Nigeria: Your No. 1 Comprehensive Overview of its History

Nigeria: A Comprehensive Overview of its History

Nigeria, officially referred to as the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a major country in West Africa. It is bordered by Chad, Benin, Niger and Cameroon, in the northeast, west, north and east respectively. It opens up on its southern coast to the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean.

As a federal republic, it includes 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, where the Capital, Abuja, is located.

Lagos, is the largest city in Nigeria and the continent of Africa, it is also one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.

Nigeria, with a population of 211 million, is the largest country in Africa, encompassing an area of 923,769 square kilometers.

Nigeria occupies the 32nd position in the world by size and the 7th position by population.

Nigeria, boasts an ethnically diverse and multicultural populace, which is one of the world’s most colorful.

Nigeria is also Africa’s largest economy by GDP, beating Egypt and South Africa to second and third places respectively, and is the country with the 27th highest GDP in the world.

Nigeria has had several indigenous pre-colonial territories and kingdoms as far back as the second millennium BC, with the Nok civilization being the first internal unification in the country, in the 15th century BC.

The current state stems from British colonization in the 19th century. In 1914, Lord Lugard merged the Northern Nigeria Protectorate and the Southern Nigeria Protectorate, giving rise to its present territorial shape.

Legal and Administrative structures were set up by The British, while practicing indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms.

On October 1, 1960, Nigeria officially became an independent confederation. Civil war broke out between different sections of the country from 1967 to 1970, trailed by a train of military dictatorships and democratically elected civilian governments.

Since the 1999 presidential election, democracy has achieved a form of stability.

Inhabited by more than 250 ethnic groups, speaking 500 distinct languages, and all identifying with a wide variety of cultures, Nigeria is truly a multinational state.

The Yoruba who are in the west, Hausa–Fulani mostly in the north and the Igbo predominantly in the east, are the three largest ethnic groups, which combined, comprise more than 60% of the total populace.

English is chosen as the official language, to harmonize communication nationwide.

Nigeria is home to a large population of Christians and Muslims, with indigenous religions in the minority.

Due to its large economy and huge population, Nigeria is usually referred to as the “Giant of Africa”, and is regarded by the World Bank to be an emerging market.

Nigeria Postcode are a set of six numeric characters introduced in 1975 by the Nigeria Postal Service (NIPOST)

In Africa, Nigeria is regarded to be a regional power, and considered an emerging global power.

Nigeria is also a pioneer member of the African Union (AU) and a part of many international organizations, which includes, but not limited to, the United Nations, Economic Community of West African States, OPEC and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Nigeria is also a part of the informal MINT collection of countries, and one of the economies in the Next Eleven



On 8 January 1897, Flora Shaw, a British journalist, devised the name Nigeria, taken from the Niger River that runs through the country. She later got married to a British colonial administrator, known as Lord Lugard.



Between 1,500 BC and AD 200, the Nok civilization of Nigeria flourished, producing terracotta figures that were life-sized. These are some of the first identified sculptures in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Nok Figurine By Marie-Lan Nguyen – Own work, Public Domain,

Iron smelting has also been evident at sites excavated in Southeast Nigeria, specifically the Nsukka region: as far back as 2000 BC at the location of Lejja, and at the location of Opi in 750BC.


Highlights in The Kano Chronicle speak of an ancient history dating to around 999 AD about the Hausa Sahelian city-state of Kano, and other major Hausa cities (or Hausa Bakwai) of: Kano, Katsina, Rano, Hadeija, Gobir, Zazzau and Daura, all with historical recordings dating back to the 10th century.

Emir of Kano with Calvary By Morel, Edmund D., 1873-1924 – From Nigeria, its peoples and its problems – New York Public Library [1], Public Domain,

From 7th century AD, when Islam spread, the area came to be known as Sudan or as Bilad Al Sudan (English: Land of the Blacks).

As a result of the population’s partial affiliation with the Arab Muslim culture of North Africa, Trans-Saharan trade began soon after, and they came to be referred to by the Arab Muslims as Al-Sudan (meaning “The Blacks”) since they were believed an extended part of the Muslim world.

Muslim historians, medieval Arabs and geographers have historical references, which speak of the Kanem-Bornu Empire, as the region’s prominent focal point for Islamic civilization.

In the 10th century and until it lost its sovereignty to the British in 1911, The Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people, was a formidable power.

Igbo-Ukwu Pot By Ochiwar at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Nri was governed by the Eze Nri, with the city of Nri regarded as the foundation of Igbo culture. In the territory of the Umeuri clan, are Nri and Aguleri, where the myth of Igbo creation originated.

Tribe members draw their lineages back to the patriarchal king-figure Eri.

Some of the earliest bronze figures In West Africa, made utilizing the lost-wax process were from a city under Nri influence, Igbo-Ukwu.

In the 12th and 14th centuries, respectively, the kingdoms of Ife and Oyo, of the Yoruba in southwestern Nigeria, came into prominence.

Yoruba Copper Mask By WaynaQhapaq – English Wikipedia, Public Domain,

At Ife’s present-day location, the earliest signs of human community, date back to the 9th century, with material culture which consist of bronze and terracotta figures.


Portuguese voyagers were the earliest (In the 16th century) Europeans to begin substantial, direct trade with the people of southern Nigeria, at the port in Calabar along the region Slave Coast and the one they christened Lagos (formerly Eko).

These trading with the Europeans along the coast also indicated the initial stages of the Atlantic slave trade.

