to be the seaward end of the Niger. The Niger Delta, pouring into the Atlantic through
mangrove swamp A mangrove swamp is a distinct saline woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the '' plurale tantum'' woods), a low-density forest A forest is ...

mangrove swamp
s and thousands of
distributaries A distributary, or a distributary channel, is a stream A stream is a body of water with surface water flowing within the stream bed, bed and Bank (geography), banks of a Channel (geography), channel. The flow of a stream is controlled by t ...
along more than , was thought to be coastal wetlands. It was only with the 18th-century visits of Mungo Park, who travelled down the Niger River and visited the great Sahelian empires of his day, that Europeans correctly identified the course of the Niger and extended the name to its entire course. The modern nations of Nigeria and Niger take their names from the river, marking contesting national claims by colonial powers of the "Upper", "Lower" and "Middle" Niger river basin during the
Scramble for Africa The Scramble for Africa, also called the Partition of Africa, or the Conquest of Africa, was the invasion, occupation, division, and colonisation of Africa, colonization of most of Africa by seven Western Europe, Western European powers during a ...
at the end of the 19th century.


Geography

The Niger River is a relatively "clear" river, carrying only a tenth as much sediment as the Nile because the Niger's headwaters lie in ancient rocks that provide little
silt Silt is granular material A granular material is a conglomeration of discrete solid, macroscopic scale, macroscopic particles characterized by a loss of energy whenever the particles interact (the most common example would be friction when gra ...
. Like the Nile, the Niger floods yearly; this begins in September, peaks in November, and finishes by May. An unusual feature of the river is the
Inner Niger Delta The Inner Niger Delta, also known as the Macina or Masina, is the inland delta of the Niger River. It is an area of fluvial wetlands, lakes and floodplains in the semi-arid Sahel area of central Mali, just south of the Sahara desert. Location a ...
, which forms where its
gradient In vector calculus Vector calculus, or vector analysis, is concerned with differentiation Differentiation may refer to: Business * Differentiation (economics), the process of making a product different from other similar products * Prod ...

gradient
suddenly decreases. The result is a region of braided streams,
marsh A marsh is a wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently (for years or decades) or seasonally (for weeks or months). Flooding results in oxygen-free (Anoxic waters, anoxic) processes prevail ...

marsh
es, and large lakes; the seasonal floods make the Delta extremely productive for both fishing and agriculture. The river loses nearly two-thirds of its
potential flow around a NACA 0012 airfoil at 11° angle of attack, with upper and lower streamtubes identified. In fluid dynamics, potential flow describes the velocity field as the gradient of a scalar function: the velocity potential. As a result, a potential ...

potential flow
in the Inner Delta between
Ségou Ségou ( Bambara: ߛߋߓߎ tr. Segu) is a town and an urban commune in south-central Mali Mali (; ), officially the Republic of Mali (french: République du Mali; bm, ߡߊߟߌ ߞߊ ߝߊߛߏߖߊߡߊߣߊ, Mali ka Fasojamana, ff, 𞤈𞤫 ...

Ségou
and
Timbuktu Timbuktu ( ; french: Tombouctou; tmh, label=Tuareg languages, Tuareg, script=Tfng, ⵜⵏⴱⴾⵜ, Tin Buqt; Koyra Chiini: ) is a city in Mali, situated north of the Niger River. The town is the capital of the Tombouctou Region, one of the e ...

Timbuktu
to seepage and evaporation. All the water from the
Bani River The Bani River is the principal tributary of the Niger River in Mali. The river is formed from the confluence of the Baoulé River (Bani River), Baoulé and Bagoe River, Bagoé rivers some east of Bamako and it merges with the Niger near Mopti. ...

Bani River
, which flows into the Delta at
Mopti Mopti (Bambara language, Bambara: ߡߏߕߌ tr. Moti) is a town and an Communes of Mali, urban commune in the Inner Niger Delta region of Mali. The town is the capital of the Mopti Cercle and the Mopti Region. Situated 630 km northeast of Bama ...

