Nigeria facts

Nigeria facts

Full name: Federal Republic of Nigeria
Area: 923,768 km square
Capital: Abuja
Largest city: Lagos
Population: 170 million

With a population of over 170 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, the 17th most populous in the world.

The people of Nigeria are extremely diverse, with over 250 ethnic groups speaking over 500 languages. English is the official language, is the everyday language of government most businesses, whilst most of the population speaks native languages such as Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Ibibio, Ebo, Fulfulde Kanuri.

50 of Nigerians are Muslim, who mostly live in the northern half of the country, while 40 are Christians, living mainly in the south. The remaining 10 practice indigenous beliefs, are widely dispersed throughout the country.



Nigeria is a constitutional presidential republic. The President acts as Head of State Head of Government, as well as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. The President appoints a Cabinet, consisting of 19 ministers. The legislative branch consists of the Senate House of Representatives, collectively known as the National Assembly.

Nigeria has a federal system which gives a large degree of autonomy to each of its 36 states. Each state government is led by a Governor, with a House of Assembly acting as the legislature. Presidential, gubernatorial legislative elections take place every four years.

Nigeria is an active engaged member of the international community of international organisations including the United Nations (UN), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African (AU) the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

It now has peacekeeping troops /or police deployed in support of peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Western Sahara, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Haiti Lebanon.



At USD268.7 billion, Nigeria’s nominal GDP is the second-highest of any country in Africa, is currently growing at 7.1 in real terms. Nigeria is poised to become Africa’s largest economy within the next decade, with some estimates indicating that this milestone will be reached as early as 2014.

In order to bring further prosperity to the nation, to improve the life chances of all Nigerians, President Jonathan has laid out a programme known as Vision 20:2020, which aims to see Nigeria’s economy become at least the 20th-largest in the world by the year 2020.

Nigeria’s petroleum sector is by far the most important in Africa the country possesses the largest proven oil reserves in sub-Saharan Africa. Petroleum thus makes up 87 of Nigeria’s export revenue 12 of its GDP.

Approximately 70 of Nigerians work in agriculture, which makes up around 30 of the GDP. Nigeria exports cash crops such as cocoa, cotton peanuts, has recently become a net exporter of wheat.

President Goodluck Jonathan has committed to diversifying the Nigeria’s economy over the course of his administration, expanding the manufacturing base acting as a hub for the services sector across West Africa.



Nigeria is the 10th largest country is sub-Saharan Africa by area at 923,768 km sq. it is nearly four times larger than the United Kingdom. The country is bordered by Benin to the west, Niger to the north, Chad Cameroon to the east, the Gulf of Guinea to the South.

The Niger River runs from the country’s northwest down to the coast, where it forms the Niger Delta, a group of hundreds of creeks feeding into the Gulf of Guinea, which is home to most of Nigeria’s oil reserves.

Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city is in the west of the country, on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea, close to the border with Benin. At nearly 15 million people, Lagos’s population makes it the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa, the economic beating heart of the West African region. By some estimates, Lagos itself sets to become Africa’s 13th largest economy within the next few years.


Multiparty government transitioning from military to civilian rule.


The first inhabitants of what is now Nigeria were thought to have been the Nok people (500 BC –c. AD 200). The Kanuri, Hausa, and Fulani peoples subsequently migrated there. Islam was introduced in the 13th century, and the empire of Kanem controlled the area from the end of the 11th century to the 14th.

The Fulani empire ruled the region from the beginning of the 19th century until the British annexed Lagos in 1851 and seized control of the rest of the region by 1886. It formally became the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria in 1914. During World War I, native troops of the West African frontier force joined with French forces to defeat the German garrison in Cameroon.


On Oct. 1, 1960, Nigeria gained independence, becoming a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and joining the United Nations. Organized as a loose federation of self-governing states, the independent nation faced the overwhelming task of unifying a country with 250 ethnic and linguistic groups.

Rioting broke out in 1966, and military leaders, primarily of Ibo ethnicity, seized control. In July, a second military coup put Col. Yakubu Gowon in power, a choice unacceptable to the Ibos. Also in that year, the Muslim Hausas in the north massacred the predominantly Christian Ibos in the east, many of whom had been driven from the north. Thousands of Ibos took refuge in the eastern region, which declared its independence as the Republic of Biafra on May 30, 1967. Civil war broke out. In Jan. 1970, after 31 months of civil war, Biafra surrendered to the federal government.


