Federal Republic of Nigeria
356,668.82 sq mi
923,768.00 sq km
123,337,822 (July 2000 est.) note: estimates for this country explicitly
take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS
Estimated Population in 2050
English (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani
57.1% total, 67.3% male, 47.3% female (1995 est.)
Muslim 50%, Christian 40%, indigenous beliefs 10%
51.58 male, 51.55 female (2000 est.)
republic transitioning from military to civilian rule
1 naira (N) = 100 kobo
GDP (per capita)
$970 (1999 est.)
Labor Force (by occupation)
agriculture 54%, industry 6%, services 40% (1999 est.)
crude oil, coal, tin, columbite, palm oil, peanuts, cotton, rubber,
wood, hides and skins, textiles, cement and other construction materials,
food products, footwear, chemicals, fertilizer, printing, ceramics,
cocoa, peanuts, palm oil, corn, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava (tapioca),
yams, rubber; cattle, sheep, goats, pigs; timber; fish
petroleum and petroleum products 95%, cocoa, rubber
machinery, chemicals, transport equipment, manufactured goods, food
and live animals
petroleum, tin, columbite, iron ore, coal, limestone, lead, zinc, natural
gas, hydropower, arable land
Current Environmental Issues
soil degradation; rapid deforestation; desertification; recent droughts
in north severely affecting marginal agricultural activities
Telephones (main lines in use)
Telephones (mobile cellular)
Internet Service Providers (ISPs)
The earliest Nigerians were the Nok people, skilled artisans from around
the Jos area. By the beginning of the second millennium the Nok had
virtually disappeared and the state of Kanem, to the north east of Lake
Chad, was flourishing. Much of Kanem was Islamic, as were the kingdoms
around Kano and Katsina, and its wealth came from control of the trans-Saharan
trade route from West Africa to the Mediterranean. These northern Islamic
states remained untouched by Europeans until well into the 19th century.
By contrast the southern states were dominated in the 14th and 15th
centuries by a number of Yoruba empires with traditional Obas (kings)
who cultivated European contact through the Portugese spice trade.
end of the 18th century Fulani religious zealots in the north, sick
of being dominated by the Islamic Hausa states, took over and created
the single Islamic state of the Sokoto Caliphate. This original division
between the Islamic government in the north and the Yoruba tribes in
the south has never healed, and over the years intertribal fighting
and civil wars have rubbed salt into the wounds. Even today Nigerian
politics is riddled with tribal rivalries and ancient axes to grind.
bottom fell out of the spice trade, the Portugese, and then the British,
began a miserable trade slaves, but by 1807 slavery had been banned
and the British began to look for other ways to turn a buck. British
companies began to take control of the Jos mines thus destroying the
livelihood of thousands of independent tin producers. Worse still, the
heavy reliance on mining exports was achieved at the expense of Nigeria's
export food crops and the country had its first-ever food shortage.
The British had also appointed chiefs in the southern Ibo communities
to run the area but this was like hammering square pegs into round holes.
These 'invented chiefs' had little in common with the people and simmering
hostility and resentment was the usual result.
Nigeria declared independence. Unfortunately the British system of colonialism
had done nothing to unify Nigeria or prepare it for independence. The
historical conflicts between north and south, and other inter-regional
fighting, made the idea of a unified republic unworkable. By 1966 the
dream of a flourishing democracy was floundering amidst a series of
massacres, inter-regional hostilities and, finally, a military coup
that installed the first of a series of military governments. The Ibo
responded by seceding from the federation and declaring the independent
republic of Biafra, kick-starting an all-out civil war that lasted for
nearly three years before federal Nigeria won and reintegrated Biafra.
The war left behind nearly 1,000,000 dead and 'Biafra' as a byword in
mass destruction and famine.
seesawing fortunes it was almost predictable that they would follow
one of the world's worst famines with a champagne period of excessive
prosperity. Rocketing oil prices provided the Nigerian government with
a chance to go on a spending spree of reckless proportions and the country
quickly became a hotbed of foreigners rushing to Nigeria with their
dash (bribe) money. Corruption became de rigueur, crime rampant, and
chaos spread like cancer. By the early 1980s the world recession sent
oil prices plummeting again and plunged Nigeria into a cycle of massive
debt, soaring inflation, large-scale unemployment and widespread corruption.
In 1993 the country came under the iron-fisted rule of General Abacha.
delivering on the promise of a US-style democracy, Abacha earned the
wrath of human rights group and the censure of the Commonwealth nations
for executing well-known playwright Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight others for
seditious political activity. This and other despotic actions sparked
rioting and civil unrest across Nigeria. In June 1998 Abacha died and
was immediately replaced by Major General Abubakar. Abubakar promised
a return to civilian rule. He kept his promise and in 1999 Olusegun
Obasanjo, a former military leader and - until 1998 - a political prisoner,
was elected president.
election of Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerians were euphoric, as it seemed
they were finally free from military rule. It was not long before things
deteriorated as several rival groups (religious and tribal), no longer
threatened by army intervention, settled down to protracted conflict.
The worst manifestations of the violence were the Sharia'a riots (over
full implementation of Islamic law) which broke out in many centres
in February 2000. In one night, described in The Guardian as 'mind-boggling
carnage', over 300 people were killed in hand-to-hand rioting between
Igbo Christians and Hausa Muslims in Kaduna.
was in turmoil, and the situation was exacerbated by fuel shortages
and extended power blackouts. Obasanjo sacked the entire NEPA (power
authority) board after weeks of darkness throughout the country.
has improved under the new democracy. Obasanjo has consolidated Nigeria's
position as West Africa's political heavyweight and a key player in
the Commonwealth, as well as launching the New Partnership for African
Development (NEPAD) in conjunction with Algeria and South Africa, but
the country is still beset by internal problems, with frequent outbreaks
of ethnic and religious violence, explosions and gang war in Lagos and
militant attacks on the southern oilfields during the 2003 Iraq war.
Presidential elections in April 2003 did nothing to quell international
concerns about Nigeria's stability – while Obasanjo claimed an overwhelming
victory, independent observers expressed reservations over 'serious
irregularities' and intimidation in certain electoral districts, and
his Muslim rival (and fellow former military leader) Muhammed Buhari
rejected the result with veiled threats of violence. The result has
been allowed to stand and so far Obasanjo has not encountered serious
resistance, but with opposition parties just waiting for him to slip
up, it seems this is once again a make-or-break time for Nigerian democracy