Facts about Nigeria


Looking at a map of Nigeria, it makes the UK look very small and with 356, 667 square miles, it is over three times the size of Britain. Indeed Nigeria actually occupies 15% of West Africa and being home to 129.9 million people, has the largest population in Africa.


From the mountains that run along the Cameroon border to the beautiful tropical rainforests and central grasslands, the natural beauty and greenness of the country is especially evident during rainy season. In addition to palm trees, rivers and vegetation throughout the land, Nigeria also boasts a number of reserves and national parks which are home to chimps, hippos, elephants, gorillas and baboons as well as hundreds of species of bird.


The climate can be very hot and humid, although less so during the cooler Harmattan season when cool dry winds blow off the desert. The climate is varied and differs from area to area and temperatures are slightly lower in the tropical regions of the south.


The cities of Nigeria also provide much variety. Lagos is home to bumper-to-bumper traffic, major banks and companies alongside high levels of poverty as well as more live music than just about any other West African city. Approximately 520 miles north of Lagos lies the mud-walled city of Kano which, at nearly 1000 years old, is the oldest city in West Africa. Abuja is about 310 miles North East of Lagos and as Nigeria’s official capital, is rapidly growing and is very much a modern African city. These three cities and many more always offer a unique experience.


Nigeria’s culture is also diverse and colourful. Religion is an important part of Nigerian life and custom with 50% of the country consisting of Muslims, who dominate the north and 40% Christians, found in the south and 10% consisting of countless numbers of smaller sects with more traditional African beliefs. These beliefs involve strong connections to ancestral spirits, sacrificial rituals and juju ceremonies. Many art forms reflect these spiritual beliefs including the lively musical worship as well as traditional dancing with masks carved out of wood, representing the forces of nature. The fusion of traditional Yoruba call-and-response chanting with freestyle jazz, known as Afrobeat, comes from Nigeria’s world-renowned musician Fela Kuti. Nigeria also has many other famous musicians, artists and writers including the Nobel Prize-winning author Wole Soyinka.


A lot of Nigerian food is grain-based. A popular dish is Egusi (a hot stew made with meat and red peppers) as is Tuwo, made from maize, corn rice or millet, Efo (vegetable soup), and Isi-ewu (goat head pepper soup). As well as many beautiful fruits there’s also many snack foods including fried yam chips, meat pastries and fried plantain. Palm wine is a natural juice from palm trees and is a popular drink all over Nigeria, especially in the south where these beautiful trees grow wild.


Nigeria’s former military rulers failed to diversify the economy away from overdependence on the capital-intensive oil sector, which provided 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and about 65% of budgetary revenues. After much political instability, corruption, and poor management, economic reform is now beginning to take place under the new civilian administration and there are great opportunities for significant development.


Nigeria is the most populated country in Africa and is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups with the prominent three being the Hausa in the north, the Ibo (or Igbo) in the east and the Yoruba in the west. Although sadly, a reputation for corruption goes before Nigerians, it has to be said that it is difficult to find a people that are more warm and hospitable.