Learn about the ethnicities, religions, languages, age and education levels of the Nigerien population.
At the time of independence in 1960, the population of Niger was roughly 4 million. By 2000 it had multiplied to 24 million, an exponential growth which can be attributed to the high fecundity rate (refer ‘Key Statistics’). The ethnic and linguistic diversity of the population reflects the many distinct cultures that were living side by side in this region prior to colonization – before European nations imposed a ‘national’ border around the geographical area now known as Niger. As a consequence, Niger currently has over ten formally recognised national languages. Federating factors within the society include the Hausa language – spoken by a greater proportion of the population that the ‘official language’ of French – and the Muslim religion, practiced by 99% of the population.
The vast majority of the Nigerien population is very young: 70% of the population aged under 25 years; 50% aged under 14 years. These youth of today will determine Niger’s destiny tomorrow. Of significant concern then, is the fact that just 35% of those aged 15 years and over are literate.
With such an inclement outlook, many young people have lost hope. A recent study by UNICEF/USAID which solicited the views of youth about their dreams for the future found that by and large the youth of Niger have lost hope and ‘have no dreams’. The privileged few may attend University with the aspiration of securing one of the highly prized positions in the government bureaucracy and/or with the intention of emigrating. Those without access to education – residents of communities such as Kara-Kara for example – are left to their own devices to survive by whatever means possible.