Nigeria
 
 

  Source:  US Department of State

[Country Map]

Flag of Nigeria is three equal vertical bands of green (hoist side), white, and green.

PROFILE

OFFICIAL NAME:
Federal Republic of Nigeria

Geography
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).
Terrain: 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.

People
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.

Government
Type: Federal republic.
Independence: October 1, 1960.
Constitution: The 1999 constitution (based largely on the 1979 constitution) was promulgated by decree on May 5, 1999 and came into force on May 29, 1999.
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.

Economy
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%.

PEOPLE
The 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 southwest.

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.

HISTORY
In 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
Following 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."

Administratively, 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.

Independence
Nigeria 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 emerged.

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.

 
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