Mopti
, does not compensate for the 'losses'. The average 'loss' is estimated at 31 km3/year but varies considerably between years.
FAO The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'alimentation et l'agriculture; it, Organizzazione delle Nazioni Unite per l'Alimentazione e l'Agricoltura is a specialized agency ...

FAO
br>Irrigation potential in Africa: A basin approach, The Niger Basin
, 1997
The river is then joined by various tributaries but also loses more water to evaporation. The quantity of water entering Nigeria measured in Yola was estimated at 25 km3/year before the 1980s and at 13.5 km3/year during the 1980s. The most important tributary is the
Benue River The Benue River (french: la Bénoué), previously known as the Chadda River or Tchadda, is the major tributary A tributary, or affluent, is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem (or parent) river or a lake. A tributary ...
which merges with the Niger at
Lokoja Lokoja is a city in Nigeria Nigeria (), officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations defines Western Africa as the 17 count ...

Lokoja
in Nigeria. The total volume of tributaries in Nigeria is six times higher than the inflow into Nigeria, with a flow near the mouth of the river standing at 177.0 km3/year before the 1980s and 147.3 km3/year during the 1980s.


Course

The Niger takes one of the most unusual routes of any major river, a
boomerang A boomerang is a thrown tool, typically constructed as a flat airfoil, that is designed to spin about an axis perpendicular to the direction of its flight. A returning boomerang is designed to return to the thrower. It is well known as a weap ...

boomerang
shape that baffled geographers for two centuries. Its source ( Tembakounda) is 240 km (150 mi) inland from the Atlantic Ocean, but the river runs directly away from the sea into the
Sahara Desert The Sahara (, ; ar, الصحراء الكبرى, ', 'the Greatest Desert') is a desert on the . With an area of , it is the largest hot in the world and the third largest desert overall, smaller only than the deserts of and the northern . ...

Sahara Desert
, then takes a sharp right turn near the ancient city of
Timbuktu Timbuktu ( ; french: Tombouctou; tmh, label=Tuareg languages, Tuareg, script=Tfng, ⵜⵏⴱⴾⵜ, Tin Buqt; Koyra Chiini: ) is a city in Mali, situated north of the Niger River. The town is the capital of the Tombouctou Region, one of the e ...

Timbuktu
(Tombouctou) and heads southeast to the Gulf of Guinea. This strange geography apparently came about because the Niger River is two ancient rivers joined together. The upper Niger, from the source west of Timbuktu to the bend in the current river near Timbuktu, once emptied into a now dry lake to the east northeast of Timbuktu, while the lower Niger started to the south of Timbuktu and flowed south into the Gulf of Guinea. Over time upstream erosion by the lower Niger resulted in
stream capture , leaving a wind gap Stream capture, river capture, river piracy or stream piracy is a geomorphology, geomorphological phenomenon occurring when a stream or river Drainage system (geomorphology), drainage system or Drainage basin, watershed is dive ...

stream capture
of the upper Niger by the lower Niger. The northern part of the river, known as the ''Niger bend'', is an important area because it is the major river and source of water in that part of the Sahara. This made it the focal point of trade across the western Sahara and the centre of the Sahelian kingdoms of
Mali Mali (; ), officially the Republic of Mali (french: République du Mali; bm, ߡߊߟߌ ߞߊ ߝߊߛߏߖߊߡߊߣߊ, Mali ka Fasojamana, ff, 𞤈𞤫𞤲𞥆𞤣𞤢𞥄𞤲𞤣𞤭 𞤃𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭, Renndaandi Maali, ar, جمهورية م ...
and
Gao Gao , or Gawgaw/Kawkaw, is a city in Mali Mali (; ), officially the Republic of Mali (french: République du Mali; bm, ߡߊߟߌ ߞߊ ߝߊߛߏߖߊߡߊߣߊ, Mali ka Fasojamana, ff, 𞤈𞤫𞤲𞥆𞤣𞤢𞥄𞤲𞤣𞤭 𞤃𞤢𞥄𞤤 ...
. The surrounding Niger River Basin is one of the distinct physiographic sections of the Sudan province, which in turn is part of the larger African massive physiographic division.


