Source: US Department of State
Federal Republic of Nigeria
Area: 923.8 thousand sq. km. (356,700 sq. mi.) about the size of California, Nevada, and Arizona.
Cities: Capital--Abuja (pop. est. 452,000). Other cities--Kano (9.3 million), Lagos (9.01 million), Ibadan (5 million), Enugu (500,000).
Ranges from southern coastal swamps to tropical forests, open
woodlands, grasslands, and semi-desert in the far north. The highest
regions are the Jos Plateau 1,200-2,400 meters above sea level and the
mountains along the border with Cameroon.
Climate: Annual rainfall ranges from 381 cm. along the coast to 64 cm. or less in the far north.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Nigerian(s).
Population (2006 est.): 140 million.
Total fertility rate (avg. number of children per woman): 5.7.
Ethnic groups (250): Hausa-Fulani, Igbo, Yoruba, and Ijaw are the largest.
Religions: Muslim, Christian, indigenous African.
Languages: English (official), Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Ijaw, others.
Education: Attendance (secondary)--male 32%, female 27%. Literacy--39%-51%.
Health: Life expectancy (2004 est.)--43.7 years.
Type: Federal republic.
Independence: October 1, 1960.
The 1999 constitution (based largely on the 1979 constitution) was
promulgated by decree on May 5, 1999 and came into force on May 29,
Subdivisions: 36 states plus Federal Capital Territory (Abuja); states divided into a total of 774 local government areas.
Total government expenditure (2006 budget): $14 billion.
Defense: 4.5% of 2006 budget.
Nominal GDP (2007 est.): $175 billion (2006 data: agriculture 26.8%; industry 48.8%; services 24.4%).
Real GDP growth rate (2007 est.): 6.3%. Oil growth: -5.6%. Non-oil growth: 9.6%.
Per capita GDP (2007 est.): $1,158.
Inflation (2007): 5.4%.
Natural resources: Oil and natural gas (37% of 2006 GDP), tin, columbite, iron ore, coal, limestone, lead, zinc.
Agriculture: Products--cocoa, palm oil, yams, cassava, sorghum, millet, corn, rice, livestock, groundnuts, cotton.
Industry: Types--textiles, cement, food products, footwear, metal products, lumber, beer, detergents, car assembly.
Trade (2005): Exports--$59 billion: petroleum (95%); cocoa; rubber. Partners--United States (52.5%); Spain (8.2%); Brazil (6.1%). Imports--$25 billion: machinery; chemicals; transport equipment; manufactured goods; food; live animals. Partners-- China 10.4%; U.S. 7.3%; U.K. 6.7%; Netherlands 6.2%.
most populous country in Africa, Nigeria accounts for over half of West
Africa's population. 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 two-thirds of the country is the Hausa-Fulani,
most of whom are Muslim. Other major ethnic groups of the north are the
Nupe, Tiv, and Kanuri. The Yoruba people are predominant in the
About half of the Yorubas
are Christian and half Muslim. The predominantly Catholic Igbo are the
largest ethnic group in the southeast, with the Efik, Ibibio, and Ijaw
(the country's fourth-largest ethnic group) comprising 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, Igbo,
Fulani, and Ijaw are the most widely used Nigerian languages.
the northern cities of Kano and Katsina, recorded history dates back to
about 1000 AD. In the centuries that followed, these Hausa kingdoms and
the Bornu empire near Lake Chad prospered as important terminals of
north-south trade between North African Berbers and forest people who
exchanged slaves, ivory, and kola nuts for salt, glass beads, coral,
cloth, weapons, brass rods, and cowrie shells used as currency.
