View of Agadez, from mosque's minaret
|Elevation||520 m (1,706 ft)|
|Population (2005 census)|
Agadez (also Agades) is the largest city in northern Niger, with a population of 88,569 (2005 census). It lies in the Sahara and is the capital of Aïr, one of the traditional Tuareg federations. The city is also the capital of the Agadez Region, with a population of 347,330 (2005).
The city was founded before the fourteenth century and gradually became the most important Tuareg city, supplanting Assodé, by growing around trans-Saharan trade. The city still sees the arrival of caravans, bringing salt from Bilma.
In 1449, Agadez became a sultanate, while around 1500 it was conquered by the Songhai Empire. At this point, the city had a population of around 30,000 people and was a key passage for the medieval caravans trading between the West African cities of Kano and Timbuktu and the North African oases of Ghat, Ghadames, and Tripoli, on the Mediterranean shore. Decline set in after the Moroccan invasion, and the population sank to less than 10,000.
Today, Agadez flourishes as a market town and as a centre for the transportation of the uranium mined in the surrounding area. Notable buildings in the city include the Agadez Grand Mosque, originally dating from 1515 but rebuilt in the same style in 1844, the Kaocen Palace (now a hotel) and the Agadez Sultan's Palace. The city is also known for its camel market and its silver and leatherwork.
Agadez international airport was named after Mano Dayak, the Tuareg leader who is native to the region.
See: Second Tuareg Rebellion
As a result of the Second Tuareg Rebellion, sporadic violence and the displacement of numerous people has affected the Agadez area. All of northern Niger was placed on the United States State Department list of areas which are unsafe for travel by United States citizens, covering late 2007 to the end of 2008. Tourist flights are also suspended to Agadez from European airlines for the 2007–2008 tourist season (September - March). The burgeoning tourist industry, which prior to 2007 had surpassed that of the Niamey and the rest of the nation, was essentially ended. The entire Region was placed under a Niger government State of Exception (limiting travel, gatherings, political activities, etc.) in October 2007, renewed through early 2009. Roads to and from Agadez were reported to have been mined, and the Niger government closed the area to international journalists and aid organizations. An unknown number (reported as several thousands) of internally displaced people have converged on the city.
Agadez is a historic city in Aïr region of Niger. Founded in the 11th century, Agadez was an important stop for caravans crossing the Saharan Desert for centuries. Agadez was held by the Mali empire during part of the 14th century, captured by the Songhai empire in 1515, and controlled by Bornu in the 17th century. It remained a trade center until the late 19th century. During much of this time it was a center of Islamic learning and the seat of several sultanates before its capture by the French in 1900.
It is a center of Tuareg culture and likewise two Tuareg rebellions in recent years: 1990-1995 & 2007-present. The Tuareg people are the original Canaanites from the Bible. The meaning of Canaan is 'land of the purple people.' This unusual moniker is in reference to the bluish-purple vegetable dye the Tuareg use to color their clothing that subsequently rubs off onto their skin. The Tuareg are renowned for their metal and leather workings.The region around Agadez is known for its spectacular desert/mountain scenery. It is also the center of one of the largest uranium mining regions on Earth.
Agadez lies on the Trans-Sahara Highway, also known as the Algiers-Lagos Highway. The highway provides access north across the Sahara to Algiers and south to Nigeria with a terminus in Lagos. The Trans-Sahelian (or Dakar-N'Djamena) Highway, bisects the Trans-Saharan Highway about 600km south of Agadez.
There is bus service to Niamey.
There is an international airport serving the city, but with limited flights. Flights between EU countries and Agadez ceased with the start of the second Tuareg Rebellion in 2007. Thus, the most feasible way of arriving in Agadez by air is to arrive in Niamey.
Leather and silver handicrafts are made.
Agadez Tuareg Cross - The markings and geometrical design of Tuareg crosses and Tuareg jewelry in general translates into protective symbolism. "God is the center of the universe, we are one with God" and "no matter where you go God and I shall always be with you and protect you" are common Saharan interpretations. Those of the Muslim faith believe that the arms of the cross will disperse all evil from the individual, thus keeping him out of harms way. Tuareg parents are known to give these exquisite silver crosses to their children when they are about to depart from home but they are worn by all as a form of good luck and protection. The silver crosses are uniquely shaped and are named after the town of Agadez from where they originate. The cross bears the jewelers mark on its back. The beaded necklace contains four cylindrical decoratively embossed silver segments.
The Touareg crosses sold come in a number of designs. The Agadez cross is the most common, but many others are available. Each design is associated with a particular Touareg market town. Other examples include the Timia cross, the Iferouane cross and the unusual Ingal cross
There is not much around Agadez to visit.
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