History

At the end of the African humid period around 5,500 years before present, the modern Sahara Desert, once a
savanna A savanna or savannah is a mixed woodland A woodland () is, in the broad sense, land covered with trees, or in a narrow sense, synonymous with wood (or in the U.S., the ''plurale tantum'' woods), a low-density forest forming open habitats ...

savanna
, underwent
desertification Desertification is a type of land degradation Land degradation is a process in which the value of the biophysical environment is affected by a combination of human-induced processes acting upon the land. It is viewed as any change or distu ...
. As plant species sharply declined, humans migrated to the fertile Niger River bend region, with abundant resources including plants for grazing and fish. Like in the
Fertile Crescent The Fertile Crescent is a crescent-shaped region in the Middle East The Middle East ( ar, الشرق الأوسط, ISO 233 The international standard An international standard is a technical standard A technical standard is an establishe ...

Fertile Crescent
, many food crops were
domesticated Domestication is a sustained multi-generational relationship in which one group of organisms assumes a significant degree of influence over the reproduction and care of another group to secure a more predictable supply of resources from that sec ...

domesticated
in the Niger River region, including yams,
African rice ''Oryza glaberrima'', commonly known as African rice, is one of the two domesticated rice species. It was first domesticated and grown in West Africa around 3,000 years ago. It is now rarely sold in West African markets, having been replaced by As ...

African rice
(
Oryza glaberrima ''Oryza glaberrima'', commonly known as African rice, is one of the two domesticated rice Rice is the seed of the Poaceae, grass species ''Oryza sativa'' (Asian rice) or less commonly ''Oryza glaberrima'' (African rice). The name wild rice is ...
), and
pearl millet Pearl millet (''Cenchrus americanus'', commonly known as the synonym ''Pennisetum glaucum''; also known as 'Bajra' in Hindi, 'Sajje' in Kannada, 'Kambu' in Tamil, 'Bajeer' in Kumaoni and 'Gero' in Hausa) is the most widely grown type of millet ...

pearl millet
. The Sahara
aridification Aridification is the process of a region becoming increasingly arid A region is arid when it is characterized by a severe lack of available water, to the extent of hindering or preventing the growth and development Development or developing may ...
may have triggered, or at least accelerated, these domestications. Agriculture, as well as fishing and animal husbandry, led to the rise of settlements like
Djenné-Djenno Djenné-Djenno (also Jenne-Jeno; ) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organiz ...
in the Inner Delta, now a
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for h ...
. The region of the Niger bend, in the Sahel, was a key origin and destination for
trans-Saharan trade Trans-Saharan trade requires travel across the Sahara between sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically and ethnoculturally, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, i ...
, fueling the wealth of great empires such as the
Ghana Ghana (), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as well as .Paul R. ...
,
Mali Mali (; ), officially the Republic of Mali (french: République du Mali; bm, ߡߊߟߌ ߞߊ ߝߊߛߏߖߊߡߊߣߊ, Mali ka Fasojamana, ff, 𞤈𞤫𞤲𞥆𞤣𞤢𞥄𞤲𞤣𞤭 𞤃𞤢𞥄𞤤𞤭, Renndaandi Maali, ar, جمهورية م ...
, and
Songhai Empire The Songhai Empire (also transliterated as Songhay) was a state that dominated the western Sahel The Sahel (; ar, ساحل ' , "coast, shore") is the ecoclimatic and of in between the to the north and the to the south. Having a , it st ...
s. Major trading ports along the river, including Timbuktu and Gao, became centers of learning and culture. Trade to the Niger bend region also brought Islam to the region in approximately the 14th century CE. Much of the northern Niger basin remains Muslim today, although the southern reaches of the river tend to be Christian. Classical writings on the interior of the Sahara begins with
Ptolemy Claudius Ptolemy (; grc-koi, Κλαύδιος Πτολεμαῖος, , ; la, Claudius Ptolemaeus; AD) was a mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes ...
, who mentions two rivers in the desert: the "Gir" (Γειρ) and farther south, the "Nigir" (Νιγειρ). The first has been since identified as the Wadi Ghir on the north western edge of the
Tuat Tuat, or Touat, is a natural region of desert in central Algeria that contains a string of small oasis, oases. In the past, the oases were important for Camel caravan, caravans crossing the Sahara. Geography Tuat lies to the south of the Grand E ...
, along the borders of modern
Morocco ) , image_map = Morocco (orthographic projection, WS claimed).svg , map_caption = Location of Morocco in northwest Africa.Dark green: Undisputed territory of Morocco.Lighter green: Western Sahara, a United Nations lis ...

