Niamey is the Capital and largest city of the West African nation of Niger. Niamey lies on the Niger River, primarily situated on the east bank. It is an administrative, cultural and economic center. Niamey's population, officially 774,235 as of the 2006 census, is estimated to be much higher. The city is located in a pearl millet growing region, while manufacturing industries include bricks, ceramic goods, cement and weaving. Niamey was probably founded in the eighteenth century, but was of little importance to most of the country until the French developed a colonial post in the 1890s. This rapidly grew into an important center.