A day will come when Niger will be nothing more than an immense desert as each year, the sand gains more and more land over the Sahelian savannah in the south. It is a crucial area for the locals as it is some of their more fertile land and where almost 90% of the population lives, trying as best as they can to rise above the economic chaos created by devastating draughts in the 1970s. The desert starts properly in Agadez, where, a long time ago, the caravans used to start their long crossing of the Ténéré, transporting their salt loaves.
With 80% of the land covered by the Sahara and the Sahel, it is very difficult for flora to grow here. The few species that have managed to adapt themselves to the desert climate, like the acacia and a few grasses, are not enough for large animals to be able to subsist on.
Nevertheless, there are a few plant and animals species that can survive the high temperatures. The baobab, the tamarind, the kapok and a species of mahogany are all trees that grow in Niger. Once numerous in the arid zones, the addax antelope, the gazelle and the ostrich are becoming increasingly rare. The country's parks and natural reserves are home to giraffes, hippos, buffalo, elephants and lions.
The various art forms practised in Niger include music and weaponry (an ancestral art), which can be seen in its museums.
Niger has a rich culture that has been very well-preserved, thanks to its government that is associated with many foreign cultural institutions and organisations. The best way to get a good idea of the culture of Niger is to participate in one of the country's many colourful festivals.
Despite its difficult economic and political situation (problems linked to modernity), the nomads of Niger still contribute to its culture. These people, and particularly the Wodaabe, play an important role in the art and music of Niger.