History – events of the past
The boundaries of modern day Niger tell you nothing about its centuries of
history. These borders enclosed no ancient kingdom or single ethnic group.
Instead, some of Africa's greatest empires spilled over into the territory that
Pre 20th century
Mosque – meeting place for Muslims
Prior to the twentieth century, empires were built by those who could control
the trade routes. Salt, gold and slaves were major trade items.
By the eleventh century the religion of Islam had spread from Arabia across the
region. Islam united its followers, called Muslims, in a common religious and
cultural bond. Cities flourished with Islamic art and architecture. Islamic
principles inspired many aspects of life, from business to military conquests.
In 1805-1806, Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer attempted to trace the full course
of the Niger River. He is the first known European to travel through
French colonial rule began in 1895, when France united its West African colonies
into a federation called French West Africa. The Tuareg, who had ruled Nigerien
Sahara for 1,000 years revolted against the French in 1906. For years, their
frequent rebellions kept the French from turning Niger into a fully-fledged
Niger finally became an official colony of French West Africa in 1922. France
invested little money or effort to develop Niger. No roads or railroads were
built, and little was done to develop Niger's economy. After World War 2,
France began the process of releasing its colonies. In 1946, Niger was granted
representation in the French Parliament. Niger gained full independence on
August 3, 1960.
Since independence Niger's progress has been limited because of political
instability and droughts.
Timeline of key events in modern history