By: Brantson L.

As the principal river of West Africa, the Niger is the third longest on the continent after the Nile and Congo. It is about 2,600 mile long, rising in Guinea 150 miles (240 kilometers) from the Atlantic Ocean. There were 2 empires centered on the Niger,the Mali and the  Songhai. The Niger flows northwest in a great arc, it enters Mali and approaches the fringe of the Sahara. Its northernmost point is near the ancient city of Timbuktu, Mali. The river then bends southeastward through western Niger to Nigeria and continues southward, emptying into the Gulf of Guinea. The Niger is a source for irrigation and hydroelectric power. It is the lifeline of Mali, where fishing produces an annual catch of more than 100,000 tons. Through its largest tributary, the Benue, it reaches into Central Africa. In Lokoja, Nigeria, the Niger and the Benue form a stretch of water about 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) wide at their confluence. Most of the river is used for commercial shipping of various exports, such as millet, sorghum, corn, and rice. Rail and road routes cross the Niger at many points. The river passes through all of the vegetation zones of West Africa, including grasslands, rain forests, and swamps. The river valley is sparsely settled except for the cities of Bamako, Mali and Onitsha, Nigeria. Many ethnic patterns can be found along the river’s course.

This information came from Alabama Virtual  Library; Bratanica School  

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