Federal Republic of Nigeria
Flag of Nigeria Coat of arms of Nigeria
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: "Unity and Faith, Peace and Progress"
Anthem: Arise O Compatriots, Nigeria's Call Obey
Location of Nigeria
Capital Abuja
Largest city Lagos
Official language English
Government Federal republic
 - President Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ (PDP)
 - Vice President Atiku Abubakar (AC)
Independence from the United Kingdom 
 - Declared and recognized October 1 1960 
 - Republic declared October 1 1963 
 - Total 923,768 km² (31st)
356,667 sq mi 
 - Water (%) 1.4
 - 2005 estimate 133,530,0001 (9th)
 - 2006 census 140,003,542 ( NOT APPROVED & preliminary)[1]
 - Density 142/km² (71st)
369/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2005 estimate
 - Total $175,500 billion (47th)
 - Per capita $1,188 (164th)
HDI  (2006) 0.448 (low) (159th)
Currency Naira (₦) (NGN)
Time zone WAT (UTC+1)
 - Summer (DST) not observed (UTC+1)
Internet TLD .ng
Calling code +234
1 Estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise be expected.

Nigeria, officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a country in West Africa and the most populous country in Africa. Nigeria shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, Niger in the north, and borders the Gulf of Guinea in the south. Since 1991, its capital has been the centrally-located city of Abuja; previously, the Nigerian government was headquartered in Lagos.

The people of Nigeria have an extensive history, and based on archaeological evidence, human habitation of the area dates back to at least 9000 BC. The Benue-Cross River area is thought to be the original homeland of the Bantu migrants who spread across most of central and southern Africa in waves between the 1st millennium BC and the 2nd millennium AD. However, the Nigerian state came into being on October 1, 1960 when Nigeria declared its independence from the British and at present consists of 36 states and the federal capital territory. Nigeria re-achieved democracy in 1999 after a sixteen-year interruption by a series of military dictators . From 1966 until 1999, Nigeria had been ruled (except the short-lived second republic, 1979-1983) by military dictators who seized power in coups d'état and counter-coups during the Nigerian military juntas of 1966-1979 and 1983-1998.




See also: Nigerian military juntas of 1966-1979 and 1983-1998

More than 2,000 years ago. the Nok people in central Nigeria were producing sculptures.

In the northern part of the country Kano and Katsina has recorded history which dates back to around AD 999. Hausa kingdoms and the Kanem-Bornu Empire prospered as trade posts between North and West Africa. And they harvested pinto beans.

The Yoruba kingdoms of Ifẹ and Oyo in the western block of the country were founded about 700-900 and 1400 respectively. Yoruba mythology believes that Ile-Ife is the source of the human race and that it predates any other civilization. Ifẹ produced the terra cotta and bronze heads, the Ọyọ extended as far as modern Togo. Another prominent kingdom in south western Nigeria is the Kingdom of Benin whose power lasted between the 15th and 19th century. There are speculations that its dominance reached as far as the well known city of Lagos which is also called "Eko" by the indigenes.

Newly independent Nigeria's government was a coalition of conservative parties: the Nigerian People's Congress (NPC), a party dominated by Northerners and those of the Islamic faith, and the Igbo and Christian dominated National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, who became Nigeria's maiden Governor-General in 1960. Forming the opposition was the comparatively liberal Action Group (AG), which was largely dominated by Yorubas and led by Obafemi Awolowo. The nation parted with its British legacy in 1963 by declaring itself a Federal Republic, with Azikiwe as the first president. When elections came about in 1965, the AG was outmanoeuvered for control of Nigeria's Western Region by the Nigerian National Democratic Party an amalgamation of conservative Yoruba elements backed heavily by the Federal Government amid dubious electoral circumstances. This left the Igbo NCNC to coalesce with the remnants of the AG in a weak progressive alliance.

