Niger River

river in West Africa

The Niger River [8] is the main river of western Africa. It is over 4180 km (2500 miles) long. It has a crescent shape and it goes through Guinea, Mali, Niger, on the border with Benin and then through Nigeria. Finally, it reaches the sea at a large delta, called the Niger Delta of the Oil Rivers. This part of the Atlantic Ocean is called the Gulf of Guinea. The Niger is the third-longest river in Africa. Only by the Nile and the Congo are longer. Its main tributary is the Benue River.

Niger River
Niger, Niamey, Pont Kennedy (1).jpg
The Pont Kennedy across the Niger at Niamey in February 2019
Map of River Niger.svg
EtymologyUnknown (possibly from Berber for River Gher or local Tuareg word n-igereouen meaning "big rivers"[1]) Or it may be a direct translation by Leo Africanus from Arabic bilād as-sūdān (بلاد السودان) "Land of the Blacks", into Latin (Niger "black").[source?]
Location
Countries
Cities
Physical characteristics
Source 
 - locationGuinea Highlands, Guinea
 - coordinates9°36′1.6848″N 10°51′52.3872″W / 9.600468000°N 10.864552000°W / 9.600468000; -10.864552000
MouthAtlantic Ocean
 - locationGulf of Guinea, Nigeria
 - coordinates5°19′20.40″N 6°28′8.99″E / 5.3223333°N 6.4691639°E / 5.3223333; 6.4691639
Length4,184 km (2,600 mi)
Basin size2,117,700 km2 (817,600 sq mi)
Discharge 
 - locationNiger Delta[2][3]
 - average6,925 m3/s (244,600 cu ft/s)[3] 6,858.671 m3/s (242,211.7 cu ft/s)[4]
 - minimum500 m3/s (18,000 cu ft/s)
 - maximum27,600 m3/s (970,000 cu ft/s)[5]
Discharge 
 - locationLokoja
 - average5,754.664 m3/s (203,224.0 cu ft/s)[4]
Discharge 
 - locationNiamey
 - average737.717 m3/s (26,052.2 cu ft/s)[6]
Discharge 
 - locationBamako
 - average1,091.692 m3/s (38,552.7 cu ft/s)[7]
Basin features
Tributaries 
 - leftSokoto River, Kaduna River, Benue River, Anambra River
 - rightBani River, Mékrou River

EtymologyEdit

No-one knows the origin of the name Niger. Many people think that it comes from the Latin word for "black", niger, but there is no evidence for this, and Portuguese explorers would probably have used their own word (negro) on their maps. Also, the Niger is not a blackwater river (see Rio Negro). Some people think that 'black' may mean the color of the people in this area, but this did not happen with any other river in Africa.

Therefore, most people think the name is from the original people of the area in the middle of the river where early European maps used the name "Quorra". One possibility is the Tuareg phrase gher n gheren "river of rivers", shortened to ngher or "niger", from the middle of the river near Timbuktu.

The Tabula Peutingeriana says "Flumen Girin" (River Girin) and "Hoc flumen quidam Grin vocant, alii Nilum appellant dicint enim sub terra Etyopium in Nilum ire Lacum.", which means "This river which some are naming Grin is called Nile by others and is thought to flow under the ground of Ethiopia (i.e. modern Africa) into the Nile Lake."

Nigeria and Niger take their names from the river. The people who live beside the river have many names for it, such as Jeliba or Joliba ("great river" in Manding), Isa Ber ("big river" in Songhay), Oya, (a Yoruba River Niger goddess), and Kworra or Quorra. The last name was the name that Europeans used for the lower part of the river before they knew that the upper and lower parts were connected.

GeographyEdit

The Niger River is quite a clear river. It has only 10% as much sediment as the Nile because the Niger's source is in very old rocks that have little silt.[9] Like the Nile, the Niger River has a flood every year; this starts in September, becomes strongest in November, and finishes by May.[10]

 
Fishing boat on Niger River

An unusual feature of the river is the Niger Inland Delta. This forms where the river suddenly becomes less steep.[10] This makes a region of connected streams, marshes, and lakes over an amount of land the same size as Belgium. The yearly floods make the delta very good for fishing and farming.[11]

 
Mud houses on the island in Lake Debo, a wide section of the Niger River

The Niger takes an unusual route. It is a boomerang shape and this confused Europeans for 2000 years. Its source is only 240 km (150 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean, but the river flows away from the sea into the Sahara Desert, then turns near the ancient city of Timbuktu (Tombouctou). From here, it goes southeast to the Gulf of Guinea.

Ancient Romans thought that the river near Timbuktu was part of the Nile River and Ibn Battuta had the same opinion. Early 17th-century European explorers thought that it flowed west and joined the Sénégal River. Many local people probably knew the real route, but Europeans only knew it in the late 19th century, when it was mentioned in the book Travels in the Interior of Africa by the Scottish explorer Mungo Park. This unusual route happened because the Niger River is two ancient rivers which are joined together. The upper Niger, from the source, past Timbuktu, to the bend in the river, used to empty into a lake, but the lake has now gone. However, the lower Niger started in hills near the lake and flowed south into the Gulf of Guinea. The Sahara Desert dried up in 4000-1000 BC, and the two rivers changed their routes and they joined (some people disagree, but most people think this is true).

The northern part of the river, which is called the Niger bend, is important because it is the Sahara Desert's closest big river. Therefore, trade across the west of the Sahara came here, and it became the center of the Sahelian kingdoms of Mali and Gao.

ReferencesEdit

  1. "niger | Origin and meaning of the name niger by Online Etymology Dictionary". www.etymonline.com.
  2. "WWD Continents". www.geol.lsu.edu. Archived from the original on 8 October 2017. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Prabhu TL (2021). "Agricultural Engineering: An Introduction To Agricultural Engineering". NestFame Creations Pvt. Ltd.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Rivers Network". 2020.
  5. Castano, Ing. Antonio. "A STUDY ON THE HYDROLOGICAL SERIES OF THE NIGER RIVER AT KOULIKORO, NIAMEY AND LOKOJA STATIONS". webcache.googleusercontent.com. Retrieved 28 April 2018.
  6. "Rivers Network". 2020.
  7. "Rivers Network". 2020.
  8. /ˈnər/ NY-jər; French: (le) fleuve Niger, pronounced [(lə) flœv niʒɛʁ]
  9. Reader, John. Africa. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, 2001. p. 191
  10. 10.0 10.1 Reader, p. 191
  11. Reader, pp. 191-2

Further readingEdit

  • Reader, John (2001), Africa, Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society ISBN 0-620-25506-4
  • Thomson, J. Oliver (1948), History of Ancient Geography, Biblo & Tannen Publishers ISBN 0-8196-0143-8
  • Welcomme, R.L. (1986), "The Niger River System", in Davies, Bryan Robert; Walker, Keith F. (eds.), The Ecology of River Systems, Springer, pp. 9–60 ISBN 90-6193-540-7

Other websitesEdit

PicturesEdit

International law and the River NigerEdit

Coordinates: 13°51′37″N 3°20′00″W / 13.86014°N 3.33328°W / 13.86014; -3.33328