The name Nigeria [aka Niger area] is derived from river Niger which is the largest and longest river in West Africa. Nigeria is a federal republic located in West Africa. It shares borders with republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east and Niger in the north. Its coast lies in the Gulf of Guinea in the south and it borders Lake Chad in the North east.
The Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba are the largest ethnic groups amidst over 250 ethnic groups with over 500 indigenous languages but the English language remains the official language. In Nigeria, approximately half of the population is Muslim and the other half are Christians, while a minority practice indigenous religions.
With approximately 0ver 200 million population, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh-largest in the world. She is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and her economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. It is the largest exporter of oil in Africa and the continent’s largest economy. As a regional power, Nigeria dominates the West African region.
Nigeria has a history of human existence dated back to 900 BC with the Nok civilization being the earliest, as it dates from 500 BC to 200 AD. This is evidenced in the earliest terracotta sculptures which suggested a social structure and religion similar to the ancient Egyptian civilization.
The oldest kingdom in Nigeria is the Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people in south-eastern Nigeria that dated from the 10th century and Nri is considered to be the cradle of the Igbo culture.
The earliest cities in Nigeria are the Northern cities of Kano and Katsina which began around 1000 CE. About 1400, the Oyo kingdom was founded and got to its peak from the 17th to 19th century. It was around this time that European traders began to establish ports for the slave trade to the Americas which lasted for about 300 years. At the abolition of slave trade in the 19th century, trading of goods like palm oil and timber began.
Nigeria became a British protectorate in 1901 and in 1914, the Northern and southern protectorates were amalgamated by Lord Lugard and it became Nigeria and was administered as one entity through the indirect rule system. The British ruled Nigeria from the late 1800s until the end of the 2nd World War, which saw the birth of Nationalism. In response to growing nationalism and independence demands, Nigeria was granted independence on 1st October, 1960 and became a Republic in 1963.
Government and Politics
Nigeria adopted the United States of America’s Presidential System of Government with a bicameral legislature, which has Upper (Senate) and Lower (House of Representatives) houses. The President is elected into a four year term with no more than two tenures.
The Senate and House of Representatives check the President’s power. There are 109 members of the Senate with three members for each state and one from the capital region. There are 360 seats in the House of Representatives with the population of states determining the number of seats. The members are usually elected into a four year term and can be re-elected for several other terms. The country’s political parties are currently no-religious and pan national.
Nigeria has four distinct legal systems which are English Law, Common Law, Customary Law, and Sharia Law. Each is used in different circumstances and regions. The highest court in the judiciary is the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
Nigeria’s foreign policy is channeled towards the promotion of African integration, African unity and the promotion of international cooperation for the consolidation of universal peace. This objective has been showcased through the following activities;
- Nigeria led the fight to end Apartheid in South Africa.
- In the 1960s, the country maintained close ties with Israel.
- At the end of the Civil War ended in the 1970s, the country became committed to liberation disputes in Southern Africa. While it never sent troops, it did send large amounts of money to anti-colonial struggles.
- Nigeria was an initial member of the Organization for African Unity, which became the African Union. It also founded regional efforts in West Africa. At the United Nation’s request.
- Nigeria sent troops to the Congo after independence.
- As part of OPEC, Nigeria has been a major petroleum producer and key participant in the international oil industry.
- In search of greener pastures, Nigerians have emigrated to Australia, North America, and Europe. In the U.S., one million Nigerians have emigrated and constitute the Nigerian American population while contributing to the economic growth of their resident countries and to the gross domestic product of their original countries.
Nigeria is on the Gulf of Guinea with a total area of 923,768 sq. km. It is approximately twice the size of the state of California in the United States of America. Nigeria is a biodiversity center and it is believed that the areas around Calabar contain the most diverse population of butterflies. The only location where the drill monkey is found in the wild is in Southeast Nigeria and Cameroon.
The landscape is varied and the far south is defined by tropical rainforest. The Obudu Plateau is in the southeast. The southwest and southeast have coastal plains. There is a mangrove swamp in the south as well. The fresh water swamp is in the south.