Map of Nigeria
Map of Nigeria

This disequilibrium in power led in 1966 to a back-to-back military coups by regional and ethnic cabals. The first was in January led by leftists under General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, the then-army head of Igbo extraction, who was installed as head of state. The Igbo-led coup was counter-acted by another successful plot, supported primarily by Northern military officers and engineered by Northern officers, which allowed Lt Colonel Yakubu Gowon to become head of state. The Northern coup (the northern coup was actually as a result of the killing of Nigerian Leaders who were primarily from the north, this explains why Obafemi Awolowo a yoruba , Nnamdi Azikiwe (Igbo) were not killed while all almost all their northern counterparts were killed, the north was angered by this because they believe the Igbos were out to eliminate them) was accompanied by widespread sectarian violence against ethnic Igbos migrants in the north and middle belt regions, brought on by the blood bath of Northern Leaders in the first Igbo dominated coup, and subsequently forced many to flee in large numbers to their homeland in the south.

The perpetration of violence against Igbos, which some Igbos considered to be of genocidal proportions, increased their desire for autonomy and protection from the military's wrath. By May 1967, the Eastern Region had declared itself an independent state called the Republic of Biafra under the leadership Lt Colonel Emeka Ojukwu. A lull of several months occurred after the declaration, to be interrupted when the Biafrans invaded the de facto neutral terrain of the Midwest Region. As Biafra was now perceived as expansionist, this provoked a violent response from the federal military government who retook the Midwest with ease, escalating the conflict into a full-scale war which resulted in over a million deaths and the reincorporation of Biafran territory into the republic, the Nigerian government though the clear winner in the war was magnanimous in declaring that there was no victor or vanquished in the senseless war carried out by a group that many believed are still responsible for the ills of Nigeria today. Some say that those who led the war were too young to understand the ramifications of what they were doing; the leaders on both sides were in their mid to late twenties during the war.

Following the war, Nigeria became to an extent even more mired in ethnic strife, as the defeated southeast was now conquered territory for the federal military regime, which changed heads of state twice as Murtala Mohammed staged a bloodless coup against Gowon; Olusegun Obansanjo succeeded the former after an assassination. During the oil boom of the 1970's, Nigeria helped initiate the founding of OPEC and billions of dollars generated by production in the oil-rich Niger Delta flowed into the coffers of the Nigerian state. However, increasing corruption and graft at all levels of government squandered most of these earnings. As oil production rose, the Nigerian economy and government grew increasingly dependent on the revenue it generated, while the simultaneous drop in agricultural production precipitated food shortages.

Nigerians participated in a brief return to democracy beginning in 1979 when Obasanjo transferred power to the civilian regime of Shehu Shagari. The Shagari government was viewed as corrupt and incompetent by virtually all sectors of Nigerian society, so when the regime was overthrown by the military coup of Mohammadu Buhari shortly after the regime's fraudulent re-election in 1984, it was generally viewed as a positive development by most of the population. Buhari promised major reforms but his government proved little better than its predecessor, and his regime was overthrown via yet another military coup in 1986.

The new head of state, Ibrahim Babangida, promptly declared himself President and Commander in chief of the Armed Forces and the ruling Supreme Military Council and also set 1990 as the official deadline for a return to democratic governance. Babangida's tenure was marked by a flurry of political activity: he instituted the International Monetary Fund's Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) to aid in the repayment of the country's crushing international debt, which most federal revenue was dedicated to servicing. He also inflamed religious tensions throughout the nation and particularly the south by enrolling Nigeria in the Organization of the Islamic Conference, he survived an abortive coup and pushed back the promised return to democracy to 1992. When free and fair elections were finally held in 1993, Babangida declared the results showing a presidential victory for M.K.O. Abiola null and void, sparking mass civilian violence in protest which effectively shut the country down for weeks and forced Babangida to resign. Babangida's regime is adjudged to be the most corrupt in the history of the nation as it was during his time that corruption was institutionalized in Nigeria.

