Niger River

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The Niger River (pronounced /ˈnaɪdʒər/ NYE-jər) is the principal river of western Africa, extending about 4,180 km (2,600 mi). Its drainage basin is 2,117,700 km2 (817,600 sq mi) in area.[3] Its source is in the Guinea Highlands in southeastern Guinea. It runs in a crescent through Mali, Niger, on the border with Benin and then through Nigeria, discharging through a massive delta, known as the Niger Delta or the Oil Rivers, into the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. The Niger is the third-longest river in Africa, exceeded only by the Nile and the Congo River (also known as the Zaïre River). Its main tributary is the Benue River.

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Etymology

The Niger is called Jeliba or Joliba "great river" in Manding, Egerew n-Igerewen "river of rivers" in Tuareg, Isa Ber "big river" in Songhay, and Oya in Yoruba. The origin of the name Niger, which originally applied only to the middle reaches of the river, is uncertain. The likeliest possibility is an alteration, by influence of Latin niger "black", of the Tuareg name egerew nigerewen, which is used along the middle reaches of the river around Timbuktu.[4][5] As Timbuktu was the southern end of the principal Trans-Saharan trade route to the western Mediterranean, it was the source of most European knowledge of the region.

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