Niger Population 2017
Niger is the largest country in West Africa, and the 22nd largest country in the world, but over 80% of its land is covered by the Sahara desert. This is one reason for Niger's low population density of just 12 people per square kilometer. Niger's estimated population is 18.3 million, compared to an estimated 17.1 million in 2012. 94% of Niger's population live on just 35% of the land. The Maradi region hold 20% of the population on 3.3% of the country's land, while just 3% of the population live in the desert and mountains to the north, which makes up 53% of the land area.
More than 50% of Niger's population belongs to the Hausa, which also is the largest ethnic group of northern Nigeria, as well as the Zarma-Songhai. Both groups are sedentary farmers who live in the southern area of the country.
The rest of Nigeriens are nomadic or semi-nomadic and raise livestock. The Fulani, Kanuri, Arabs, Toubou, and Tuareg count for around 20% of the country's population. With the country's population rapidly increasing, creating more competition for scarce resource, the farmer and herders have clashed several times.
Between 80 and 98% of Niger's population is Muslim, although there are small Animist and Christian communities. Most Muslims in the country are Sufi and Sunni, with about 5% being Shi'a Muslims. Niger maintains a reputation as a secular state that is protected by law. Women are not secluded nor are headcoverings mandatory.
A study in 2005 estimated that about 8% of Niger's population is enslaved.