One of the major slave trading stations in West Africa, in this period was Calabar’s Port, situated on the historic Bight of Biafra (now referred to as Bight of Bonny)

Benin Ivory Mask By Edo people – This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the Image and Data Resources Open Access Policy, CC0,

Another key slave trading ports in Nigeria was situated in Badagry, Lagos. The bulk of those subjugated and taken to these ports were seized in invasions and wars.

King Duke of Calabar By Mary Henrietta Kingsley – Travels in West Africa, Congo Français, Corisco and Cameroons, Public Domain,

Nonstop combat amongst the Hausa city-states and the weakening of the Bornu Empire, in the North, gave the Fulani headway into the region.

Usman dan Fodio, led a successful jihad, at the start of the 19th century, against the Hausa Kingdoms, which gave rise to the centralized Sokoto Caliphate.

Prior to this, the Fulani were a nomadic tribe, with cattle, mainly traversing the semi-desert Sahelian region, north of Sudan, and shunned trading and mingling with the Sudanic people.

With Arabic as its authorized language, the empire developed swiftly under his leadership and that of his offspring, who led attacking armies in every single direction.

The area ruled by the kingdom comprised much of modern-day northern and central Nigeria.

Condensed in the domains of the Sokoto Caliphate, by the 1890s, and numbering about two million, was the largest slave population in the world.

The Sokoto Caliphate was one of the biggest pre-colonial African states, by 1903, when it was broken up in into various European colonies.


The outlawing of transatlantic slave trade by Britain in 1807 and a longing for social and political stability steered most European powers to back the widespread farming of agricultural products, such as the palm, for usage in European industries.


In 1851,when there was a kingship power struggle in Lagos, the British interposed by bombarding Lagos, and ousting Oba Kosoko, who was slave-trade-friendly, and helped to instate Oba Akitoye, who signed the Treaty between Lagos and Great Britain on 1 January 1852.

Britain appropriated Lagos as a crown outpost in August 1861 with the Lagos Treaty of Cession. British missionaries then extended their operations and journeyed further upcountry.


Recognition from European Nations in 1885 at the Berlin Conference, gave authority to Britain’s claims to a ”Sphere of Influence” in West Africa.

In 1986, under the headship of Sir George Taubman Goldie, the Royal Niger Company was chartered.  

The company had massively succeeded in overpowering the independent southern kingdoms, along the Niger River, by the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Victory followed over Benin in 1897, and from 1901–1902, when the Anglo-Aro war was fought, other opponents were defeated. The victory over these states opened up the whole Niger area to the rule of Britain.

The Royal Niger Company’s territory came under the complete control of the British government in 1900, and instituted the Southern Nigeria Protectorate as a British protectorate and portion of the British Empire, the leading world power at the time.


The British began plans to move north into the Sokoto Caliphate by 1902. Lord Frederick Lugard, a British General, was mandated to implement the agenda by the Colonial Office.

The British soldiers quickly won, and they sent Attahiru I and thousands of his followers on a Mahdist hijra.

The decline of the Bornu Empire in the northeast, gave rise to the British-controlled Borno Emirate, and Abubakar Garbai of Borno was established as ruler.

The British victory in 1903, in the Battle of Kano, gave them a territorial edge in placating the center of the Sokoto Caliphate and segments of the former Bornu Empire.

At the Sokoto grand market square on March 13, 1903, the last vizier of the caliphate officially conceded to British rule.

Muhammadu Attahiru II was appointed by the British as the new caliph. The caliphate was abolished by Lugard but he retained the sultan title as a symbolic position in the newly organized Northern Nigeria Protectorate.

This remnant became known as “Sokoto Sultanate Council”.

After defeating Attahiru I and his remaining forces in June 1903, and killing him; all resistance to British rule effectively ended by 1906.


Lord Lugard By Elliott & Fry –, Public Domain,

The British officially integrated the Northern Nigeria Protectorate and the Southern Nigeria Protectorate into the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, on January 1, 1914.

Nigeria stayed separated administratively, into the Southern and Northern Protectorates and Lagos Colony.

In response to the demands for independence and growth of Nigerian nationalism, following World War II, consecutive constitutions constituted by the British government, moved Nigeria toward self-governance on a representative and progressively federal basis.


October 1, 1960, Nigeria obtained independence from the United Kingdom, as the Federation of Nigeria with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as its prime minister, however retaining the British monarch, Elizabeth II, as nominal head of state and Queen of Nigeria.

Postage Stamp By The original uploader was Stan Shebs at English Wikipedia. – Scanned by en:User:Stan Shebs; Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain,

The Founding Government of an Independent Nigeria, was an alliance of conservative parties: the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, and the Northern People’s Congress led by Sir Ahmadu Bello.

The opposition consisted of the liberal Action Group, led by Obafemi Awolowo. At independence, the cultural and political differences were sharp among Nigeria’s dominant ethnic groups: the Hausa–Fulani in the north, Igbo in the east and Yoruba in the west.

The 1961 plebiscite created an imbalance in the polity. Northern Cameroonians chose to join Nigeria, while Southern Cameroonians (given a new name by separatists as Ambazonia) decided to join the Republic of Cameroon. Subsequently, the northern region of the country became bigger than the southern region.

A federal republic was established in the nation, in 1963, with Nnamdi Azikiwe as its first president.

The Nigerian National Democratic Party came to power in Nigeria’s Western Region, when elections were conducted in 1965.



Two military coups were carried out in 1966. The first was in January 1966, which was led by Majors Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and Emmanuel Ifeajuna.

Map of Biafra By Eric Gaba (Sting – fr:Sting) – Own workBackground map: NGDC GSHHS and WDBII dataBiafra independent state borders reference maps: UN, Matthew White, Otvaga2004, Travel-Image (originally a CIA map ?), Biafraland and MSN Encarta, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The coup plotters executed Sir Ahmadu Bello and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa alongside prominent leaders, and also Samuel Akintola, Premier of the Western Region, but the coup plotters labored to form a central government.

