Independence Day in Niger Date in the current year: August 3, 2024

Independence Day in Niger Niger celebrates Independence Day on August 3. This public holiday marks the day when Niger gained independence from France in 1960.

The Republic of the Niger is a landlocked country in West Africa, bordered by Libya, Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, and Mali. It is one of the world’s least developed countries (according to the Human Development Index) because of its landlocked position, overpopulation, lack of infrastructure, environmental degradation, poor healthcare, and poverty.

The territory of present-day Niger was first populated about 5,000 years ago. At that time, the climate of the region was wet and therefore favorable for livestock herding and agriculture. When desertification began, local populations began to migrate to the Lake Chad region.

Around the 5th century BC, Niger became important for the trans-Saharan trade led by the Berber tribes. It was North African traders who introduced Islam to the region. In the 15th and 16th centuries, present-day Niger was part of the powerful Songhai Empire. Other powerful states in the region included the Hausa Kingdom, the Mali Empire, and the Kanem–Bornu Empire.

The region came in contact with Europe relatively late because of its landlocked position. In the late 19th century, the French intensified their military efforts to conquer as much of Africa as possible and sent several military expeditions to Niger. All resistance from local ethnic groups had been eliminated between 1922, and Niger officially became a French colony.

The Colony of Niger was governed by a lieutenant governor who reported to the Governor General of French West Africa. During World War II, the colonial authorities of Niger were loyal to the collaborationist Vichy regime in France, which resulted in relative isolation of the region during the war.

The modern borders of Niger were established in 1947. In 1956, France allowed its overseas colonies to create territorial governments, but these governments held only administrative and advisory powers. In 1958, Niger became an autonomous state within the French Union.

The 1959 Constitution of Niger created the Legislative Assembly of Niger and established the state symbols. In 1960, the French Fifth Republic granted independence to most of its African territories, except for Algeria. Niger declared its independence from France on August 3, 1960.

Since its inception in 1960, Niger Independence Day has been a major national festival. It is celebrated with official festivities, such as speeches delivered by political leaders and an official broadcast by the President. Since it is a public holiday, all government employees get a day off, and many businesses close for the day as well.

In 1975, the government of Niger initiated a tree planting campaign in order to prevent desertification. Since then, trees have been planted on Independence Day every year, and every Nigerian is expected to plant one on the occasion. For this reason, Niger Independence Day is also known as Arbor Day (Fête de l'Arbre).

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