Niger's Landmarks

by Kevin Belhumeur

Niger, officially known as The Republic of Niger, is a landlocked West African country bordered by Chad, Nigeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Algeria and Libya. Niger is the largest nation in West Africa, with a total land area of approximately 489,678 square miles, and is home to some of the region's most recognizable landmarks.

Tree of Ténéré

Niger's Tree of Ténéré, also known as the Lonely Tree of Ténéré, was once believed to be the most remote tree in the world. The Tree of Ténéré was a 10-foot tall, 300-year-old acacia tree that stood alone in the hostile expanse of the Sahara Desert. With no other trees in sight for more than 250 miles in any direction, the Tree of Ténéré became a famous landmark for desert travelers. The tree was believed to have been part of a sizable forest that gradually gave way to climate change in the form of desertification. In 1973, the famous Tree of Ténéré met its demise when a truck driver lost control of his vehicle and ran into it, snapping its trunk in half. The dead Tree of Ténéré was taken to the Niger National Museum in the capital city of Niamey. Shortly thereafter, an anonymous artist built a tree-shaped monument commemorating the exact location where the world's most remote tree once lived.

Erg de Bilma

Niger's Erg de Bilma sand dunes are located in the central-eastern region of the Ténéré Desert. Although the Ténéré Desert is a small part of the larger Sahara Desert, the Erg de Bilma sand sea still covers an impressive 57,915 square miles. Erg de Bilma's two major dune types are known as zibar dunes and linear dunes. When next to each other, these dunes typically form perpendicular patterns, with zibar dunes oriented in a cross direction and linear dunes in an up-down direction. Niger's golden hills of sand are among the most photographed dunes in the world.

Agadez Mosque

The Agadez Mosque was erected in Agadez, Niger's largest northern city, in the year 1515. At the time of its construction, the mosque was designed to attract a group of Berber nomadic people known as the Tuareg. A 90-foot clay formation in the style of the ancient Berber culture is the mosque's most recognizable feature. The site was rebuilt in 1844 and serves today as a center of Islamic studies. The current Sultan's Palace stands next to the Agadez Mosque; each day, the sultan climbs to the top of the mosque to say prayer.

Kaouar Cliffs

Niger's famous Kaouar Cliffs run along the route of the historic Bornu-to-Fezzan caravan trail in the heart of the Ténéré desert. Rising more than 300 feet in height, the Kaouar Cliffs provide easy access to ground water in what is normally a parched region of the Ténéré desert. The Kaouar Cliffs region is also known for its salt and date production. Until the 1800s, the cliffs were located in a main area of contact between the African and Mediterranean worlds; they became renowned as a landmark because of their sheer verticality in an otherwise flat region of the desert.

About the Author

Kevin Belhumeur began writing and editing in 2008. He has written sports-related articles for the "Newport Beach Daily Pilot" and has copy-edited for the "UCLA Daily Bruin." Belhumeur holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of California-Los Angeles.