Then Nwafor Orizu, the Senate President, handed over control of the government to the Army, under the command of General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi.

The second coup (the counter-coup of 1966), enabled the rise of Yakubu Gowon to military head of state.

Tensions mounted between south and north; Igbos in northern towns underwent maltreatment and many escaped to their Region in the East.

In May 1967, Governor of the Eastern Region Lt. Colonel Emeka Ojukwu declared the region independent from the federation as a state called the Republic of Biafra, under his leadership.

This pronouncement triggered the Nigerian Civil War, which began on July 6, 1967, as the official Nigerian government side attacked Biafra, at Garkem.

In January 1970, the 30-month war ended.

Generals Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Joseph Garba, carried out a coup in July 1975, which ousted Gowon, who escaped to Britain.

They replaced Gowon with a triumvirate of three brigadier generals whose resolutions could be vetoed by a Supreme Military Council.

General Murtala Muhammed become military head of state, General Olusegun Obasanjo his second-in-command, and General Theophilus Danjuma as the third-in-command.

In February 1976, Colonel Buka Suka Dimka instigated a coup attempt, in the course of which General Murtala Muhammed was assassinated.

Dimka was short of extensive support among the military, and his coup failed, forcing him to bolt.

General Olusegun Obasanjo was chosen as military head of state, shortly after the coup attempt.

As head of state, Obasanjo chose General Shehu Yar’Adua as his replacement (second-in-command), with Obasanjo as head of state and General Theophilus Danjuma as Chief of Army Staff.

They re-established control over the military and organized the military’s transfer of power programme: national delimitation, states creation, constitutional drafting committee for a new republic and local government reforms.


In 1977, a constituent assembly was voted to draft a new constitution, which was published on September 21, 1978, when the ban on political activity was lifted.

President Shagari of Nigeria is greeted by BGEN Archer Durham upon his arrival for a visit.

In 1979, five political parties contested in elections in which the candidate of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Alhaji Shehu Shagari was elected president.

On October 1, 1979, Shehu Shagari was sworn in as the first President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Obasanjo subsequently became the first Head of State in the history of Nigeria to freely step down.

The NPN and Shagari were returned to power in a landslide victory in August 1983, with a majority of seats in the National Assembly and control of 12 state governments.


The 1983 military coup d’état, which took place on New Year’s Eve, led to the fixing of Major General Muhammadu Buhari as head of state.

The 1985 military coup d’état, which led to the overthrow of General Buhari, was led by General Ibrahim Babangida

He instituted the Armed Forces Ruling Council and became military president and commander in chief of the armed forces.

He inaugurated the Nigerian Political Bureau in 1986, which made proposals for the transition to the Third Nigerian Republic.

Babangida put plans in motion for transition to the Third Nigerian Republic in 1989. He then survived the 1990 Nigerian coup d’état attempt, and subsequently postponed the promised return democracy up until 1992.

He formed the two-party system, after legalizing party creation, with the National Republican Convention and Social Democratic Party, being the parties.

The 1993 presidential election held on June 12, was the first since the military coup of 1983. The results, though not officially declared by the National Electoral Commission, showed the duo of Moshood Abiola and Babagana Kingibe of the Social Democratic Party defeated Bashir Tofa and Slyvester Ugoh of the National Republican Convention by over 2.3 million votes.

The elections were annulled by Babangida, which lead to massive civilian protests that effectually shut down the country for days on end.

Babangida finally kept his promise to hand over power to a civilian government, in August 1993, but not before assigning Ernest Shonekan as head of the interim national government.

Shonekan’s interim government, the briefest in the political history of Nigeria, was overthrown in the coup d’état of 1993, led by General Sani Abacha.

Published on the AfricanSuccess website (, Fair use,

His regime ended abruptly in 1998, when he died in the Aso Rock Villa.

General Abdulsalami Abubakar, his successor, implemented a new constitution on May 5, 1999, which stipulated for multiparty elections.


Abubakar handed over power, on May 29 1999, to former military ruler, General Olusegun Obasanjo, the winner of the 1999 presidential election, as the second democratically elected civilian President of Nigeria, signaling the beginning of the Fourth Nigerian Republic.

President Matthew Olusegun Aremu Obasanjo (center, right), Federal Republic of Nigeria, participates in a Full Honor Arrival Ceremony hosted by the Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld (not pictured), U.S. Secretary of Defense, at the River Entrance of the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., May 10, 2001. OSD Package No. 010510-D-2987S-003-062 (Photo by Helene C. Stikkel) (Released)

This terminated almost 33 years of military rule, beginning 1966 up until 1999, excluding the brief second republic (1979-1983), by military dictators who seized power in coups d’état and counter-coups.

In 2003, Obasanjo was re-elected into power for a second term in the Presidential elections.

People’s Democratic Party’s(PDP) Umaru Yar’Adua was elected into power in the 2007 general elections.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet His Excellency Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in the Blue Room during a U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit dinner at the White House, Aug. 5, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Following the death of President Yar’Adua on May 5, 2010, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was sworn in as his successor, making him the 14th head of state.

President Goodluck Jonathan went on to win the 2011 presidential election.

By Bayo Omoboriowo – This image was made available by Official Photographer of President Muhammadu Buhari, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Former military head of state, General Muhammadu Buhari of the Action Peoples Congress – who had previously contested in the 2003, 2007, and 2011 presidential elections—defeated the incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party, in the 2015 presidential election.

