Niger is a landlocked country located in West Africa. The country obtained its name from the Niger River, one of the main rivers of West Africa, extending about 2,600 miles. Niger has a land area of approximately 490,000 square miles, making it West Africa’s largest country. More than three-quarters of the land lies in the Sahara Desert. Niger is a developing country, consistently ranking near the bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index. The economy is dependent on subsistence agriculture with a bit of export of raw material such as uranium ore. Niger has one of the rapidly growing populations in Africa. Residents of Niger are known as "Nigeriens."
Demographics of Niger
As of 2017, the country has a population of approximately 20.6 million people compared to only 2.4 million in 1950. The current population growth rate is 3.3%, with an average of 7 children per mother. The high growth rate is a major source of concern for both the government and international agencies. Niger is a multi-ethnic country. Hausa is the largest ethnic group, accounting for 53% of the population. Other major ethnic groups include Zarma-Songhai, Tuareg, Fula, and Arab. French is the official language of Niger alongside ten other languages. The majority of the population is Muslim.
With such a diverse population, one would wonder how the people from Niger are collectively referred to. Since most countries around the world use their country name with an additional suffix –en or -an to refer to its people, Niger is not an exception. For instance, people from Canada are called “Canadians,” Argentina-Argentinians, Kenya-Kenyans, and so forth. However, people from Niger are referred to as “Nigerien” and not “Nigerian” as the latter refers to someone from Nigeria. Though “Nigerien” is the formal name for a resident of Niger, other sources such as the BBC and Associated Press often refer to the country’s residents as “Nigerois” to create a clear difference between residents of Niger and Nigeria. The Nigerien Society has been used to describe the long history of the several ethnic groups that lived in a single state.
Nigerien Vs Nigerian-Pronunciation
While there is evidently a difference between Nigerian and Nigerien, the difference is clearer only when the two words are written down. However, the two words almost have the same pronunciation, especially for someone of a different language, dialect, or from a region that neither speaks French nor English. In a speech, the word “Nigerien” is pronounced like it was in French. It sounds something like “nee-ZHER-ia” while “Nigerian” is pronounced as an English word and sounds like “NAI-jer-ian.” Niger was a French colony and the country’s name is locally pronounced as “nee-ZHER.” Thus, the people from Niger will automatically be pronounced after the French pronunciation of the name.
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