The majority of Nigerians live in the southern and southwestern parts of the country, while the desert in the north is largely uninhabited.
Population growth is very high. Around half of Nigerians are younger than 15 years.
Niger is one of the least urbanized countries in the world. More than 80 percent of the residents live in the countryside.
- COUNTRYAAH.COM: Key populations estimated size and data of Niger, including population density of how many people per square mile. Also included are facts for population and language.
In the country there are about ten larger groups of people. The largest are hauss living in the southeast and constitute a little more than half of the country’s population. The second largest is songhai-djerma in southwestern Niger. Around a fifth of the residents are nomads or half-nomads, including Tuareg, Fulani and Kanuri.
Both hausa and songhai-djerma are black farming people. The Tuaregs are a Berber people, that is, they are descended from the people who lived in North Africa before the Arabs conquered the area from the 600s onwards. Nowadays, most Berbers are Arabized. The Tuaregs have for centuries lived nomadic life and engaged in trading in the Sahara. In modern times, however, the drought has forced them south to the savannah, where they have come into conflict with other ethnic groups. The Tuaregs considered themselves neglected in the democratization process that started in Niger in the early 1990s, and armed rebels demanded self-determination in the Northwest. Since then, several peace agreements have been concluded between the rebels and the government (see Modern History).
The Constitution prohibits slavery, but it still exists, especially among Tuareg and Arabs. Independent estimates suggest that just over 40,000 Nigerians live under slave-like conditions (see Social conditions).
Armed uprisings in neighboring countries have sent large streams of refugees across the border to Niger. From 2012 onwards, Malays fled from confrontation between government forces and Tuaregs who have occupied large parts of northern Mali. A few years later, the Islamist movement Boko Haram’s ravages in northern Nigeria began to spill over the border into Niger. Boko Haram has moved its base closer to Niger and is also making raids into the southwestern part of the country where the movement provides food and weapons and recruits new followers.
There is no reliable information on the number of refugees. Only a minor part are registered by the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR which assists the refugees. Tens of thousands are registered with UNHCR but the number of Nigerians fleeing in Niger was estimated in 2015 to be over one hundred thousand. Almost as many have been fleeing inland due to the Boko Haram attacks. The influx of refugees has led to increased competition for land for grazing and cultivation, which has triggered conflicts between refugees and the local population.
In Niger, some 20 languages are spoken. French is the official language and is used in government administration, education and in the media. However, the majority of Nigerians speak Hausa, which has been spread across West Africa through the Hausa people’s extensive trade. Djerma, Fulani and Arabic dialects are also spoken. The language of the Tuaregs is called tamajak.
FACTS – POPULATION AND LANGUAGE
hausa 56%, songhai-djerma 22%, fulani 8.5%, tuareger 8%, kanouri 4%, kanuri-nanga, toubou and others
Number of residents
21 477 348 (2017)
Number of residents per square kilometer
Percentage of residents in the cities
16.4 percent (2017)
Nativity / birth
48.1 per 1000 residents (2016)
Mortality / mortality
9.7 per 1000 residents (2016)
3.8 percent (2017)
7.2 number of births per woman (2016)
Percentage of women
49.9 percent (2017)
60 years (2016)
Life expectancy for women
61 years (2016)
Life expectancy for men
59 years (2016)
French is official language, largest native languages are Hausa, other important languages are djerma, fulani, arabic and tamajak.