59th most populous country on earth
Niger became independent from France in 1960 and experienced single-party and military rule until 1991, when Gen. Ali Saibou was forced by public pressure to allow multiparty elections, which resulted in a democratic government in 1993. Political infighting brought the government to a standstill and in 1996 led to a coup by Col. Ibrahim BARE. In 1999, Bare was killed in a counter coup by military officers who restored democratic rule and held elections that brought Mamadou Tandja to power in December of that year. Tandja was reelected in 2004 and in 2009 spearheaded a constitutional amendment allowing him to extend his term as president.