Nigerien culture is characterized by diversity, a result of the cultural crossroads that French colonization molded into a united state at the turn of the twentieth century. In the pre-colonial era, Niger was formed from four distinct cultural areas: the Zarma-dominated Niger River valley in the southwest; the northern periphery of Hausaland, consisting mostly of states that had resisted the Sokoto Caliphate and extending along the long southern border with Nigeria; and the Lake Chad basin and Kaouar in the far east, populated by Kanuri farmers and Touboupastor.
Each of these tribes, as well as minor ethnic groups like as the pastoral Wodaabe Fula, carried with them their unique cultural traditions to the nascent state of Niger. While successive post-independence governments have attempted to forge a shared national culture, progress has been slow, in part because the major Nigerien communities have their own cultural histories, and in part because Nigerien ethnic groups such as the Hausa, Tuareg, and Kanuri are but parts of larger ethnic communities that cross borders introduced by colonialism.
Until the 1990s, Niamey and the Zarma people of the surrounding area controlled governance and politics. At the same time, the majority of the people in the Hausa borders between Birni-N’Konni and Maine-Soroa has frequently turned to Hausaland in Nigeria for cultural inspiration rather than Niamey. Between 1996 and 2003, primary school attendance was approximately 30%, with 36 percent of men and just 25 percent of girls attending. Madrasas provide further education.