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Geopolitical Qualities of Niger and Its Impact on Power

A geopolitically strong state needs a certain combination of qualities that contribute to its overall stability and ability to thrive on a global scale. Niger – a country located in Western Africa – does not possess the qualities that make a powerful state, and can be qualified as a 3rd tier country – where it has little influence on the world – due to its geographical disadvantages, its lack of necessary power-deciding factors, and its unlikeliness to improve.  In 2014, The United Nations (UN) ranked Niger as the least developed country due to its “food insecurity, lack of industry, high population growth and a weak educational sector.”[1] Between an unstable government and an ever-growing population, its geographical qualities naturally hinder this country’s chance of success and possibility of international influence. Influence ultimately defines a state’s power, and its ability to sway other nations, as well as the impact over the mind of men impacts the level of geopolitical power: “When we speak of power, we mean man’s control over the minds and actions of other men. By political power we refer to the mutual relations of control among the holders of public authority and between the latter and the people at large.”[2] Niger also has very few geographical and governmental strengths to combat these negative qualities, so it is unlikely that Niger will challenge the status quo and improve its global standing.             Geography directly impacts a state’s power ranking, and can greatly hinder its growth and stability. Author of Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace, Hans Morgenthau, deemed geography as one of two major elements of national power. Although power itself is complex and has many facets, geography’s important influence on power is irreversible and permanent: “The most stable factor upon which the power of a nation depends is obviously geography.”[3] Niger’s geographical qualities cause numerous disadvantages, which contribute to its high level of poverty and low level of global competition. Niger sits landlocked in Western Africa and borders seven other countries, including: Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Libya, Mali, and Nigeria. The area of Niger spans a total of 1.267 million square kilometers, while having a total of 300 square kilometers of natural water sources, including the Niger River, which is the lowest point. Comparatively, Niger is slightly less than twice the size of Texas.[4] In relation to its bordering countries, Niger is significantly smaller than Algeria, but larger than Burkina Faso and Benin. In this case, the size of the country does not necessarily impact the amount of success and the pure relative location negatively impacts Niger more so. In addition to the relative size and location of Niger, the Niger River is the main major, inland waterway for Niger, and it is also the longest river in Western Africa: “The Niger River is about 4,180 km long and passes through almost every climatic zone in West Africa.”[5] Although Niger has one major waterway that stretches across the majority of the land, due to the fact that it is a landlocked country means it is naturally unlikely to be wealthy and prosperous. According to an article published by the Center for International Development at Harvard University, states within a landlocked situation are more likely to be less successful than others: “Coastal regions and those near navigable waterways are indeed far richer and more densely settled than interior regions.”[6] This disadvantageous feature directly affects Niger’s economic success and international standing. Without being able to transport goods through a continental waterway, it is required to trade via ground transport, which is more expensive than it would be to transport goods via waterways. Niger’s terrain is predominately desert plains with sand dunes, with flat to rolling plains in the south and hills in the north.[7] Most of the northern area is desert, but one part is savanna, which is suitable for livestock. Towards the north, the Sahara Desert ranges across the border between Niger and Algeria, therefore the climate is mostly hot, dry and dusty, but almost tropical in the extreme south. Since the Sahara takes up nearly 60% of Northern Niger, very little land is left for agriculture and pasture purposes.     (... ) [1]"Niger." 53, (January 2016): 544-547 Military & Government Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed April 24, 2017), 546. [2] Morgenthau, Hans J. Politics Among Nations: The Struggle for Power and Peace. Ed. Kenneth W. Thomson and W. David Clinton. 7th ed. (New York, NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006), 30. [3] Ibid, 122. [4] "Niger." 53, (January 2016): 544-547. Military & Government Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed April 24, 2017),544. [5] “Physical Geography: Hydrography.” West Africa: Land Use and Land Cover Dynamics, accessed March 21, 2017, https://eros.usgs.gov/westafrica/physical-geography. [6] Jeffrey D. Sachs, Andrew D. Mellinger, and John L. Gallup, “Geography of Poverty and Wealth,” Center for International Development at Harvard University, (2000): n.p., accessed March 21, 2017, http://www.cid.harvard.edu/cidinthenews/articles/Sciam_0301_article.html. [7] "Niger." 53, (January 2016): 544-547. Military & Government Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed April 24, 2017), 544.
Last modified on Sunday, 09 July 2017 14:01

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