This made it the first time in Nigerian history, where an incumbent president lost to an opposition candidate.

Buhari was re-elected for a second term in office, in the 2019 presidential election, defeating his closet rival Atiku Abubakar, of the PDP.


By Kabusa16 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Nigeria is a federal republic, patterned after the United States, with executive power exercised by the President.

The president is simultaneously head of state and head of the federal government; the president is elected by popular vote to a maximum of 2 four-year terms.

A Senate and a House of Representatives, checks the president’s power and they are both combined to form a bicameral body, called the National Assembly.

The Senate is a 109-seat body comprising three members from each state, and one from the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja; the members are elected by popular vote to four-year terms.

The House of Representatives contains 360 seats, with the number of seats per state determined by population.

Flag:            Bi-color

Emblem:       Coat of arms of Nigeria

Anthem:        “Arise, O Compatriots”

Animal:         Eagle

Bird:              Black crowned crane

Flower:         Costus spectabilis


The country has a judicial branch, the highest court is the Supreme Court of Nigeria.

There are three distinct systems of law in Nigeria:

●     Common law, derived from its British colonial past, and a development of its own after independence;

●     Customary law, derived from indigenous traditional norms and practice, including the dispute resolution meetings of pre-colonial Yorubaland secret societies such as the Oyo Mesi and Ogboni, as well as the Ekpe and Okonko of Igboland and Ibibioland;

●     Sharia law, used only in the predominantly Muslim northern states of the country. It is an Islamic legal system that had been used long before the colonial administration.


The Nigerian military is saddled with protecting the Federal Republic of Nigeria, promoting Nigeria’s global security interests, and supporting peacekeeping efforts, especially in West Africa.

By Vitaly V. Kuzmin –, CC BY-SA 4.0,

The Nigerian Military comprises of a navy, an army and an air force.

The military in Nigeria has played a major role in the country’s history since independence.

By Kenneth Iwelumo –—Air/Mi-24V-35P/2108832/L/, GFDL 1.2,

As Africa’s most populated country, Nigeria has repositioned its military as a peacekeeping force on the continent. Since 1995, the Nigerian military, through ECOMOG mandates, have been deployed as peacekeepers in Liberia (1997), Ivory Coast (1997–1999), and Sierra Leone (1997–1999).


Divided into thirty-six states and one Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria is further sub-divided into 774 local government areas.

By United Nations Cartographic Section –, Public Domain,

Politically, the states are grouped into six geopolitical zones: South-South, South-East, South-West, North-East, North-West, and North-Central.

With five cities boasting a population of more than a million, Kano, Lagos, Benin City, Ibadan, and Port Harcourt are some of the largest cities in Nigeria.

Towering above the rest is Lagos, which lays claim to the title of largest city in Africa, boasting of a population of over 12 million.


Situated on the Gulf of Guinea in Western Africa, Nigeria has a total area of 923,768 km2 (356,669 sq. mi), making it the world’s 32nd-largest country.

By GodwinPaya – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Its large borders extend 4,047 kilometres (2,515 mi), and it shares borders with Niger (1,497 km or 930 mi), Benin (773 km or 480 mi), Cameroon (including the separatist Ambazonia) (1,690 km or 1,050 mi) and Chad (87 km or 54 mi).

By Nnamdi Okechukwu – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

With a coastline measuring at least 853 km (530 mi).[113] Nigeria lies between latitudes 4° and 14°N, and longitudes 2° and 15°E.

Chappal Waddi at 2,419 m (7,936 ft) is the highest point in Nigeria. River Niger and River Benue are the main rivers, and they both come together and flow into the Niger Delta.

This is one of the world’s largest river deltas, and the location of a large area of Central African mangroves.

The valleys of the Benue and Niger River (which join and form a Y-shape), are the most expansive topographical region in Nigeria.

There are “rocky” highlands southwest of the Niger. Mountains and Hills to the southeast of the Benue, which form the Mambilla Plateau, Nigeria’s highest plateau.

The plateau stretches through the border shared with Cameroon, where the montane land is part of Cameroon’s Bamenda Highlands.


The varied landscape gives Nigeria a certain uniqueness. Defined by its tropical rainforest climate, where annual rainfall is up to 60 to 80 inches (1,500 to 2,000 mm) per year is the far south.

The Obudu Plateau stands in the southeast. Coastal plains are located in both the southeast and southwest.

By Nnamdi Okechukwu – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Along the coast lie numerous Mangrove swamps.

The region adjoining the border with Cameroon near the coast is rich rainforest and a portion of the Cross-Sanaga-Bioko coastal forests ecoregion, an essential center for biodiversity.

This place is home to the drill primate, and come across in the wild exclusively in this area and across the border in Cameroon.

This forest, comprising the areas surrounding Calabar, Cross River State, is believed to harbor the largest diversity of butterflies in the world.

Harvesting and Development has brought about deforestation in the area of southern Nigeria, between Cross River and the Niger, as a result of increase in population, and it has been replaced with grassland.

Everything in between the far south and the far north is savannah (insignificant tree cover, with grasses and flowers located between trees). Rainfall is more limited to between 500 and 1,500 millimeters (20 and 60 in) per year.


Nigeria’s economy is the biggest in Africa, and the 26th-largest in the world by GDP. It is a lower-middle-income economy, with its plentiful supply of natural resources, developed sectors covering financial, communications, legal, and transport, and Nigerian Stock Exchange.

By Chukwuka Tolulope Obu – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Besides the oil sector, remittances, which are forwarded home by Nigerians living abroad, are the second-largest source of foreign exchange earnings for Nigeria.

