The Niger River

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The 25 Longest Rivers in the World
The River as a Lifeline
The River as a Boundary
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The Niger is the world's 11th-longest river at 2,590 miles. It is the largest river in western Africa.

The river begins in Guinea and runs east through Benin, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria. The source is an almost 90-degree turn south, to the Gulf of Guinea.

One of the main sources of income from the river is oil. The country of Niger is, in fact, a major oil producer.

Irrigation canals spread out from the river, bringing precious water to a sometimes starving delta. Millet and sorghum are grown. Fish in the river also form sources of food for people who live nearby. Dams are also present on the Niger. One of the largest is the Kainji Dam, at New Bussa. This dam was built both to protect against flooding and for hydroelectric power.

The unusual geography of the river has made for some exciting times for the middle of the flow. Called the Niger Bend, the middle of the river was a focal point for trade across the western Sahara and a major center of the ancient African kingdom of Mali.

Since the early days of civilization in the region, the river has been a source of power also in the constant wars that have battered the region. Struggles continue today over where to build dams and tame rapids.



 Facts About the Niger River


2,590 miles




Gulf of Guinea, Atlantic Ocean

Countries Flows Through

Benin, Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Nigeria

Cities Flows By/Through

Bamako, Tombouctou, Mali; Niamey, Niger

Graphics courtesy of ArtToday

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David White