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The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a West African country on the Atlantic Coast, between Benin and Cameroon, with a long border with Niger on the north, and a very small border with Chad to the northeast, within Lake Chad.

Its capital city is Abuja, although it is the eighth most populated city. Larger cities include Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Benin City, Port Harcourt, Jos, and Ilorin, ranging from a population of more than 8,000,000 to just under 800,000.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. There are more than two hundred and fifty ethnic groups in the country. The largest and most politically active are the Hausa and Fulani, the Yoruba, Igbo, Ijaw, Kanuri, Ibibio, and Tiv. More than five hundred languages are spoken in Nigeria, English being the most common and the official language of the country.

Islam is the dominant religion in Nigeria, although Christianity is also widely professed. Christianity is strongest in the south, while most northerners are Muslim. Approximately 50% of the country are Muslims, Sunni being the majority sect, while about 40% are Christians, with the remainder spread out between various ethnic and other religions. Although they don't account for a large percentage of the population, the largest temple of the Eckankar religion is in Port Harcourt, and the Hare Krishnas and Grail Movement also have a presence in the country.

Nigeria is situated in what is known as the elbow of West Africa, just before the coast moves south. Although its tourist potential has not been marketed, Nigeria hosts a diverse geography. In its coastal area, tropical forests and agricultural lands give way to the mangrove swamps of the Niger Delta in the east. The center of the country is characterized by plateaus and hills, with mountains in the east, while dry savanna turns into a desert region in the north.

The Niger and Benue rivers divide the country into three parts, roughly forming a Y-shape just south of the center. The Niger River enters Nigeria from the northwest, flowing southeast, while the Benue River flows into the country from the east, then moves southwest to meet the Niger south of Abuja, before continuing south to the Atlantic.

Nigeria is rich in natural resources. Petroleum reserves and natural gas are found offshore and in the Niger Delta region, and the hill country has coal, columbite, copper, iron, lead, tin, and zinc. Its agricultural lands are in the center of the country, and fishing and forestry are important along the coast.

The climate in Nigeria is hot and tropical year-round, varying with the amount of rainfall. The coastal area has the highest amount of precipitation, the central region is tropical and humid, while the north is drier. There are two seasons in Nigeria: dry and rainy, with the amount of rain decreasing as you go north from the coast.

Modern Nigeria was created in 1960 when British colonialism ended, but the history of its people goes back as far as 1500 BC. Various kingdom and empires controlled the land, or portions of it, from the Middle Ages to 1800, when it became British Nigeria. For centuries, Nigeria was active in the slave trade. Bonny Island, on the Bight of Biafra, was one of the largest slave trading posts in West Africa, while other major slaving ports were in Badagry and Lagos, on the Bight of Benin.

While Britain eventually ended the slave trade, it first participated in it. Nigeria became a British Protectorate in 1901. While Christian missions were active within the British protectorates, the Crown discouraged the operation of Christian missions in the Islamic northern part of the country and, in fact, interfered very little with northern Nigeria. Northern Nigeria did not outlaw slavery until 1936, while it was outlawed elsewhere in 1807.

Upon gaining independence in 1960, its political parties were largely divided over religion. The Nigerian People's Congress was dominated by northerners of Islamic faith, while the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons were made up of the Christian south, and the Action Group was made up of western Nigerians dominated by the Yoruba people, and was a more liberal-leaning party.

This did not make for a peaceful coalition. A succession of military coups and counter-coups began in 1966. A civil war began in 1967, as the region to the east declared its independence as the Republic of Biafra, which existed until 1970. As many as three million people died. In 1970, Nigeria was controlled by military juntas, although there were periodic elections.

Democracy began in 1999, when there was a peaceful transition, ending more than thirty years of military rule. While there were violent protests and ethnic violence, the country has enjoyed peaceful transitions of power since that time.

The government of Nigeria is modeled after that of the United States.


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