Niger River Facts
This page of Interesting Africa facts provides information on the Niger River which is the third longest river in Africa, only the Nile and Congo rivers are longer. In the list below there are many facts about this amazing African landform, including its history and geography. There is also information about the animals, fish, and plants found in and around the river.
- The river is 4,180 kilometers (2597 miles) long.
- The Guinea Highlands located in southeastern Guinea is the rivers source.
- The Niger has one of the most unusual routes of any of the major rivers in the world. It starts approximately 150 miles from the Atlantic Ocean (240 kilometers). Instead of flowing to the nearby Atlantic Ocean it instead heads inland, away from the sea into the Sahara Desert. It turns sharply near the city of Timbuktu and heads to the Gulf of Guinea.
- Like the Nile River, the largest river in Africa, the Niger floods annually. The flooding begins in September and ends by May.
- Unlike the Nile, the Niger is very clear. This is because its source contains very little silt.
- The countries of Niger and Nigeria get their names from the river.
- Between Segou and Timbuktu the gradient of the river decreases drastically and forms the Inner Niger Delta. The delta is approximately the size of the country Belgium. The decrease gradient causes the flow of the river to slow down resulting in numerous marches, lakes, and streams. In this area about two thirds of the rivers potential flow is lost, leaking into lakes and marches. When the region floods, during the rainy season, excellent conditions for fishing and farming are created.
- The Scottish explorer Mungo Park was the first European to see the Niger River. He did so in 1796.
- The African Lion can be found throughout the Niger River delta.
- The river has thirty six families of freshwater fish and nearly 250 species, 20 of which are found nowhere else on Earth but the Niger.
- The West African manatee, which faces extinction, lives in the river. These mammals can grow up to fifteen feet long and can weigh nearly eight hundred pounds.