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The Niger River is the principal river of western Africa. It extends about 4,200 km and is the third-longest river in Africa, exceeded only by the Nile and the Congo River.
Here are some facts about River Niger
- It is 2597 miles (4,180 kilometres) long.
- The river is believed to have been named by the Greeks.
- It is also known by several names. Some call it Mayo Balleo, Oya, Isa Eghirren; Kwarra, Èdù, Isa Beeri, and Quorra to name a few.
- The river’s source is the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea.
- The Niger floods annually between September and May.
- The Niger is very clear, unlike the unclear waters of the Nile. This is as a result of the very little silts its source contains.
- Niger and Nigeria got their names from the river.
- It has one of the most unusual routes of any of the major rivers in the world. Starting approximately 150 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, it heads inland, away from the sea into the Sahara Desert instead of flowing to the nearby Atlantic Ocean. It turns sharply near Timbuktu and heads to the Gulf of Guinea.
- The Inner Niger Delta formed from the drastically decreased gradient of the river between Segou and Timbuktu. The delta is approximately the size of the country Belgium.
- The decrease gradient results in numerous marches, lakes, and streams.
- It was not until the late 18th century that Europeans made systematic attempts to find the source, direction, and outlet of the Niger.
- In 1796, Mungo Park, a Scottish explorer was the first European to see the Niger River.
- You can find the African Lion throughout the Niger River delta.
- There are thirty-six families of freshwater fish and nearly 250 species in the river. 20 of them can be found nowhere else on Earth.
- The West African manatee lives in the river. They are an endangered species and face possible extinction. These mammals grow up to fifteen feet long and can weigh nearly eight hundred pounds.
- The Benue River is its main tributary.
- The Niger valley is sparsely settled, but you can find population concentrations in the lake region and near the confluence of the Niger and Benue.
- There are larger ethnic groups along the course of the river, such as the Bambara, the Malinke, the Songhai, and the Zarma
- Most of the Niger River is used for commercial shipping.
- In 1822, Alexander G. Laing, another Scottish explorer, determined but did not visit the source of the river.
- In 1830 two English explorers, John and Richard Lander established the lower course of the Niger by canoeing down the river from Yauri to the Atlantic Ocean, via the Nun River passage.
- Towards the end of the 19th century, two German explorers, Heinrich Barth and Eduard R. Flegel, through separate travels established the course of the Benue from its source to its confluence with the Niger.