Niger 101

Mrs. Kombo mentioned that Niger was the single poorest nation on a United Nations list. I looked up the list. From Wikipedia:

The Human Development Index (HDI) is a comparative measure of life expectancy, literacy, education and standards of living for countries worldwide. It is a standard means of measuring well-being, especially child welfare. It is used to distinguish whether the country is a developed, a developing or an under-developed country, and also to measure the impact of economic policies on quality of life. The index was developed in 1990 by Pakistani economist Mahbub ul Haq and Indian economist Amartya Sen.

Here are the 10 worst off nations:

Rank in 2009 Low human development 1 Niger0.340▲ +0.007 2 Sierra Leone0.365▲ +0.008 3 Central African Republic 0.369▲ +0.002 4 Mali 0.371▲ +0.005 5 Burkina Faso 0.389▲ +0.005 6 Democratic Republic of the Congo 0.389▲ +0.018 7 Chad0.392▼ -0.001 8 Burundi0.394▲ +0.007 9 Guinea-Bissau0.396▲ +0.005 10 Mozambique0.402▲ +0.005

I'd always thought Congo was the worst-off nation.

The literacy rate (15 and over who can read and write) is 29%. Supposedly that is a point above Afghanistan and Burkina Faso for last place.

The male literacy rate is 43% so I guess the female rate is about 15%. Many girls don't even get to attend elementary school.

80% of the nation is in the Sahara Desert.

I'm going to be totally honest. Prior to today, I could not located Niger on a map. I would have placed it on the right continent, but after that, no clue which was Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Mali, Chad, et al. Here is the map.