Morocco
and
Algeria ) , image_map = Algeria (centered orthographic projection).svg , map_caption = , image_map2 = , capital = Algiers , coordinates = , largest_city = capital , religion = , official_languages = , languages_type = Oth ...

Algeria
. This would likely have been as far as Ptolemy would have had consistent records. The Ni-Ger was likely speculation, although the name stuck as that of a river south of the Mediterranean's "known world".
Suetonius Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (), commonly known as Suetonius ( ; c. AD 69 – after AD 122), was a Roman historianRoman historiography stretches back to at least the 3rd century BC and was indebted to earlier Greek historiography. The Romans ...

Suetonius
reports Romans traveling to the "Ger", although in reporting any river's name derived from a
Berber language The Berber languages, also known as the Amazigh languages (Berber name: , ; Neo-Tifinagh: ⵜⴰⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵜ, Tuareg Tifinagh: ⵜⵎⵣⵗⵜ, , ), are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family. They comprise a group of closely related la ...

Berber language
, in which "gher" means "watercourse", confusion could easily arise.
Pliny Pliny may refer to: People from antiquity * Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), ancient Roman nobleman, scientist, historian, and author of ''Naturalis Historia'' (''Pliny's Natural History'') * Pliny the Younger (died 113), ancient Roman statesman, ...

Pliny
connected these two rivers as one long watercourse which flowed (via lakes and underground sections) into the Nile, a notion which persisted in the Arab and European worlds – and further added the Senegal River as the "Ger" – until the 19th century. While the true course of the Niger was presumably known to locals, it was a mystery to the outside world until the late 18th century. The connection to the Nile River was made not simply because this was then known as the great river of "
Aethiopia Ancient Aethiopia, ( gr, Αἰθιοπία, translit=Aithiopia; also known as Ethiopia) first appears as a geographical term in classical documents in reference to the upper Nile region, as well as certain areas south of the Sahara desert. Its ...
" (by which all lands south of the desert were called by Classical writers), but because the Nile like the Niger flooded every summer. Through the descriptions of Leo Africanus and even
Ibn Battuta Ibn Battuta (; 24 February 13041368/1369); fully: ; Arabic: was a Berber Berber or Berbers may refer to: Culture * Berbers Berbers or ''Imazighen'' ( ber, translit=Imaziɣen, ⵉⵎⴰⵣⵉⵖⵏ, ⵎⵣⵗⵏ; singular: , ) are an e ...
– despite his visit to the river – the myth connecting the Niger to the Nile persisted. Many European expeditions to plot the river were unsuccessful. In 1788 the African Association was formed in England to promote the exploration of Africa in the hopes of locating the Niger, and in June 1796 the Scottish explorer Mungo Park was the first European to lay eyes on the middle portion of the river since antiquity (and perhaps ever). He wrote an account in 1799, '' Travels in the Interior of Africa''. Park proposed a theory that the Niger and Congo were the same river. Although the Niger Delta would seem like an obvious candidate, it was a maze of streams and swamps that did not look like the head of a great river. He died in 1806 on a second expedition attempting to prove the Niger-Congo connection. The theory became the leading one in Europe. Several failed expeditions followed; however the mystery of the Niger would not be solved for another 25 years, in 1830, when Richard Lander and his brother became the first Europeans to follow the course of the Niger to the ocean. In 1946, three Frenchmen, Jean Sauvy, Pierre Ponty and movie maker
Jean Rouch Jean Rouch (; 31 May 1917 – 18 February 2004) was a French filmmaker and anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Society, soc ...

