Factbox: Key facts about Niger
(Reuters) - Niger holds a presidential run-off election on Saturday meant to restore civilian rule in the West African uranium-exporting country.
Here are some details about Niger and its economy:
-- Niger is one of the world's leading producers of uranium. It produces around 7.5 percent of the world's uranium, according to the World Nuclear Association.
-- Niger's uranium deposits have attracted billions of dollars of investment, mainly from French nuclear giant Areva. China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) is developing oil fields in the southeast.
-- But despite its mineral riches, including iron ore, silver, platinum and titanium, Niger was still rated 167 in the most recent U.N. Human Development Index out of 169 nations ranked by quality of life.
Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe were ranked 168 and 169 respectively.
-- Niger, part of the semi-arid Sahel region prone to droughts, has suffered chronic food shortages since the early 1970s. The 2005 food crisis killed thousands and was followed by another major food emergency in 2010.
-- Niger is one of the world's poorest countries, with two-thirds of the population living on less than $1 a day and life expectancy at birth of 52.5 years.
-- The most important donors in Niger are France, the European Union, the World Bank, the IMF, and UN agencies.
GDP (2009): $5.34 billion.
Annual growth rate (2009): 1.2 percent.
Per capita GDP (2009): $360.
Avg. inflation rate (2009): 4.8 percent.
Avg. inflation rate (September 09 to August 2010): 0.6 percent.
EXPORTS: Freight on board--$341 million.
Types - Uranium, livestock, gold, cowpeas and onions.
Major markets include - France 31.2 percent, Nigeria 18.2 percent, Japan 14.1 percent, Spain 8.4 percent, U.S. 1.7 percent.
IMPORTS (F.O.B.)--$984 million.
Types - Consumer goods, petroleum, foodstuffs, and industrial products.
Major suppliers - France 15.2 percent, China 15.1 percent, U.S. 9.5 percent, Nigeria 7.9 percent, Ivory Coast 5.1 percent, India 3.2 percent, Japan 5.6 percent.
POPULATION: 16.3 million (2010 estimate)
LANGUAGE: French is the official language, but several local languages are also spoken.
ETHNICITY: Niger's herding peoples vary in ethnic origin from Berber Tuareg to Fulani, including the Tibu. The south is dominated by the Hausa, Djerma, Songhai and Kamuri.
RELIGION: Islam, although traditional African religions and a Christian minority are also present in the south.
GEOGRAPHY: Two-thirds desert, its only fertile area is along the banks of the Niger River.
Sources: Reuters/United Nations/Economist/State Dept/Alertnet
(For full Reuters Africa coverage and to have your say on the top issues, visit: africa.reuters.com/ )
(Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit; editing by Mark Heinrich)
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