The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a country in West Africa and, by far, the most populated nation in Africa. It borders on Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, Niger in the north and the Gulf of Guinea in the south. Major cities include the capital Abuja, the former capital Lagos, Abeokuta, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Kano, Kaduna, Jos, and Benin City. The country's name is unrelated to its African heritage, it was proposed by a Times article in 1897.

Federal Republic of Nigeria
(In Detail) (Full size)
National motto: Unity and Strength, Peace and Progress
Official language English
Capital Abuja
Largest city Lagos
President Olusegun Obasanjo
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 31st
923,768 km²
 - Total (2004)
 - Density
Ranked 9th
 - Date
From the United Kingdom
October 1 1960
Currency Naira
Time zone UTC +1
National anthem Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria's Call Obey
Internet TLD .ng
Calling Code 234


Main article: History of Nigeria

The Kanem-Bornu Empire near Lake Chad dominated northern Nigeria for over 600 years, prospering as a terminal of north-south trade between North African Berbers and forest people. In the early 19th century, Usman dan Fodio brought most areas in the north under the loose control of an Islamic empire centered in Sokoto.

The kingdoms of Oyo in the southwest, and Benin in the southeast both developed elaborate systems of political organization in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Ife and Benin are noted for their prized artistic works in ivory, wood, bronze, and brass.

In the 17th through 19th centuries, European traders established coastal ports for the increasing traffic in slaves destined for the Americas. Commodity trade replaced slave trade in the 19th century.

The Royal Niger Company was chartered by the British government in 1886. Nigeria became a British protectorate in 1901, and a colony in 1914. In response to the growth of Nigerian nationalism following World War II, the British moved the colony towards self-government on a federal basis.

Nigeria was granted full independence in 1960, as a federation of three regions, each retaining a substantial measure of self-government.

In 1966, two successive coups by different groups of army officers brought the country under military rule. The leaders of the second coup tried to increase the power of the federal government, and replaced the regional governments with 12 state governments. The Igbos, the dominant ethnic group in the eastern region, declared independence as the Republic of Biafra in 1967 following a pogrom in the northern states that led to the extermination of 30,000 Igbos. The Igbos created Biafra and war broke out with the Federal Government. Under Brigadiers Adekunle, Obasanjo and Murtala Mohammed a systematic and amphibous battle plan that comprised saturated air bombings and starvation forced the Biafran rebels to capitulate. On the 15 of January, left with the choice of surrender and the total destruction of the Biafran populace, Philip Effiong, Chief of Staff of the rebel army accepted the terms of surrender before Yakubu Gowon, Head of the Northern dominated federal government.

In 1975, a bloodless coup swept Gowon aside and brought Murtala Ramat Mohammed to power, who promised a return to civilian rule. However, he was killed in an abortive coup, and succeeded by his chief of staff, Olusegun Obasanjo. A new constitution was drafted in 1977, and elections were held in 1979, which were won by Shehu Shagari.

Nigeria returned to military government in 1983, by a coup which established the Supreme Military Council as the country's new ruling body. After elections in 1993, Chief M.K.O. Abiola won the June 12, 1993 Presidential Election, which were canceled by the military government of General Babangida. An Interim National Government was set up, headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan. The Government was declared Illegal and unconstitutional by an High Court and General Sani Abacha took power. He imprisoned Chief M.K.O. Abiola and looted the National Treasury. His reign of terror came to an end when he died suddenly in 1998 Abdulsalami Abubakar became leader of the Provisional Ruling Council. He lifted the suspension of the 1979 constitution, and was set to release Chief M.K.O. Abiola the winner of the 1993 Election before the latter died in July 1998 in what International medical experts confirmed were natural causes. In 1999, Nigeria elected Olusegun Obasanjo as President in its first elections in 16 years. Obasanjo and his party also won the turbulent elections of 2003.


Main article: Politics of Nigeria

Nigeria is a Federal Republic, comprising 36 states plus the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja.


Main article: States of Nigeria
For traditional states, see Nigerian traditional states

Nigeria is divided into 36 states and 1 territory.

Each state has a unicameral House of Assembly and an elected Governor, who appoints an Executive Council.