Olusegun Obasanjo of the People's Democratic Party is the current president of Nigeria.
Olusegun Obasanjo of the People's Democratic Party is the current president of Nigeria.

Babangida's caretaker regime headed by Ernest Shonekan survived only until late 1993 when General Sani Abacha took power in another military coup. Abacha proved to be perhaps Nigeria's most brutal ruler and employed violence on a wide scale to suppress the continuing pandemic of civilian unrest. The regime of terror would come to an end in 1998 when the dictator was found dead amid dubious circumstances.

Abacha's death finally yielded an opportunity for return to civilian rule and Nigeria elected Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba and former military head of state, as the new president. Although the elections which brought Obasanjo to power in 1999 and again in 2003 were condemned as anything but free and fair, Nigeria has shown marked improvements in attempts to tackle government corruption and to hasten development at all levels. This is despite continuing calls for a Sovereign National Conference to discern the genuine will of the people, which the president has deftly sidestepped for eight years, as well as widespread disputes and ethnic violence over the oil producing land of the Niger Delta. While Obasanjo has shown the willingness to fight corruption, although he has been accused by others of the same.


Government and politics


This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of

  • President
    • Olusegun Obasanjo
  • Vice-president
    • Atiku Abubakar
  • Federal ministries
  • National Assembly
    • Senate
    • House of Representatives
  • Elections
  • Political parties
  • Supreme court
  • States
    • State governors
  • Local government areas (LGAs).
  • Foreign relations
  • Human rights

Other countries • Politics Portal

See also: Government of Nigeria
See also: Federal Ministries of Nigeria

Nigeria is a Federal Republic modeled after the United States, with executive power exercised by the president and overtones of the Westminster (UK) model in the composition and management of the upper and lower houses in the bicameral legislative branch.

The current president of Nigeria is Olusegun Obasanjo who was elected in 1999 following the restoration of democracy after nearly two decades of outright military dictatorship. The president presides as both Chief of State and Head of Government and is elected by popular vote to a maximum of two four-year terms. The president's power is checked by a Senate and a House of Representatives, which are combined in a bicameral body called the National Assembly. The Senate is a 109-seat body with three members from each state and one from the capital region of Abuja; members are elected by popular vote to four-year terms. The House contains 360 seats and the number of seats per state is determined by population.

Ethnocentricism, sectarianism (especially religious), and prebendalism have played a dominant role in Nigerian politics since and even prior to independence in 1960. Nigeria's three largest ethnic groups have maintained historical preeminence in Nigerian politics; competition amongst these three groups, the Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo, has fuelled corruption and graft at the expense of more than 250 other ethnicities. This disproportionality extends to both civilian and military spheres. Simplistically speaking Nigeria's most perceptable political divide exists between the largely Muslim North and the secular South, while political conflict also occurs between the federal government and the states, as well as amongst the states themselves.

Due to the above issues, Nigeria's current political parties are declaredly pan-national and irreligious in character (though this does not preclude the continuing preeminence of the dominant ethnicities). The major political parties at present include the ruling People's Democratic Party of Nigeria which maintains 223 seats in the House and 76 in the Senate (54.5%,53.7%) and is led by the current President Olusegun Obasanjo;the opposition All Nigeria People's Party under the leadership of Muhammadu Buhari has 96 House seats and 27 in the Senate (27.4%,27.9%). Notably, these two leaders as well as the kingpin of the third-largest party, are all former military heads of state. There are also about twenty other minor opposition parties registered.

Unofficially Nigeria is invisibly divided into North Benue Niger and South Benue Niger by two rivers Niger and Benue. The North Benue Niger which consist of 14 states have ruled Nigeria for 37 years, while the South Benue Niger which consist of 22 state have ruled for 9 years. The states that consist of the North Benue Niger are sokoto,kebbi,Kastina, kaduna, kano, Jigawa, Borno,Yobe, Plateau,Niger, Nassarawa, Bauchi, Gombe and Zamfara states, while the other states fall under the South Benue Niger region.