By Bryn Pinzgauer – Abuja, CC BY 2.0,


Approximately 30% of Nigerians are active in agriculture, as of 2010.

The primary foreign exchange earner for Nigeria used to be Agriculture.

Cocoa and Rubber are the first and second non-oil foreign exchange earners, respectively.

Main crops include cassava, palm kernels, beans, cashew nuts, sesame, kolanut, groundnuts, gum arabic, maize (corn), melon, plantains, cocoa, beans, millet, palm oil, sorghum, rice, soybeans, rubber and yams.


Nigeria is the 12th biggest maker of petroleum in the world, has the 10th biggest proven reserves and is the 8th biggest exporter.

By —=XEON=— –, CC BY 3.0,

Responsible for more than 40% of GDP and about 80% of government earnings, the Nigerian economy is dependent on Petroleum.

Discovered in 1973, the Niger Delta Nembe Creek oil field produces from middle Miocene deltaic sandstone-shale in an anticline structural trap at a depth of 2 to 4 kilometres (7,000 to 13,000 feet).

According to the Department of Petroleum Resources, a total of 1,481 wells and 159 oil fields are in operation in Nigeria

The coastal Niger Delta Basin in the Niger Delta or “south-south” region, is the most productive region of Nigeria, which covers 78 of the 159 oil fields.

By GodwinPaya – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Most of Nigeria’s oil fields are small and scattered, and as of 1990, these minor fields accounted for 62.1% of all Nigerian production. This is in stark contrast with the sixteen biggest fields, which produced 37.9% of the country’s petroleum at the time.

Nigeria also has a huge assortment of underexploited mineral resources, in addition to its petroleum resources, which include coal, natural gas, gold, bauxite, tin tantalite, iron ore, niobium, lead, limestone and zinc.

By Rob Lavinsky, – CC-BY-SA-3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The mining industry in Nigeria is still in its early stages, in spite of huge reserves of these natural resources.


With a competitive mix of international and local banks, brokerage houses, asset management companies, insurance companies and brokers, investment banks and private equity funds, the financial services sector in Nigeria is very much established.

Major market operators (like MTN, 9mobile, Airtel and Globacom) established their biggest and most profitable centers in the country, because Nigeria boasts of one of the fastest-growing telecommunications markets in the globe.

The ICT sector has experienced tremendous growth over the years, rising to account for more than 10% of the nation’s GDP as at 2018, as compared to a mere 1% back in 2001.

Owing to a vibrant tech ecosystem, Lagos is regarded as a leading technology hub in Africa.

A number of startups like Flutterwave, Paystack, Paga Interswitch, Carbon, Bolt, Remita, and Piggyvest are using technology to solve issues across various industries.

Due to Nigeria’s plentiful number of ethnic groups, Tourism in the country is based largely on events, it is also dependent on the abundance of waterfalls, savannahs, rain forests and other natural attractions.

By DonCamillo – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Abuja plays host to the largest park, Millennium Park, which was designed by architect Manfredi Nicoletti and formally opened in December 2003. It is also home to several green areas and parks.

Lagos as a major tourist destination plays host to The Eyo carnival (an annual festival).

And despite its business-oriented and a fast-paced nature. Lagos is fast becoming a central location for African and black cultural identity.

A very wide range of events are held in Lagos, which helps to cement its status as a tourism hub.

Some of the festivals are Lagos Black Heritage Carnival, Festac Food Fair held in Festac Town Annually, Lagos Carnival, Eyo Festival, Eko International Film Festival, LAGOS PHOTO Festival, Lagos Seafood Festac Festival, and the Lagos Jazz Series.

With numerous beautiful sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, including Lekki Beach Alpha Beach and Elegushi Beach, Lagos is a tourists dream. It also boasts of many a private beach resorts including La Campagne Tropicana, Inagbe Grand Beach Resort and a couple of others on the outskirts.

By PelumiK – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Lagos has an assortment of hotels that vary between three-star to five-star hotels, with a blend of local hotels such as Federal Palace Hotel, Eko Hotels and Suites, and franchises of international chains such as Sheraton Intercontinental Hotel, and Four Points by Hilton.

Additional places of importance include the Festac town, Tafawa Balewa Square, Freedom Park and The Nike Art Gallery.


Leather and textiles manufacturing industries abound in Nigeria in different locations like Abeokuta, Kano, Lagos and Onitsha.

By Ilya Volkov – Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain,

Operating in Nigeria, is a homegrown auto manufacturing company, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing, based in Nnewi.

Nigeria announced a program regarding import duty on vehicles in 2013, to boost local manufacturing companies.

Ogun State is judged to be Nigeria’s largest industrial hub, as many factories are situated in the state, with a host of others thronging in.

Zinox, an electronic manufacturer, and the first brand-named Nigerian computer, are producers of electronic devices such as tablet PCs.

Situated in the southeastern part of Nigeria, the city of Aba is widely acknowledged for shoes and handicrafts, popularly referred to as “Aba made”.



Principal energy consumption in Nigeria was about 108 Mtoe in 2011.

Majority of the energy is sourced from traditional waste and biomass, which account for 83% of overall primary production.

The remainder is from hydropower (1%) and fossil fuels (16%). Since 1960, Nigeria has sought to grow a local nuclear industry for energy.

According to the National Program for the Deployment of Nuclear Power for Generation of Electricity, since 2004, the country acquired a Chinese-origin research reactor stationed at Ahmadu Bello University and has pursued the backing of the International Atomic Energy Agency to advance plans for up to 4,000 MWe of nuclear capacity by 2027.


