Niger, also called the Niger officially the Republic of the Niger, is a landlocked country in Western Africa named after the Niger River. Niger covers a land area of almost 1,270,000 km2 (490,000 sq mi), making it the largest country in West Africa. Over 80% of its land area lies in the Sahara Desert. The country’s predominantly Islamic population of about 21 million mostly clusters in the far south and west of the country. The capital city is Niamey, located in Niger’s southwest corner.
Niger faces serious challenges to development due to its landlocked position, desert terrain, inefficient agriculture, high fertility rates without birth control, and the resulting overpopulation, the poor educational level and the poverty of its people, the lack of infrastructure, the poor health care, and the environmental degradation. As of 2015, 71.3% of Niger’s population cannot read, one of the lowest literacy rates in the world.