Jean Rouch
, former civil servants in the African
French colonies From the 16th to the 17th centuries, the First French colonial empire stretched from a total area at its peak in 1680 to over , the second largest empire in the world at the time behind only the Spanish Empire. During the 19th and 20th centurie ...
, set out to travel the entire length of the river, as no one else seemed to have done previously. They travelled from the beginning of the river near
Kissidougou Kissidougou (N’ko N'Ko () is a script devised by Solomana Kante in 1949, as a writing system for the Manding languages of West Africa. The term ''N'Ko'', which means ''I say'' in all Manding languages, is also used for the N'Ko language, Mandin ...

Kissidougou
in Guinea, walking at first till a raft could be used, then changing to various local crafts as the river broadened and changed. Two of them reached the ocean on March 25, 1947, with Pierre Ponty having left the expedition at
Niamey Niamey () is the Capital city, capital and largest city of Niger. Niamey lies on the Niger River, primarily situated on the east bank. Niamey's population was counted as 1,026,848 as of the 2012 census. As of 2017, population projections sho ...

Niamey
, somewhat past the halfway mark. They carried a , the resulting footage giving Jean Rouch his first two ethnographic documentaries: "Au pays des mages noirs", and "La chasse à l’hippopotame". A camera was used to illustrate Jean Rouch's subsequent book "Le Niger En Pirogue" (Fernand Nathan, 1954), as well as Jean Sauvy's “Descente du Niger” (L'Harmattan 2001). A typewriter was brought as well, on which Pierre Ponty produced newspaper articles he mailed out whenever possible.


Management and development

The water in the Niger River basin is partially regulated through dams. In Mali the Sélingué Dam on the Sankarani River is mainly used for hydropower but also permits irrigation. Two diversion dams, one at Sotuba just downstream of
Bamako Bamako ( bm, ߓߡߊ߬ߞߐ߬ ''Bàmakɔ̌'') is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ...

Bamako
, and one at Markala, just downstream of
Ségou Ségou ( Bambara: ߛߋߓߎ tr. Segu) is a town and an urban commune in south-central Mali Mali (; ), officially the Republic of Mali (french: République du Mali; bm, ߡߊߟߌ ߞߊ ߝߊߛߏߖߊߡߊߣߊ, Mali ka Fasojamana, ff, 𞤈𞤫 ...

Ségou
, are used to irrigate about 54,000 hectares. In Nigeria the , Shiroro Dam, Zungeru Dam, and Jebba Hydroelectric Power Station, Jebba Dam are used to generate hydropower. The water resources of the Niger River are under pressure because of increased water abstraction for irrigation. The construction of dams for hydropower generation is underway or envisaged in order to alleviate chronic power shortages in the countries of the Niger basin. The FAO estimates the irrigation potential of all countries in the Niger river basin at 2.8 million hectares. Only 0.93m hectares (ha) were under irrigation in the late 1980s. The irrigation potential was estimated at 1.68m ha in Nigeria 0.56m ha in Mali, and the actual irrigated area was 0.67m ha and 0.19m ha.


See also

* * * ''The River Niger'' – 1972 play


Notes


References


Sources

* Plumb, J. H. "The Niger Quest" ''History Today'' (1952) 2#4 pp 243–251. online * * *


External links


Information and a map of the Niger's watershed
http://www.wri.org/resources

(link broken)
Niger Currents: Exploring life and technology along the Niger River



International law and the Niger River


Bibliography on Water Resources and International Law
Peace Palace Library * Fabio Spadi, "The ICJ Judgment in the Benin-Niger Border Dispute: the interplay of titles and ‘effectivités’ under the uti possidetis juris principle"
''Leiden Journal of International Law''
https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/13541(2005) 4, pp. 777–794. {{Authority control Niger River, Benin–Niger border International rivers of Africa Inner Niger Delta Physiographic sections Rivers of Benin Rivers of Guinea Rivers of Mali Rivers of Niger Rivers of Nigeria Border rivers