The main means of transportation are roads, with a road network of 194,394 kilometres as of 1999, of which 60,068 kilometres (37,325 mi) (including 1,194 km (742 mi) of expressways) are paved roads and 134,326 kilometres are unpaved roads of city, town and village roads.

The Lagos-Kano Standard Gauge Railway has undergone a huge overhauling, connecting various cities such as Abuja, Kano, Ibadan, Kaduna and Lagos.

The main airports in Nigeria are the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, which are part of a network of 54 Airports.

Port Harcourt International Airport in Port Harcourt, Akanu Ibiam International Airport in Enugu, and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport in Kano are the other three international airports.


Year       Million

1971      55

1980      71

1990      95

2000      125

2004      138

2008      151

2012      167

2016      186

2017      191

Estimates from The United Nations put the population of Nigeria at 195,874,685 as at 2018.

By Marcel Krüger – english version of map from german wikipedia [1], CC BY-SA 3.0,

And having a population density of 167.5 people per square kilometer, with a distribution of 51.7% rural and 48.3% urban.

Around 42.5% of the population were 14 years or younger, 19.6% were aged 15–24, 30.7% were aged 25–54, 4.0% aged 55–64, and 3.1% aged 65 years or older. The median age in 2017 was 18.4 years.

Nigeria is the seventh most populated country in the world.

Based on official records, the birth rate is 35.2-births/1,000 population and the death rate is 9.6 deaths/1,000 population as of 2017, while the overall fertility rate is 5.07 children born/woman.

There was a marked increase in population of 60%(57 million) in less than two decades, from 1990 to 2008.

Nigeria, boasting the most populated country in Africa, accounts for about 17% of Africa’s overall population as of 2017.

Recently released census figures in December 2006 provided a population of 140,003,542, with a breakdown by gender: 71,709,859 males, 68,293,008 females.

Nigeria has been experiencing an explosive population growth, and is one of the countries with the highest growth and fertility rates in the world, according to the United Nations.

Based on the UN’s projections, the country is one of eight countries projected to account jointly for half of the world’s total population increase in 2005–2050.


With over 250 ethnic groups, and having varying languages and customs, Nigeria is a country rich in ethnic diversity.

Yoruba drummers
A Hausa lute player
Igbo Chief

The largest ethnic groups are the Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo, which cumulatively account for over 70% of the population, while the Ijaw, Urhobo-Isoko, Edo, Ibibio, Fulɓe, Kanuri, Nupe, Ebira, Jukun, Tiv, Nupe, Igala, Gbagyi, and Idoma account for roughly 25 and 30%; the remaining 5% is made up by other minorities.

The Middle Belt is recognized for its ethnic group’s diversity, which comprises of the Berom, Kofyar, Atyap, Goemai, and Pyem.

There are tiny minorities of Lebanese, American, British, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Japanese and Syrian immigrants.

There are also immigrants from other East African and West African countries. They mostly live in big cities such as Abuja and Lagos, or in areas of the Niger Delta, working as employees of the major oil companies.


In Nigeria, more than 500 languages are spoken. Ethnic groups speak more than one language in some regions.

By Hel-hama – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

English is Nigeria’s official language, it was selected to aid the cultural and linguistic unity of the country, due to the effect of British colonization which ended in 1960.

The major languages spoken in Nigeria represent three major families of languages of Africa: the majority are Niger-Congo languages, such as Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Fulfulde, Ogoni, and Edo.

Kanuri, spoken in the northeast, primarily in Borno and Yobe State, is part of the Nilo-Saharan family, and Hausa is an Afroasiatic language.

Majority of the ethnic groups prefer to converse in their own languages, but English is still the official language and is extensively used for business transactions, education, and for official purposes.

The most widely spoken of the three main languages is Hausa.

Nigeria’s major populace still lives in rural areas, so the major languages of interaction in the country remain local languages.

The largest of these, mainly the Yoruba and Igbo, have developed standardized languages drawn from various dialects, and which the ethnic groups commonly speak.

Nigerian Pidgin English, often known simply as “Pidgin” or “Broken” (Broken English), is also a popular lingua franca, though with varying regional influences on dialect and slang.

In the Niger Delta Region, Nigerian English or Pidgin English as it is popularly known is widely spoken.


Nigeria is a society with religiously diverse, Christianity and Islam being the most extensively practiced religions.

By Moises.on –, CC BY 2.0,

Nigerians are nearly evenly distributed into Muslims and Christians, with a small minority of devotees of traditional African religions and other religions.

By Shiraz Chakera – Abuja’s central mosque, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Religious syncretism with the traditional African religions is common, just like other parts of the African Continent where both religions are dominant

A 2012 report on religion and public life by the Pew Research Center stated that in 2010, 49.3 percent of Nigeria’s population was Christian, 48.8 percent was Muslim, and 1.9 percent were followers of indigenous and other religions, or unaffiliated.

However, in a report released by Pew Research Center in 2015, the Muslim population was estimated to be 50%, and by 2060, according to the report, Muslims will account for about 60% of the country.

The 2010 census of Association of Religion Data Archives has also reported that 48.8% of the total population was Christian, slightly larger than the Muslim population of 43.4%, while 7.5% were members of other religions.

However, these estimates should be taken with caution because sample data is mostly collected from major urban areas in the south, which are predominantly Christian.

Islam dominates North Western Nigeria (Hausa, Fulani and others), with 99% Muslim, and a good portion of Northern Eastern Nigeria (Kanuri, Fulani and other groups) Nigeria.

In the west, the Yoruba tribe is predominantly split between Muslims and Christians with 10% adherents of traditional religions.

Protestant and locally cultivated Christianity are widely practiced in Western areas, while Roman Catholicism is a more prominent Christian feature of South Eastern Nigeria.