The valleys of the Niger and Benue Rivers are the most expansive topographical region. Southwest of the Niger is rugged highlands. There is a rich rain forest near the Cameroon border on the coast.
Between the far north and far south is savannah. This area has three categories which are the Guinean forest-savanna mosaic, plains of tall grass, and Sahel savannah. There is desert-like climate in the Sahel. Lake Chad is in the dry, north-east part of the country.
The country is subdivided into six geo-political regions; South-east, South-south, South-west, North-east, Northwest and North-central. There are 36 states and one Federal Capital Territory which are further subdivided into 774 Local Government Areas.
Nigeria’s economy is mixed and is an emerging market. The World Bank classifies it as a middle income country. It has abundant resources, well-developed financial, communications, transport, and legal sectors and a stock exchange that is Africa’s second largest. It is the USA’s largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa and provides a fifth of its oil. The United States of America is Nigeria’s largest foreign investor.
Key Economic Sectors
The country is the world’s 12th-largest oil producer and the 8th-largest exporter. Its reserves are the 10th largest and it joined OPEC in 1971. Petroleum resources provide 40 percent of Nigeria’s GDP and 80 percent of the government’s earnings.
The country’s telecommunications markets are one of the fastest growing as the government has started to expand its communications infrastructure. The country has three space satellites monitored from Abuja.
The financial industry is developed and has a mix of international and local banks, brokerage firms, asset management companies, insurers, equity funds, and investment banks.
There are also significant mineral resources that are not exploited, including coal, bauxite, gold, natural gas, tantalite, tin, iron ore, niobium, limestone, lead, and zinc.
In the past, agriculture was a principal foreign export earner. It was the largest exporter of cocoa, groundnuts, and palm oil. About 60 percent of those in Nigeria work in the agricultural sector.
Nigeria has Africa’s highest population, which is estimated at 199,441,213 million (2018), with a 3.50 percent growth rate. The country’s growth and fertility rates are also some of the highest. In 1950, Nigeria only had 33 million people.
Over 43 percent of the people are between 0-14 years old, while those between 15 and 65 years make up close to 54 percent of the population. The death rate is much lower than the birth rate.
One of the unique traits of Nigeria is her diverse cultures and traditions which are most times expressed through music, movies and literatures.
Music and Film
West African high-life, Afro beat, and palm-wine music are part of Nigerian music. Other artists, such as Fela Kuti, fuse indigenous music with American Jazz and Soul which is known as Afro beat. Percussion music that is combined with traditional Yoruba music is known as JuJu. Hip hop is also gaining followers in Nigeria.
The film industry is known as Nollywood. This is the second largest movie producer in the world. Most studios are based in Lagos and Enugu.
Nigeria is almost divided half and half between followers if Islam and Christianity. Traditional religion is also practied. Most Muslims reside in the north and Christians mostly are in the south. Most Muslims are Sunni but minorities of Shia and Sufi are present. A few northern states use Sharia law in lieu of secular legal systems. Of the Christians, approximately half are Roman Catholic and the other half are Protestants.
Football is the most popular sport. The national team is known as the Super Eagles and has made the World Cup competition four times. It has won the African Cup of Nations twice. FIFA ranks Nigeria as the sixth-best football nation in Africa and the 44th-highest in the world.
The Rebrand Nigeria Campaign
Nigerians are a hardworking and hospitable people. Their beliefs in a better tomorrow keeps them going and it is of little wonder that they have been described as the happiest people in the World.
What is most interesting about Nigerians is that the diverse ethnic groups, languages, cultures and religions which is supposed to be their dividing factor is what unites and binds them, hence the celebration of our “Unity in Diversity”.
We invite you to join the Rebrand Nigeria Campaign by using these hastags; #RebrandNigeria, #RebrandNigeriaAmbassadors, #UgwumbaLeadershipCenter in sharing the positive stories about Nigeria and her people around the world.