Information about Nigeria


Sitting on the western coast of Africa, Nigeria is one of the largest countries in the continent. Politically stable for almost 20 years now, this federal republic proudly features amazing geographical and cultural riches.

Nigeria's history

Colonised by Great Britain as from the 1840's, Nigeria fully fell under British domination in 1903.

The history of the country as we know it starts in 1914, when the Northern and Southern Nigeria Protectorates where joined under a single governorship to form a single British Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria.

Over the 20th century, British rule was constantly challenged by various anti-colonial movements. The country ultimately became independent in 1960, and adopted a republican constitution establishing a federal system shortly after.

The secession of three Nigerian states in 1967 brought about a 13-year long episode of civil war whereby government functions were taken on by the military. A second Republic lasted from 1979 to 1983 before giving way to another military regime which only ended in 1999, when the country returned to demographic rule.

Ever since, the country has been hard-pressed fighting serious threats such as the one presented by extremist Islamist group Boko Haram, which has been wreaking terror in the north of the country through highly-publicised attacks such as government member assassinations or mass-kidnapping of school girls.

With the help of the international community, Nigeria is actively trying to stamp out the terrorist threat.

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Nigeria remains part of the British Commonwealth.

Geography

Nigeria shares borders with Niger, Benin, Chad and Cameroon and is bordered by the Gulf of Guinea, in the Atlantic Ocean.

Spanning a surface area more than twice that of California, Nigeria has a very diverse geography, with vast plains in the northern and southern regions and a hilly topography in the center and along the border with Cameroon in the southeast.

The coastal regions are dominated by mangroves and swamps, while dense tropical rainforests thrive further inland. Flora includes economically valuable oil palm trees, tropical grassland with locust bean trees, baobab, and tamarind, and swaths of forest have been cleared to make room for cacao and rubber plantations.

The native wildlife of hyenas, lions, giraffes, antelopes, monkeys and apes, elephants and leopards is now only visible in the country’s protected natural parks and reserves.

Nigeria holds abundant deposits of natural gas and petroleum, as well as metals such as gold, tin zinc and lead

The country has a tropical climate with humid equatorial conditions in the south, where the rainy season lasts from March through to November, and less precipitation in the arid north.

The south, where average temperature range from 20°C to 33°C, also records smaller temperature variations than the north, where summer days may exceed 38 °C while nights in the same season can witness frosts.

Demography of Nigeria

Nigeria stands out by the diversity of its population. Most populous country in the continent, it is home to some 250 ethnic groups speaking over 500 languages. In addition to English, the official language, Igbo, Fula, Hausa are Yoruba are very widespread.

Religious freedom is enshrined the constitution. Over 40% of the population is Muslim, with a roughly equivalent number of Christians, although their religious practices are often mixed with rituals of traditional religions.

About half the population is rural. The country’s capital city of Abuja lies in the Federal Capital Territory, in the center of the country, however the historical capital of Lagos is very cosmopolitan and remains the country’s first city for trade, culture and economic activity.

Economy

Generally speaking, the south concentrates all of the country’s key industrial centres and trade seaports.

The Nigerian economy is one of Africa’s powerhouses, but it still faces significant challenges. An oil-rich country, Nigeria has been looking to leverage its natural resources and emerge as an oil and gas provider, somewhat neglecting agriculture, to the extent that food production can no longer meet domestic demand. With global oil prices on a downward spiral for years, import of agricultural commodities has become increasingly costly and hard to meet for the country.

To date, resource extraction is the first and the fastest-growing industry in Nigeria, while cocoa beans remain the main agricultural export.

Culture of Nigeria

Nigeria owes its rich, varied culture to a mixed heritage intertwining traditional African cultures with European and Arabic influences.

Although a number of traditional customs and practices were discouraged and even repressed by colonial governments, some have been revived after the country’s independence, such as young boys’ secret societies and rites of passage, and now combine with international urban sophistication in a captivating mix.

Nigeria’s cultural and musical scenes are extremely vibrant; for more information please read our article about Leisure in Nigeria.

Nigeria's political system

Nigeria is a federal republic comprised of 36 states. A democratic regime, it is led by a directly elected president (currently Muhammadu Buhari) serving as chief executive and head of state. Under the 1999 constitution, legislative power is vested in a bicameral National Assembly. All the president, the members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate are elected for four-year terms.

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