In the southwest, the
Yoruba kingdom of Oyo was founded about 1400, and at its height from
the 17th to 19th centuries attained a high level of political
organization and extended as far as modern Togo. In the south central
part of present-day Nigeria, as early as the 15th and 16th centuries,
the kingdom of Benin had developed an efficient army; an elaborate
ceremonial court; and artisans whose works in ivory, wood, bronze, and
brass are prized throughout the world today. In the 17th through 19th
centuries, European traders established coastal ports for the
increasing traffic in slaves destined for the Americas. Commodity
trade, especially in palm oil and timber, replaced slave trade in the
19th century, particularly under anti-slavery actions by the British
Navy. In the early 19th century the Fulani leader, Usman dan Fodio,
promulgated Islam and that brought most areas in the north under the
loose control of an empire centered in Sokoto.
A British Sphere of Influence
the Napoleonic wars, the British expanded trade with the Nigerian
interior. In 1885, British claims to a sphere of influence in that area
received international recognition and, in the following year, the
Royal Niger Company was chartered. In 1900, the company's territory
came under the control of the British Government, which moved to
consolidate its hold over the area of modern Nigeria. In 1914, the area
was formally united as the "Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria."
remained divided into the northern and southern provinces and Lagos
colony. Western education and the development of a modern economy
proceeded more rapidly in the south than in the north, with
consequences felt in Nigeria's political life ever since. Following
World War II, in response to the growth of Nigerian nationalism and
demands for independence, successive constitutions legislated by the
British Government moved Nigeria toward self-government on a
representative, increasingly federal, basis.
was granted full independence in October 1960, as a federation of three
regions (northern, western, and eastern) under a constitution that
provided for a parliamentary form of government. Under the
constitution, each of the three regions retained a substantial measure
of self-government. The federal government was given exclusive powers
in defense and security, foreign relations, and commercial and fiscal
policies. In October 1963, Nigeria altered its relationship with the
United Kingdom by proclaiming itself a federal republic and
promulgating a new constitution. A fourth region (the midwest) was
established that year. From the outset, Nigeria's ethnic, regional, and
religious tensions were magnified by the significant disparities in
economic and educational development between the south and the north.
On January 15, 1966, a
small group of army officers, mostly southeastern Igbos, overthrew the
government and assassinated the federal prime minister and the premiers
of the northern and western regions. The federal military government
that assumed power was unable to quiet ethnic tensions or produce a
constitution acceptable to all sections of the country. Its efforts to
abolish the federal structure greatly raised tensions and led to
another coup in July. The coup-related massacre of thousands of Igbo in
the north prompted hundreds of thousands of them to return to the
southeast, where increasingly strong Igbo secessionist sentiment
In a move that gave greater
autonomy to minority ethnic groups, the military divided the four
regions into 12 states. The Igbo rejected attempts at constitutional
revisions and insisted on full autonomy for the east. Finally, in May
1967, Lt. Col. Emeka Ojukwu, the military governor of the eastern
region, who emerged as the leader of increasing Igbo secessionist
sentiment, declared the independence of the eastern region as the
"Republic of Biafra." The ensuing civil war was bitter and bloody,
ending in the defeat of Biafra in 1970.
Following the civil war,
reconciliation was rapid and effective, and the country turned to the
task of economic development. Foreign exchange earnings and government
revenues increased spectacularly with the oil price rises of 1973-74.
On July 29, 1975, Gen. Murtala Muhammed and a group of fellow officers
staged a bloodless coup, accusing Gen. Yakubu Gowon's military
government of delaying the promised return to civilian rule and
becoming corrupt and ineffective. General Muhammed replaced thousands
of civil servants and announced a timetable for the resumption of
civilian rule by October 1, 1979. Muhammed also announced the
government's intention to create new states and to construct a new
federal capital in the center of the country.
General Muhammed was
assassinated on February 13, 1976, in an abortive coup. His chief of
staff, Lt. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, became head of state. Obasanjo
adhered meticulously to the schedule for return to civilian rule,
moving to modernize and streamline the armed forces and seeking to use
oil revenues to diversify and develop the country's economy. Seven new
states were created in 1976, bringing the total to 19. The process of
creating additional states continued until, in 1996, there were 36.