Niger - Transport

Transport

Transport is crucial to the economy and culture of this vast landlocked nation, with cities separated by huge uninhabited deserts, mountain ranges, and other natural features. Niger's transport system was little developed during the colonial period (1899–1960), relying upon animal transport, human transport, and limited river transport in the far south west and south east.

No railways were constructed in the colonial period, and most roads outside the capital remained unpaved. The Niger River is unsuitable for river transport of any large scale, as it lacks depth for most of the year, and is broken by rapids at many spots. Camel caravan transport was historically important in the Sahara desert and Sahel regions which cover most of the north.

Road transport, especially shared taxis, buses, and trucks, are the primary form of long distance transport for most Nigeriens. There were 10,100 kilometres (6,300 mi) of roads in the nation in 1996, but only 798 kilometres (496 mi) were paved. Most of this total was in large cities and in two main highways. The first major paved highway was constructed in the 1970s and 80s to transport uranium from the far northern mining town of Arlit to the Benin border. (Much of Niger's export economy relies upon ports in Cotonou, Lomé, and Port Harcourt.) This road, dubbed the Uranium Highway, runs through Arlit, Agadez, Tahoua, Birnin-Konni, and Niamey, and is part of the Trans-Sahara Highway system. The paved RN1 ("Routes Nationale") runs east-west across the south of the nation, from Niamey via Maradi and Zinder towards Diffa in the far east of the nation, although the stretch from Zinder to Diffa is only partially paved. Other roads range from all-weather laterite surfaces to grated dirt or sand pistes, especially in the desert north. These form a more extensive numbered highway system.

Niger's main international airport is Diori Hamani International Airport at Niamey. Other airports in Niger include Mano Dayak International Airport at Agadez and Zinder Airport near Zinder.

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