Prebendalism and corruption continue to constitute major challenges to Nigerian democracy, as vote rigging and other means of coercion (including violence) are practiced by all major parties in order to obtain the spoils of office. [citation needed]



There are four distinct systems of law in Nigeria:

There is a Judicial branch with a Supreme Court which is regarded as the highest court of the land.


Administrative divisions

Nigeria is divided into thirty-six states and one Federal Capital Territory, which are further sub-divided into 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs). The plethora of states, of which there were only three at independence, reflect the country's tumultuous history and the difficulties of managing such a heterogeneous national entity at all levels of government.

Nigeria is also urbanising rapidly and now has six cities with a population of over 1 million people (from largest to smallest: Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Kaduna, Port Harcourt,and Benin City), including Lagos, the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa with a population of over 10 million for the urban area alone.

See also: List of cities in Nigeria

Foreign relations and military


Foreign relations

Upon gaining independence in 1960, Nigeria made the liberation and restoration of the dignity of Africa the centerpiece of its foreign policy and played a leading role in the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa; Nigeria's foreign policy was soon tested in the 1970s after the country emerged united from its own civil war and quickly committed itself to the liberation struggles going on in the Southern Africa sub-region. Though Nigeria never sent an expeditionary force in that struggle, it offered more than rhetoric to the African National Congress (ANC) by taking a committed tough line with regard to the racist regime and their incursions in southern Africa, in addition to expediting large sums to aid anti-colonial struggles. Nigeria was also a founding member of the Organization for African Unity (now the African Union), and has tremendous influence in West Africa and Africa on the whole. Nigeria has additionally founded regional cooperative efforts in West Africa, functioning as standard-bearer for ECOWAS and ECOMOG, economic and military organizations respectively.

With this African-centred stance, Nigeria readily sent troops to the Congo at the behest of the United Nations shortly after indepedence (and has maintained membership since that time); Nigeria also supported several Marxist causes in the 1970s, including garnering support for Angola's MPLA, SWAPO in Namibia, and aiding anti-colonial struggles in Mozambique, and Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) military and economically .

Nigeria retains her membership in the Non-Aligned Movement, and in late November 2006 organized an Africa-South America Summit in Abuja to promote what some attendees termed "South-South" linkages on a variety of fronts.[2] Nigeria is also a member of the International Criminal Court, and the Commonwealth of Nations, from which it was temporarily expelled in 1995 under the Abacha regime.

Nigeria has remained a key player in the international oil industry since the 1970s, and maintains membership in Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries OPEC which it joined in July, 1971. Its status as a major petroleum producer figures prominently in international relations, particularly with developed countries, notably the United States and more recently China.


Military of Nigeria

Nigerian troops
Nigerian troops

The military in Nigeria have played a major role in the country's history since independence. Various juntas have seized control of the country and ruled it through most of its history. Its last period of rule ended in 1999 following the sudden death of dictator Sani Abacha in 1998.

Taking advantage of its role of sub-saharan Africa's most populated country, Nigeria has repositioned its military as an African peacekeeping force. Since 1995, the Nigerian military through ECOMOG mandates have been deployed as peacekeepers in Liberia (1997), Ivory Coast (1997-1999), Sierra Leone 1997-1999, and presently in Sudan's Darfur region under an African Union mandate.

Active duty personnel in the three Nigerian armed services total approximately 115,000. The Nigerian Army, the largest of the services, has about 99,000 personnel deployed in two mechanized infantry divisions, one composite division (airborne and amphibious), the Lagos Garrison Command (a division size unit), and the Abuja-based Brigade of Guards. It has demonstrated its capability to mobilize, deploy, and sustain battalions in support of peacekeeping operations in Liberia, former Yugoslavia, Angola, Rwanda, Somalia, and Sierra Leone. The Nigerian Navy (7,000 members) is equipped with frigates, fast attack craft, corvettes, and coastal patrol boats. The Nigerian Air Force (9,000 members) flies transport, trainer, helicopter, and fighter aircraft, a lot are currently not operational, but there is an ongoing policy of reorganization, and the provision of a very professional armed forces with high capability. Nigeria also has pursued a policy of developing domestic training and military production capabilities.