Map of Nigeria
Map of Nigeria

Main article: Geography of Nigeria

Nigeria is located on the Gulf of Guinea. Its major cities are located in southern lowlands. The central part of the country contains hills and plateaus. The north consists of arid plains. Its neighboring countries are Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

Forest and woodland occurs chiefly in the southern third of the country, which is affected by seasonal rains from the Atlantic which occur from June to September. As one progresses northward the country becomes drier and the vegetation more savanna in type. The northern third of the country forms part of the semi-arid sahel region on the fringes of the Sahara desert.

Nigeria is divided roughly in three by the rivers Niger and Benue, which flow through the country from north-east and north-west to meet roughly in the centre of the country near the new capital city of Abuja. From here the united rivers flow south to the sea at the Niger delta .


Main article: List of cities in Nigeria

The principal cities of Nigeria are:


Main article: Economy of Nigeria

The oil-rich Nigerian economy, long hobbled by political instability, corruption, and poor macroeconomic management, is undergoing substantial economic reform under the new civilian administration. Nigeria's former military rulers failed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the capital-intensive oil sector, which provides 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and about 65% of budgetary revenues. The largely subsistence agricultural sector has not kept up with rapid population growth, and Nigeria, once a large net exporter of food, now must import food.

Mineral resources include petroleum, coal and tin. Agricultural products include groundnuts, palm oil, cocoa, citrus Fruits, maize, millet, cassava, yams and sugar cane.

Although it has gained notoriety for such a trade, Nigeria is home to the majority of advance fee fraud scammers. It is estimated that anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 scammers operate out of Nigeria, although many are found elsewhere in the world. Advance fee fraud, also known as "419" after the section of the Nigerian legal code that deals with it, typically accounts for a large majority of all money transfers to the region, and plays a sizable role in the economics of key cities such as Lagos. While in recent years many other countries have had problems with this sort of con, Nigeria remains the center of this type of scam.


Main article: Demographics of Nigeria

The most populous country in Africa, Nigeria accounts for approximately one-fifth of Africa's people. Although less than 25% of Nigerians are urban dwellers, at least 24 cities have populations of more than 100,000. The variety of customs, languages, and traditions among Nigeria's 250 ethnic groups gives the country a rich diversity. The dominant ethnic group in the northern part are the Hausa-Fulani, the overwhelming majority of whom are Muslim. Other major ethnic groups of the north are the Nupe , Tiv , and Kanuri.

The Yoruba people are predominant in the south. Over half of the Yorubas are Christian and about a quarter are Muslim, with the remainder following mostly traditional beliefs. The predominantly Christian Igbo are the largest ethnic group in the southeast. Roman Catholics are the largest denomination, but Anglican, Pentecostal and other Evangelical denominations are also strong. The Efik , Ibibio/Annang, and Ijaw (the country's fourth-largest ethnic group) communities also comprise a substantial segment of the population in that area. Persons of different language backgrounds most commonly communicate in English, although knowledge of two or more Nigerian languages is widespread. Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo are the most widely used Nigerian languages. In recent years there have been sporadic clashes between Christian and Muslim groups, particularly in the North of the country, where there has been (possibly micro-politically induced) pressure to introduce Islamic Sharia law.

One issue which has been complicated by political chaos has been the effort of the World Health Organization to eradicate polio worldwide. Northern Nigeria was the location of half of all documented polio cases in 2003, but Muslim clerics have repeatedly inveighed against the vaccine as an effort by Westerners to sterilize young Nigerian Muslim girls. The national vaccination program was suspended in several states in August of 2003, and the disease nearly quintupled in frequency (119 cases in first quarter 2004, vs. 24 in 2003). By May of 2004, polio was reported to have spread from there to several other African nations which had previously been declared polio-free. On May 18, the state of Kano agreed to resume vaccination programs using vaccines produced in Indonesia, not the US. [1]


Main article: Culture of Nigeria


Toyin Falola , Nigeria in the Twentieth Century, Carolina Academic Press 2002

See also

External links

Pictures of Nigeria

Last updated: 10-24-2005 17:10:14
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