Gowon’s nine-year rule was ended in 1975 in a bloodless coup that made Army Brig. Muritala Rufai Mohammed the new chief of state. The return of civilian leadership was established with the election of Alhaji Shehu Shagari as president in 1979. An oil boom in the 1970s buoyed the economy and by the 1980s, Nigeria was considered an exemplar of African democracy and economic well-being.

The military again seized power in 1984, only to be followed by another military coup the following year. Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida announced that the country would be returned to civilian rule, but after the presidential election of June 12, 1993, he voided the results. Nevertheless, Babangida did resign as president in August. In November the military, headed by defense minister Sani Abacha, seized power again.

Corruption and notorious governmental inefficiency as well as a harshly repressive military regime characterized Abacha’s reign over this oil-rich country, turning it into an international pariah. A UN fact-finding mission in 1996 reported that Nigeria’s “problems of human rights are terrible and the political problems are terrifying.” During the 1970s, Nigeria had the 33rd highest per capita income in the world, but by 1997 it had dropped to the 13th poorest. The hanging of writer Ken Saro-Wiwa in 1995 because he protested against the government was condemned around the world.

As leader of the multination peacekeeping force ECOMOG, Nigeria established itself as West Africa’s superpower, intervening militarily in the civil wars of Liberia and Sierra Leone. But Nigeria’s costly war efforts were unpopular with its own people, who felt Nigeria’s limited economic resources were being unnecessarily drained.

Abacha died of a heart attack in 1998 and was succeeded by another military ruler, Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, who pledged to step aside for an elected leader by May 1999. The suspicious death of opposition leader Mashood Abiola, who had been imprisoned by the military ever since he legally won the 1993 presidential election, was a crushing blow to democratic proponents. In Feb. 1999, free presidential elections led to an overwhelming victory for Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, a former member of the military elite who was imprisoned for three years for criticizing the military rule. Obasanjo’s commitment to democracy, his anticorruption drives, and his desire to recover billions allegedly stolen by the family and cronies of Abacha initially gained him high praise from the populace as well as the international community. But within two years, the hope of reform seemed doomed as economic mismanagement and rampant corruption persisted. Obasanjo’s priorities in 2001 were epitomized by his plans to build a $330 million national soccer stadium, an extravagance that exceeded the combined budget for both health and education. In April 2003, he was reelected.

Nigeria’s stability has been repeatedly threatened by fighting between fundamentalist Muslims and Christians over the spread of Islamic law (sharia) across the heavily Muslim north. One-third of Nigeria’s 36 states is ruled by sharia law. More than 10,000 people have died in religious clashes since military rule ended in 1999.

In 2003, after religious and political leaders in the Kano region banned polio immunization—contending that it sterilized girls and spread HIV—an outbreak of polio spread through Nigeria, entering neighboring countries the following year. The Kano region lifted its ten-month ban against vaccination in July 2004. On Aug. 24, there were 602 polio cases worldwide, 79% of which were in Nigeria.

Since 2004, insurgency has wreaked havoc in the Niger delta, Nigeria’s oil-producing region. The desperately impoverished local residents of the delta have seen little benefit from Nigeria’s vast oil riches, and rebel groups are fighting for a more equal distribution of the wealth as well as greater regional autonomy. Violence by rebel groups has disrupted oil production and reduced output by about 20%. Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers and supplies the U.S. with one-fifth of its oil.

In Aug. 2006 Nigeria handed over the oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to Cameroon, in compliance with a 2002 World Court ruling.

Corruption and Violence Taint Democratic Elections

April 2007 national elections—the country’s first transition from one democratically elected president to another—were marred by widespread allegations of fraud, ballot stuffing, violence, and chaos. Just days before the election, the Supreme Court ruled that the election commission’s decision to remove from the ballot Vice President Atiku Abubakar, a leading candidate and a bitter rival of President Olusegun Obsanjo, was illegal. Ballots were reprinted, but they only showed party symbols rather than the names of candidates. Umaru Yar’Adua, the candidate of the governing party, won the election in a landslide, taking more than 24.6 million votes. Second-place candidate Muhammadu Buhari tallied only about 6 million votes. International observers called the vote flawed and illegitimate. The chief observer for the European Union said the results “cannot be considered to have been credible.” An election tribunal ruled in Feb. 2008 that although the election was indeed flawed, the evidence of rigging was not substantial enough to overturn the election results.

The rebel group in Nigeria’s oil-producing region, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, declared a cease-fire in September. Since the insurgency broke out in 2004, Nigeria’s oil production has been significantly reduced, from about 2.5 million barrels a day to 1.5 million.