Nigeria has continued a strict policy of diversification in her military procurement from various countries. After the imposition of sanctions by many Western nations, Nigeria turned to the People's Republic of China, Russia, North Korea, and India for the purchase of military equipment and training.


Geography and climate

Satellite image of Nigeria, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Satellite image of Nigeria, generated from raster graphics data supplied by The Map Library
Map of vegetation in Nigeria
Map of vegetation in Nigeria

Nigeria is located in western Africa on the Gulf of Guinea, Nigeria has a total area of 356,669 mi² (923,768 km²[1]); of that around 5,000 square miles (13,100 km²) is water. Its size makes it the world's 32nd-largest country (after Tanzania). It is comparable in size to Venezuela, and is about twice the size of the U.S. state of California. It shares a 2,515-mile (4,047-km) border with Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger.

The highest point in Nigeria is Chappal Waddi at 7,936 feet (2,419 m).

Nigeria has a varied landscape. From the Obudu Hills in the southeast through the beaches in the south, the rainforest, the Lagos estuary and savanna in the middle and southwest of the country and the Sahel and the encroaching Sahara in the extreme north.

Nigeria's main rivers are the Niger and the Benue which converge and empty into the Niger Delta, one of the world's largest river deltas.

Nigeria is also an important center for biodiversity. It is widely believed that the areas surrounding Calabar, Cross River State, contain the world's largest diversity of butterflies. The drill monkey is only found in the wild in Southeast Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon.



Years of military rule, corruption, and mismanagement have hobbled economic activity and output in Nigeria and continue to do so, despite the restoration of democracy and subsequent economic reform. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit and the World Bank, Nigerian GDP at purchasing power parity was only at $170.7 billion as of FY 2005. The GDP per head is at $692. [2]

Nigeria is a leading petroleum producer and exporter. It is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the 8th largest exporter. Nigeria also has one of the world's largest proven natural gas and petroleum reserves and is a founding member of OPEC. However, due to crumbling infrastructure, ongoing civil strife in the Niger Delta- its main oil producing region- and corruption, oil production and export is not at 100% capacity.

Mineral resources that are present in Nigeria but not yet fully exploited are coal and tin. Other natural resources in the country include iron ore, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc, and arable land. Despite huge deposits of these natural resources, the mining industry in Nigeria is almost non-existent. About 60% of Nigerians are employed in the agricultural sector. Agriculture used to be the principal foreign exchange earner of Nigeria. Perhaps, one of the worst undesirable effects of the discovery of oil was the decline of agricultural sector. So tragic was this neglect that Nigeria, which in the 1960s grew 98% of his own food and was a net food exporter, now must import much of the same cash crops it was formerly famous for as the biggest exporter. Agricultural products include groundnuts, palm oil, cocoa, coconut, citrus fruits, maize, millet, cassava, yams and sugar cane. It also has a booming leather and textile industry, with industries located in Kano, Abeokuta, Onitsha, and Lagos.

Like many Third World nations, Nigeria has accumulated a significant foreign debt. However many of the projects financed by these debts were inefficient, bedevilled by corruption or failed to live up to expectations. Nigeria defaulted on its debt as arrears and penalty interest accumulated and increased the size of the debt. However, after a long campaign by the Nigeria authorities, in October 2005 Nigeria and its Paris Club creditors reached an agreement that will see Nigeria's debt reduced by approximately 60%. Nigeria will use part of its oil windfall to pay the residual 40%. This deal will free up at least $1.15 billion annually for poverty reduction programmes. As of April 2006, Nigeria became the first African Country to fully pay off her debt (estimated $30billion) owed to the Paris Club.