Both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism are observed in the Ibibio, Anaang, Efik, Ijo and Ogoni lands of the south.

The Igbos (predominant in the east) and the Ijaw (south) are 98% Christian, with 2% practicing traditional religions.

The middle belt of Nigeria contains the largest number of minority ethnic groups in Nigeria, who were found to be mostly Christians and members of traditional religions, with a small proportion of Muslims.

Nigeria has the largest Muslim population in sub-Saharan Africa. The vast majority of Muslims in Nigeria are Sunni belonging to Maliki school of jurisprudence; however, a sizeable minority also belongs to Shafi Madhhab.

A large number of Sunni Muslims are members of Sufi brotherhoods. Most Sufis follow the Qadiriyya, Tijaniyyah and/or the Mouride movements. A significant Shia minority exists.

Some northern states have incorporated Sharia law into their previously secular legal systems.

Kano State has sought to incorporate Sharia law into its constitution. The majority of Quranists follow the Kalo Kato or Quraniyyun movement. There are also Ahmadiyya and Mahdiyya minorities, as well as followers of the Baha’i Faith.

Among Christians, the Pew Research survey found that 74% were Protestant, 25% were Catholic, and 1% belonged to other Christian denominations, including a small Orthodox Christian community.

Leading Protestant churches in the country include the Church of Nigeria of the Anglican Communion, the Assemblies of God Church, the Nigerian Baptist Convention and The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations.

Since the 1990s, there has been significant growth in many other churches, independently started in Africa by Africans, particularly the evangelical Protestant ones.

These include the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Winners’ Chapel, Christ Apostolic Church (the first Aladura Movement in Nigeria), Living Faith Church Worldwide, Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Evangelical Church of West Africa, Mountain of Fire and Miracles, Christ Embassy, Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Revival Movement, Celestial Church of Christ, and Dominion City.

In addition, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Aladura Church, the Seventh-day Adventist and various indigenous churches have also experienced growth.

The Yoruba area contains a large Anglican population, while Igboland is a mix of Roman Catholics, Protestants, and a small population of Igbo Jews.

The Edo area is composed predominantly of members of the Assemblies of God, which was introduced into Nigeria by Augustus Ehurie Wogu and his associates at Old Umuahia.

Nigeria has become an African hub for the Grail Movement and the Hare Krishnas, and the largest temple of the Eckankar religion is in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, with a total capacity of 10,000.


In Nigeria, Health care provision is a synchronized responsibility of the three levels of government, with some parts played by the private sector.

By SudhirSRathore – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

From the time of the Bamako Initiative of 1987, Nigeria has been restructuring its health system, the initiative officially promoted community-based methods of improving accessibility of health care services and drugs to the citizens, partly by putting into effect user fees.

The approach significantly increased availability through community-based health care reform, bringing about more efficient and impartial delivery of services.

An all-inclusive approach policy was extended to all areas of health care, with consequent advancement in the health care indicators and progress in health care effectiveness and cost.

As of 2019, the infant mortality is 74.2 deaths per 1,000 live births.

By Aderogba Arimoro – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Nigeria was the number one country to successfully confine and eradicate the Ebola threat that was devastating three other countries in the West African sub region, during the Ebola outbreak of 2014; the distinctive method of contact tracing engaged by Nigeria became an operational method later used by countries such as the United States, when Ebola threats were detected.


The Ministry of Education oversees education in Nigeria.

Local authorities are saddled with the duty of effecting policy for state-controlled public education and state schools at a provincial level.

By Contimm at English Wikipedia – Self-photographedTransferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain,

Tertiary education got a huge boost during the oil boom of the 1970s, reaching every sub region of Nigeria.

The country offers free, government-sustained education, but attendance is obligatory at any stage.

Tertiary education in Nigeria comprises of universities (public and private), polytechnics, monotechnics, and colleges of education.

Widely held control of university education is in the hands of the government.


According to the National Bureau of Statistics in 2020, Nigeria has about 136,203,231 million internet users out of an estimated population of 205,886,311.[261] This implies that as of 2020, 66 percent of the Nigerian population are connected to the internet and using it actively.



Nigerian citizens have produced many prominent works of post-colonial literature in the English language. Nigeria’s most celebrated writers are Wole Soyinka, the pioneer African Nobel Laureate in Literature, and Chinua Achebe, best recognized for the book Things Fall Apart (1958) and his provocative evaluation of Joseph Conrad.

By Scartol – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Additional Nigerian writers and poets who are well celebrated globally include Cyprian Ekwensi, John Pepper Clark, Buchi Emecheta, Ben Okri, T. M. Aluko, Helon Habila, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Isaac Delano, Femi Osofisan, Daniel O. Fagunwa, and Ken Saro-Wiwa.

Favorably commended writers of the younger generation comprise Chika Unigwe, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, Sefi Atta, Chris Abani, Helen Oyeyemi, Kachi A. Ozumba, Nnedi Okorafor and Sarah Ladipo Manyika.


Several genres of African music, including Afrobeats, West African highlife, amapiano (which fuses native rhythms with techniques that have been linked to the Brazil, Congo, Jamaica and Cuba) and palm-wine music, owe a lot in their development to Nigeria.

Wizkid, Ayo By TCD PHOTOGRAPHY/The TCD Concept Ltd –, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Numerous late 20th-century musicians like Fela Kuti have notably merged cultural components of various homegrown music with American soul and jazz, to create Afro beat, which subsequently influenced hip hop music.

Juju music from Nigeria, which is percussion music merged with traditional music from the Yoruba tribe was made renowned by King Sunny Adé.

