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An ancient mudbrick home in the Birini old town.
Zinder is located in Niger
Coordinates: 13°48′35.3″N 8°59′14.1″E
Country Niger
Zinder Region
Matameye Department
capitol of Sultanate of Damagaram 1736
Elevation 479 m (1,572 ft)
Population (2001 census)
 • Total 170,574

Zinder (which is locally called Damagaram) is the second largest city in Niger, with a population of 170,574 (2001 census) by 2005 was estimated to be over 200,000. It is situated 535 miles east of the capital Niamey and 149 miles north of the Nigerian city of Kano.


Zinder rose from a small Hausa village to an important centre of the Trans-Saharan trade with the founding of the Sultanate of Damagaram in 1736 by Kanouri aristocrats. The large fortress of the souteast central city (Birini) was built shortly thereafter, and became a major hub for trade south through Kano and east to Bornu. The Tuareg encampments and trade houses of the Hausa town (Zengou) expanded with this trade. The French conquered the city in 1899, and placed the capital of the new Niger Military Territory there in 1911. In 1926, following fears of Hausa revolts and improving relations with the Djerma of the west, the capital was transferred to the village of Niamey.

The town today

Today, Zinder comprises three main areas. Birni, the old town, is home to Zinder Great Mosque and the Zinder Sultan's Palace, as well as a museum. Zengou, the old Hausa settlement, is known for its vernacular architecture. Sabon Gari (the new town), between Birni and Zengou, is the commercial centre, known for its large market. The city now sprawls to the north and west, extending to the Karkada section, in the north. Other neighborhoods include Garin Mallam and Gawon Kollia.

The city has many distinctive granite rocks which can result in standing water during the rainy season, though the city has a long history of water shortages. Recently water was piped by a Chinese-owned company from the north to provide water to most of the city, however, this problem is likely to continue due to expected population growth.

Zinder Airport (code: ZND) is located a few miles to the southwest of the town.

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