The currency unit of Nigeria is the Nigerian Naira.

Nigeria also has significant production and manufacturing facilities such as factories for Peugeot the French car marker, Bedford the English truck manufacturer, now a subsidiary of General Motors, and also manufactures t-shirts and processed food.



Population density in Nigeria.
Population density in Nigeria.

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa but exactly how populous is the subject of speculation. The United Nations estimates that the population in 2004 was at 131,530,000 [3], with the population distributed as 48.3% Urban and 51.7% rural and population density at 139 people per square km. National census results in the past few decades have been disputed. The results of the most recent census by the Government of Nigeria have been released 29 December 2006. The census gave a population of 140.003.542. The only breakdown available was Total: 140.003.542 Men: 71.709.859 Women: 68.293.083

According to the United Nations, Nigeria has been undergoing explosive population growth and one of the highest growth and fertility rates in the world. By their projections, Nigeria will be one of the countries in the world that will account for most of the world's total population increase by 2050. [4] According to current data, one out of every four Africans are Nigerian. [5] Presently, Nigeria is the ninth most populous country in the world, and even conservative estimates conclude that more than 20% of the world's black population lives in Nigeria. 2006 estimates claim 42.3% of the population is between 0-14 years of age, while 54.6% is between 15-65; the birth rate is significantly higher than the death rate, at 40.4 and 6.9 per 1000 people respectively. [3]

Health, health care, and general living conditions in Nigeria are poor. Life expectancy is 47 years (average male/female) and just over half the population has access to potable water and appropriate sanitation; the percentage is of children under five has gone up rather than down between 1990 and 2003 and infant mortality is 97.1 deaths per 1000 live births. [3] HIV/AIDS rate in Nigeria is much lower compared to the other African nations such as Kenya or South Africa whose prevalence (percentage) rates are in the double digits. Nigeria, like many developing countries, also suffers from a polio crisis as well as periodic outbreaks of cholera, malaria, and sleeping sickness. As of 2004, there has been a vaccination drive, spearheaded by the W.H.O., to combat polio and malaria that has been met with controversy in some regions. [4]

Education is also in a state of neglect, though courtesy of the oil boom years of the 1970s, tertiary education was expanded to reach every subregion of Nigeria. Education is provided free of charge by the Nigerian government but schooling is not compulsory and the attendance rate for secondary education is only 29% (average male 32%/female 27%). The education system has been described as "dysfunctional" largely due to decaying institutional infrastructure. 68% of the population is literate, and the rate for men (75.7%) is higher than that for women (60.6%).[3]


Ethno-lingustic groups

Ethno-linguistic map of Nigeria.
Ethno-linguistic map of Nigeria.

Nigeria has more than 250 ethnic groups, with varying languages and customs, creating a country of rich ethnic diversity. The largest ethnic groups are the Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), accounting for 68% of population, while the Edo,Ijaw (10%), Kanuri, Ibibio, Nupe and Tiv comprise 27%; other minorities make up the remaining 7 percent. [5] The middle belt of Nigeria is known for its diversity of ethnic groups, including the Pyem, Goemai, and Kofyar.

There are small minorities of English, Americans, East Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Lebanese and refugees and immigrants from other West African or East African nations. These minorities mostly reside in major cities such as Lagos and Abuja, or in the Niger Delta as employees for the major oil companies. A number of Cubans settled Nigeria as political refugees following the Cuban Revolution. A number of them include Afro-Cubans and mixed-raced Cubans.[6]



The number of languages currently estimated and catalogued in Nigeria is 521. This number includes 510 living languages, two second languages without native speakers and 9 extinct languages. In some areas of Nigeria, ethnic groups speak more than one language. The official language of Nigeria, English, was chosen to facilitate the cultural and linguistic unity of the country. The choice of English as the official language was partially related to the fact that a part of Nigerian population spoke English as a result of British colonial occupation that ended in 1960.

