The landlocked West African country has one of the world's largest uranium reserves and powers France's nuclear industry, but routinely ranks near the bottom of the U.N.'s Human Development Index. It has suffered from years of political instability — five constitutions and three periods of military rule since independence in 1958. It is now a frontier state in the battles against Boko Haram and other West African insurgencies. But it's a backbencher on education and population control, with among the world's highest rates of illiteracy and fertility.

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