NIGER

Country Description: Niger is a developing, inland African nation whose northern area includes a part of the Sahara Desert. Tourism facilities are minimal, particularly outside of Niamey.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A visa is required. Travelers should obtain the latest information on customs and entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Niger, 2204 R Street, N.W., Washington D.C. 20008, telephone (202)483-4224. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Nigerien embassy or consulate.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Travel in the northern and far eastern areas of Niger is dangerous and should only be undertaken by air or protected convoy. Despite the peace agreement between the Government of Niger and the Tuareg rebel groups, there is a continuing threat of sporadic armed conflict and violent banditry. U.S. Government personnel and contractors wishing to travel above a line connecting (West to East) the communities of Tera, Tillaberi, Ouallam, Filingue, Tahoua, Keita, Bouza, Dakoro, Tanout, and Nguigmi must receive permission from the Ambassador through the regional security office. Areas in Niger's far east are also prone to sporadic violence.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are poor in Niger, particularly outside the city of Niamey. Medicines are in short supply, and doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid or accepted outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Travelers have found supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage, including provision for medical evacuation, to be useful. For additional health information, travelers may contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers toll-free hotline at 1-888-232-3228 (phone) or 1-888-232-3299 (autofax) or via the Internet at http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Niamey is a critical crime post. Tourists should not walk alone around the Gaweye Hotel, National Museum, and on or near the Kennedy Bridge at any time. This area is especially prone to muggings (day and night) and should be avoided. Recent criminal events in Niger have included carjackings, home invasions, and muggings. Armed bandits are still active in northern and eastern Niger, especially on roads between major cities. Caution and common sense must be used at all times in order to avoid thieves and pick- pockets.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets "A Safe Trip Abroad" and "Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa" provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Dress Restrictions: Local culture and Islamic tradition encourage conservative dress for both men and women. There have been incidents of harassment of African women wearing Western clothes in the conservative towns along the southern border with Nigeria. Although U.S. citizens are not specific targets, travelers should be careful in choosing their attire.

Photography Restrictions: Tourists are free to take pictures anywhere in Niger, except near military installations, radio and television stations, the Presidency Building, the airport, and the Kennedy Bridge. Tourists should also not photograph political and student demonstrations.

Currency Regulations: There are no laws restricting foreign exchange transactions in Niger. The CFA franc, the money Niger shares with several other West African Francophone countries, is fully convertible into French francs.

Road Conditions: U.S. travelers should exercise caution when traveling in Niger as traffic accidents are frequent. Care must be taken on Niger's paved and unpaved roads to avoid farm animals, slow moving donkey carts and broken down vehicles. These dangers are amplified at night. Banditry is a continuing problem in northern and eastern Niger. There has been a reported increase in carjackings and highway robbery occurring in remote areas of the country.

Telephone Service: Due to poor line quality, callers often experience delays in getting a telephone line and telefaxes are often garbled.

Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Niger, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Niger's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Niger's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travellers may contact the Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

Drug Penalties: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Embassy Location/Registration: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Niamey on Rue Des Ambassades, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Niger. The mailing address is B.P. 11201. The telephone numbers are (227) 72-26-61 through 72-26-64. The fax number is (227) 73-31-67 or 72-31-46. The Embassy's Internet e-mail address is: usemb@intent.ne

No. 98-74

This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated May 6, 1997 to revise the paragraphs on crime, photography, road conditions, aviation safety, and Embassy location.

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