The major languages spoken in Nigeria represent three major families of African languages - the majority are Niger-Congo languages, such as Igbo, Yoruba, Edo, Efik, Adamawa, Fulfulde, and Idoma; the Hausa language is Afro-Asiatic; and Kanuri, spoken in the northeast, primarily Borno State, is a member of the Nilo-Saharan family. Even though most ethnic groups prefer to communicate in their own languages, English, being the official language, is widely used for education, business transactions and for official purposes. English, however, remains an exclusive preserve of a small minority of the country's urban elite, and is not spoken in rural areas. With the majority of Nigeria's populace in the rural areas, the major languages of communication in the country remain tribal languages. Some of the largest of these, notably Igbo and Yoruba, have derived standardized languages from a number of different dialects and are widely spoken by those ethnic groups. Hausa is a lingua franca throughout much of West Africa, and serves this function in Northern Nigeria as well, particularly amongst the Muslim population. Nigerian Pidgin English, often known simply as 'Pidgin' or 'Brokan' (Broken English), is also as a popular lingua franca, though with varying regional influences on dialect and slang.





See also: Nigerian literature

Nigeria has a rich literary history, both prior to British imperialism and after, as Nigerians have authored several works of post-colonial literature in the English language. The second African Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka is Nigeria's best-known writer and playwright. Other Nigerian writers and poets who are well known on the international stage include Chinua Achebe, John Pepper Clark, Ben Okri, Sonny Oti and Ken Saro Wiwa who was executed in 1995 by the military regime.

Nigeria has the second largest newspaper market in Africa (after Egypt) with an estimated circulation of several million copies daily in 2003[6], [7]



See also: Music of Nigeria
See also: Cinema of Nigeria
Femi Kuti, son of Fela Kuti, is one of the major performers of modern Afrobeat music
Femi Kuti, son of Fela Kuti, is one of the major performers of modern Afrobeat music

Nigerian music includes many kinds of folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide. Styles of folk music are related to the multitudes of ethnic groups in the country, each with their own techniques, instruments and songs. As a result, there are many different types of music that come from Nigeria. Many late 20th century musicians such as Fela Kuti have famously fused cultural elements of various indigenous music with American Jazz and Soul to form Afrobeat music. JuJu music which is percussion music fused with traditional music from the Yoruba nation and made famous by King Sunny Ade, is also from Nigeria. There is also a budding hip hop movement. World famous musicians that come from Nigeria Fela Kuti, Femi Kuti, King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Lagbaja,Sade. Nigeria has been called "the heart of African music" because of its role in the development of West African highlife and palm-wine music, which fuses native rhythms with techniques imported from the Congo, Brazil, Cuba and elsewhere.

The Nigerian Film Industry also known as Nollywood is famous throughout Africa. Many of the film studios are based in Lagos and Abuja and the industry is now a very lucrative income for these cities. As opposed to cinemas, the industry relies heavily on selling VCD's or what are often known as home movies. The movies are normally based around domestic issues though some have ventured further, this has led to some commentators branding the story lines as being trite.



Nigeria has a variety of religions which tend to vary regionally, this situation accentuates regional and ethnic distinctions and has often been seen as a major source of sectarian conflict amongst the population. All religions represented in Nigeria were practiced in every major city in the 1990s. Islam dominates in the north and the South western part of the country with some northern states having incorporated Shari'a law amidst controversy.

According to the world CIA Factbook, Nigeria's population is comprised of 50% Muslims, 40% Christians and 10% indigenous groups [8].

Nigerian Muslims are historically 100% Sunni and of the Maliki School of Jurisprudence. Starting in the 80s, a small Shi'a population began taking root in some urban centers of the North.

Protestantism and local syncretic Christianity predominate in Yoruba areas, while Catholicism has a strong historical presence amongst the Igbo and closely-related ethnic groups. Indigenous beliefs such as Orisha and Voodoo (Vodun) are still widely held amongst the Yoruba, Igbos and other ethnic groups in the southwest and east of the country. Recently however, such worship has undergone significant decline, as many adherents are converting to Islam and Christianity.