Fuji music, which is a Yoruba percussion style, was conceived and made popular by “Mr. Fuji”, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister.

Afan Music was created and made popular by the Ewu-born poet and musician Umuobuarie Igberaese.

There is a growing hip-hop movement in Nigeria, with Music Labels like Mavin Records, Kennis Music and many more growing exponentially.

Nigeria’s music industry, and that of Africa, in November 2008, obtained international interest when MTV held the continent’s first African music awards show in the city of Abuja.

Furthermore, the first music video played on MTV Base Africa was Tuface Idibia’s pan-African hit “African Queen”.

By Slashme – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Other prominent musicians from Nigeria include: Sade Adu, Ebenezer Obey, Adewale Ayuba, Onyeka Onwenu, Lagbaja, Dele Sosimi, Dr. Alban, Ezebuiro Obinna, Bola Abimbola, Aṣa, Wale, Wizkid, Nneka, Davido, P Square, Skepta, D’Banj and Burna Boy.

Nollywood, a word coined from the fusion of Nigeria and Hollywood, as the Nigerian film industry is popularly known, is now the 2nd-largest producer of movies in the world, after India’s Bollywood.

Film studios located in Lagos, Kano and Enugu, are a main portion of the local economy of these cities.

The Nigerian cinema scene is Africa’s largest movie industry, both in terms of value and the figure of movies produced yearly.

By the close of 2013, the movie industry, according to reports smashed a record-breaking return of ₦1.72 trillion (US$11 billion).

It is widely regarded as the third most valuable film industry in the world, behind the United States and India.

Contributing roughly 1.4% to the Nigerian economy; largely credited to the rise in the number of quality films produced and more formal supply methods.

The Figurine, a 2009 thriller film, amplified media interest in the Nigerian Cinema revolution. Both a critical and commercial success in Nigeria and beyond, the film was also shown in international film festivals.

Ijé, a 2010 film, by Chineze Anyaene, surpassed The Figurine to become the highest grossing Nigerian film; a position it held for four years, until it was outdone by Half of a Yellow Sun in 2014.

The record was again beaten in 2016 by Wedding Party, a film by Kemi Adetiba.


Nigerian cooking, similar to most West African cuisine, is well-known for its variety and richness. A large variety of spices, flavorings and herbs, are used in combination with groundnut oil or palm oil to create deeply flavored soups and sauces, often tasting very spicy with chili peppers.

Meals in Nigeria are lavish and colourful, while sweet-smelling market and roadside finger foods, barbecued or fried in oils are abundant and diverse.


Football is generally deemed the national sport of Nigeria, with the country running its own Premier League.

By Кирилл Венедиктов –, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The “Super Eagles”, as the nation’s senior football team is popularly called, has competed at the World Cup six different times (1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, 2014, and 2018), with the nations widely celebrated striker, Rashidi Yekini scoring the nation’s first ever world cup goal.

The Super Eagles ranked 5th in the FIFA World Rankings, in April of 1994, the highest ranking achieved by any football team on the African continent.

They emerged victorious in the African Cup of Nations on three occasions in 1980, 1994, and 2013, and the country has hosted the U-17 & U-20 World Cups.

They secured the gold medal in the football category in the 1996 Summer Olympics (where they beat Brazil and Argentina) becoming the first African team to win gold in Olympic football.

Nigeria’s 1993 age-grade team churned out some international players notably Nwankwo Kanu, who won African footballer of the year twice, and also won the European Champions League playing for Ajax Amsterdam he also plied his trade with Inter Milan, Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion and Portsmouth.

Other notable players who advanced from the cadet teams are Jonathan Akpoborie, Nduka Ugbade, Victor Ikpeba, Wilson Oruma, Celestine Babayaro, and Taye Taiwo.

By Кирилл Венедиктов –, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Some other famous Nigerian footballers include Rashidi Yekini, John Mikel Obi, Jay-Jay Okocha, Obafemi Martins, Vincent Enyeama, Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Peter Odemwingie

Nigeria is also engaged a whole range of other sporting activities such as basketball, tennis and track and field.

Boxing is also a key sport in Nigeria; Nigerian Born Anthony Joshua is a World Champion, Dick Tiger and Samuel Peter are both former World Champions.

The global governing body of Basketball, FIBA, in March 2021, ranked Nigeria as Africa’s top men’s basketball nation.

The nation’s senior basketball team, D’Tigers made the headlines worldwide, when it qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics for beating strongly backed world-conquering teams, Greece and Lithuania.

Nigeria has produced abundant universally acknowledged basketball players in the world’s topmost leagues in America, Europe and Asia.

Some of these players include Basketball Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, NBA draft picks Solomon Alabi, Obinna Ekezie, Yinka Dare, Al-Farouq Aminu, Festus Ezeli, Olumide Oyedeji and others.

With an average viewership of more than a million people, and broadcast on networks like Kwese TV, the Nigerian Premier League has grown to be one of the largest and most-viewed basketball competitions on the African Continent.

The Women’s Two-Person Bobsled team from Nigeria, holds the record of being the first African team to qualify for the XXIII Olympic Winter Games.

After Scrabble was declared an official sport in Nigeria in the early 1990s, by the close of 2017, there were roughly 4,000 players in little more than a 100 clubs in the country.

Scrabble player, Wellington Jighere, in 2015, achieved the record of being the first ever African winner of the World Scrabble Championships.

The Nigerian Curling Federation was created in 2018, to advance a new sport to the country to make the game a feature of the curriculum at the elementary, secondary school, and university level.

Nigeria secured their first international victory in their match with France, beating them 8–5, at the 2019 World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship in Norway.

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