Deadly violence broke out in July 2009 in northeastern Nigeria between government troops and an obscure fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram, which is opposed to Western education and seeks to have Sharia law implemented throughout the country. The group’s name translates to “Western education is sinful.” As many as 1,000 civilians died in the battles. The fighting began after militants attacked police stations and seemed to be preparing for a pitched religious war against the government. The police, followed by the army, retaliated and unleashed a five-day assault against the sect. The group’s leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was killed in the campaign and the group was nearly decimated.

President Umaru Yar’Adua took ill in November 2009 and traveled to Saudi Arabia for medical treatment. Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, a zoologist, took over as acting president in Feb. 2010. He dissolved his cabinet in March. The move was widely considered an attempt to establish authority over the country. President Yar’Adua died in May, and Jonathan, who is from the mainly Christian south, assumed the presidency.

Sectarian violence broke out in the city of Jos, which is located in Plateau state between the country’s Muslim north and Christian south, in Jan. 2010. At least 325 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the fighting. Another round of violence occurred in Jos in March. The victims were mostly Christians who were hacked to death in their sleep. Local officials suspected the attackers were seeking revenge for the murders in January. The number of fatalities ranged from 200 to 500.

Jonathan prevailed in presidential elections in April 2011, taking about 60% of the vote. He defeated Muhammadu Buhari, the former military ruler who is from the Muslim north. International observers deemed the elections fair–the cleanest in decades

What is the largest city in Nigeria?
Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria covering an area of 385.9 square miles. It is the third-most populous city in Africa with an estimated population of 7,937,932. As of now, it is the second-fastest growing city in Africa. It was once the capital of the country, and is the economic and financial capital of the country at present.

What countries border Nigeria?
Nigeria is bordered by the Republic of Benin on the west, Chad and Cameroon on the east, and by Niger in the north. On the south it borders the Gulf of Guinea

How big is Nigeria?
Nigeria is a country covering a total area of 356,667 square miles. As of 2011, the country has an estimated population of 167 million; it is the seventh-most populous country in the world.

What are the main ethnic groups in Nigeria?
Nigeria is a country of rich ethnic diversity composed of over 250 ethnic groups. The three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. The other major tribes in the country include Edo, Ijaw, Kanuri, Ibibio, Ebira Nupe and Tiv. Also there are minority groups of British, American, East Indian, Chinese, white Zimbabwean,Japanese, Greek, Syrian and Lebanese immigrants in Nigeria.

What are the administrative divisions of Nigeria?
Nigeria is a country comprising thirty-six states and one Federal Capital Territory. The states are further divided into 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs).

Who are the political leaders of Nigeria?
The government of Nigeria is a presidential federal republic.
President – Muhammadu Buhari
Vice President – Yemi Osinbajo

What currency is used in Nigeria?
The Naira denoted by the ISO 4217 code NGN) is the official currency of Nigeria. It is subdivided into 100 kobo.

What is the official language of Nigeria?
English is the official language of Nigeria and is extensively used for education, business transactions and for official purposes. Despite being the first language, English is not spoken at all in some rural areas. Because the majority of the population of the country stays in rural areas, indigenous languages such as the Yoruba and Igbo are spoken by the majority. A derived language called the Nigerian Pidgin English, also called the ‘Pidgin’ or Broken English is also a popular lingua-franca in the country.

What is the religion of Nigeria?
Nigeria is a multi-religious country. Fifty percent of the population practice Islam while the rest adhere to Christianity. The other minority religions in the country include Hinduism, Judaism, the Baha’i Faith, and Chrislam (a syncretic faith that contains elements of Christianity and Islam).

What is the economy of Nigeria like?
Nigeria has the second-largest economy in Africa. It is classified as an emerging market owing to its rich reserves of natural resources, and well-developed financial and communications sectors. The transportation sector and stock exchange of the country add to the finances. The Nigerian Stock Exchange is the second-largest in Africa. Petroleum is a major product playing a significant role in the economy of the country; it is the twelfth-largest producer of petroleum in the world.

Manufactured products like leather, textiles, t-shirts, plastics and processed food enhance the economy of the country. Agriculture is also important, employing almost sixty percent of Nigerians. Cocoa, sugar cane, yams, maize, palm oil, groundnuts, coconuts, citrus fruits, pearl millet, and cassava are the major agricultural products.

However, health care, education, and general living conditions in Nigeria are poor, and these pose a serious threat to the otherwise advancing country.

When is the national day of Nigeria celebrated?
The national day in Nigeria is celebrated on October 1 every year. The day is celebrated to commemorate the independence of Nigeria from the United Kingdom on this day in 1960. The country was declared a Republic on October 1, 1963.