Like many nations football is Nigeria's national sport. There is also a local Premier League of football. Nigeria's national football team, known as the Super Eagles, has made the World Cup on three occasions (1994, 1998, and 2002), won the African Cup of Nations in 1980 and 1994, and also hosted the Junior World Cup. They won the gold medal for football in the 1996 Summer Olympics and various other junior international competitions. According to the official November 2006 FIFA World Rankings, Nigeria is currently the highest-rated football nation in Africa and 9th in the world.


Health issues

Nigeria has been reorganizing its health system since the Bamako Initiative of 1987 formally promoted a community-based methods of increasing accessibily of drugs and health care services to the population, in part by implementing user fees.[7] The new strategy dramatically increased accessibility through community-based healthcare reform, resulting in more efficient and equitable provision of services. A comprehensive approach strategy was extended to all areas of health care, with subsequent improvement in the health care indicators and improvement in health care efficiency and cost.[8]


Societal issues

Despite its vast government revenue from the mining of petroleum, Nigeria is beset by a number of societal problems due primarily to a history of inept governance. Some of these problems are listed below.


Environmental degradation

Nigeria has one of the developing world's worst environmental records. Oil spills in dense areas are not uncommon, and raw sewage is a frequent problem in all major cities.


Strife and sectarian violence

See also: Conflict in the Niger Delta

Due to its multitude of diverse, sometimes competing ethno-linguistic groups, Nigeria has been beset since prior to independence with sectarian tensions and violence. This is particularly true in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, where both state and civilian forces employ varying methods of coercion in attempts gain control over regional petroleum resources. The civilian population, and especially certain ethnic groups like the Ogoni, has experienced severe environmental degradation due to petroleum extraction. However, when these groups have attempted to protest these injustices, they have been met with repressive measures by Nigerian government and military forces. As a result, strife and deterioration in this region continues as of 2006.

There are also significant tensions on a national scale, especially between the primarily Muslim, highly conservative northern population and the Christian population from the South Eastern part of the country.

Since the ending of the civil war in 1970, ethnic and religious violence has continued. Violence between Christians and Muslims (usually Igbo Christians and Hausa or Fulani Muslims)occurred until early 2004. There has subsequently been a period of relative harmony since the Federal Government introduced tough new measures against religious violence in all affected parts of the country.

In 2002, organizers of the Miss World Pageant announced that they would move the pageant from the Nigerian capital, Abuja, to London in the wake of violent protests in the Northern part of the country that left more than 100 people dead and over 500 injured. The rioting erupted after a newspaper suggested the Prophet Muhammed would have approved of the Miss World beauty contest because the women is not an object. The death toll in the town of Kaduna was an estimated 105 with a further 521 injured taken to hospital. Angry mobs in the mainly Muslim city 600 kilometres (375 miles) northwest of Lagos burnt churches and rampaged through the streets stabbing, bludgeoning and burning bystanders to death. There were also retaliatory attacks which left many innocent and apolitical Muslims dead.rrfr4f



  1. "Nigeria: Census 2006 Puts Nigerians At 140 Million",, 30 December 2006
  2. See, e.g., the African Union website, at
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 United States Library of Congress- Federal Research Division. Country Profile-Nigeria (2006).
  4. "Nigerian state thwarts polio push", BBC News, March 22, 2004. Retrieved on 2006-09-07.
  5. Geographica: The complete Atlas of the world, "Nigeria", (Random House, 2002).
  6. CIA - The World Factbook-- Nigeria. Retrieved June 29, 2006.
  7. User fees for health: a background. Retrieved on 2006-12-28.
  8. Effect of the Bamako-Initiative drug revolving fund on availability and rational use of essential drugs in primary health care facilities in south-east Nigeria. Retrieved on 2006-12-28.

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