Geography and Landscape


Nigeria is located in West Africa and borders the Gulf of Guinea on the seafront. Nigeria also borders Niger, Benin, Chad and Cameroon. The area of Nigeria is 923,768 square kilometers.

Nigeria Satellietfoto Photo: public domain


Nigeria is named after the Niger River. With a length of 4200 kilometers, this river is the longest river in Africa after the Nile and the Zaire.

The coastal region of Nigeria consists of lagoons and wide estuaries. Here is a relatively fertile area, formed by the entrained silt of the Niger. The northern part of Nigeria is formed by high plains. Here is the so-called Jos plateau with an average height of 1200 meters. The Share Hill is the highest point, 1752 meters, of the Jos plateau. The landscape becomes higher towards the border with neighboring Cameroon. Here lies the Shebshi Mountains and the highest point in Nigeria namely the Dimlang which is 2042 meters high.

Zuma Rock in de buurt van Suleja, Centraal-NigeriaPhoto: Jeff Attaway, CC BY 2.0 no changes made

Climate and Weather

Sunset NigeriaPhoto:Mikeudom Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Nigeria is a tropical country, although there are climate differences due to the size of the country and the differences in altitude. There is less rainfall in the north than in the south. There is a long dry period here with an average temperature of 26 °C. There is an average of 900 mm of precipitation per year. In the south there are two periods of rain. The coastal region of Nigeria has a tropical rainforest climate with an average temperature of 27 °C and an average rainfall of 4000 mm of rain per year.

Plants and Animals


Ogurugu NigeriaPhoto:Bright Usani Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Nigeria has partly tropical rainforest and partly dry savannas. However, the rainforests are in severe decline. The export of tropical hardwood is now also prohibited. There are desert steppes in the northeast of Nigeria. Shrubs and various trees, such as the baobab (monkey bread tree), grow centrally in Nigeria. Mangrove forests and swamps grow along the coast. Nigeria has two wildlife parks and eight protected areas.


Colobus MonkeyPhoto:Ducan Wright Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In Nigeria there are different kinds of animals, such as the elephant, hippo, giraffe, antelope, buffalo and lion. The endangered lives in the southeast, this animal is very rare. New animal species are still being discovered in the rainforest. A few years ago, the giant boar and the colobus monkey were discovered. The total number of mammal species is estimated at 250.

In Nigeria one can also find many bird species such as storks, ostriches and marabou.


Population groups

9th century bronze vessel in the shape of a snail shell found at Igbo-Ukwu NigeriaPhoto:Ochiwar Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

The main populations of Nigeria are the Hausa / Fulani (50% - in the north), the Yoruba (in the southwest) and the Igbo (in the southeast). Religiously, Nigeria is roughly divided into north and south: the Hausa / Fulani have been predominantly Muslim for about 1,000 years and are under an Emir in Kano. The Yoruba and Igbo were Christianized in the course of the nineteenth and twentieth century. About 10% of the population mainly adheres to traditional rites. The areas in the north belong geographically and culturally to the Sahel-Sudan zone. Those in the south - originally mainly tropical forest - are traditionally oriented towards the coast.

British rule

Stamp colonial Nigeria 1901Photo:Public domain

Due to the Bitse colonial administration, north and south, areas that differ greatly from each other, were merged into present-day Nigeria. Ethnic liberation movements emerged in response to British colonial rule. The Igbos united in the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) and the Youruba in the Action Group (AG). The emirs in the north, dependent on the British for their power, did not want independence. In order to assert their influence, the Hausa united in 1949 in the Northern People's Congress (NPC). This political division shaped the Nigeria Federation in the 1950s, which became formally independent in 1960.

Nigeria independant

Obasanjo NigeriaPhoto:José Cruz/ABr Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil no changes made

After state elections in Western Nigeria in 1965, a military coup led by mainly Igbo-signature officers in 1966 ended the Federation. When the coup plotters declared that they wanted to promote a viable state, over and above the favor of tribal societies, the Hausa tribes in particular felt threatened. Led by Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon, a counter coup followed on July 29, 1966. Igbos from all over Nigeria fled to the Southeast where rebel leader Chukwuemeka Ojukwu on May 26, 1967 proclaimed Eastern Nigeria a Republic of Biafra. The subsequent Biafra war lasted until January 1970 and resulted in the (starvation) death of 1 to 2 million people. With the exception of a brief interruption in the period 1979-1983, military power over Nigeria would remain until the 1993 elections.

In addition, the Yoruba businessman M.K.O Abiola emerged as the winner. Two weeks later, Babangida declared the election invalid. Power passed to General Sani Abacha, the former Defense Minister in November 1993. He immediately abolished all remaining democratic institutions and placed his generals in important positions. A period followed when human rights were no longer respected. Many opposition forces, including noted environmental activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, were executed.

In May 1999, Youruba Obasanjo won the presidential election. His election, with the support of many retired soldiers from Hausa / Fulani area, marked the de facto end of the Nigerian dictatorship. Obasanjo supported (in word) the creation of a truth commission, the Oputa Panel, which took on the task of investigating the widespread human rights violations committed during Nigeria's 16 years of dictatorship, in particular during the reign from General Abache. Freedom of the press was restored and political prisoners were released.

21th century

Goodluck Jonathan, NigeriaPhoto:World Economic Forum Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic no changes

In April 2003, both presidential and local elections took place. Obasanjo and his People's Democratic Party (PDP) both won elections by a large majority.

As of 2006, militants have been attacking pipelines and other oil industry facilities. In April 2007, Umaru Yar'Adua won the presidential election of the ruling PDP. In March 2009, the opposition parties form a front to face the PDP in the 2011 elections. In July 2009, hundreds of people are killed in the fight by the Boko Haram Islamists to get Sharia law in place. The army is killing the leader of the movement. Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua passed away in May 2010. 58-year-old Yar'Adua had heart and kidney problems and was previously nursed in a hospital in Saudi Arabia for three months. In February he returned to Nigeria. Yar'Adua died in a hospital in the capital Abuja. He was elected head of state in 2007.

Yar'Adua's duties had long been assumed by Goodluck Jonathan, the country's interim president. In March, Jonathan unexpectedly replaced his team of ministers. According to observers, Jonathan wanted to assert his power after Yar'Adua's return to the land. Yar'Adua did not appear in public after returning to Nigeria. There were frequent tensions between supporters of the president and Jonathan.

According to the constitution, Jonathan was now sworn in as president. He must appoint a new vice president himself. New presidential elections were held in April 2011, Goodluck Jonathan is the winner. After his election, the president faces attacks by the Islamic group Boko Haram, and at the end of 2011 he announces a state of emergency. In 2012 and 2013, the fight against Boko Haram continues unabated. In November 2013 a number of governors leave the ruling party, which weakens the position of Goodluck Jonathan. In April 2014 Boko Haram kidnaps 200 schoolgirls, Nigeria gains support in the search of the international community. In March 2015, opposition candidate Buhari wins the presidential election. In 2016 and 2017, the disturbances with Boko Haram continued. In May 2017, 80 of the kidnapped schoolgirls were released during a prisoner exchange with Boko Haram.


Bevolkingsdichtheid Nigeriaanse statenPhoto:Marcel Krüger CC BY-SA 3.0 no changes made

Nigeria is home to 190,632,261 people (2017 estimate). The population density is slightly more than 206 inhabitants per square kilometer.

The natural population growth is 2.43%. (2017)

Birth rate per 1000 inhabitants is 36.9 (2017)

Mortality rate per 1000 inhabitants is 12.4 (2017)

Life expectancy is 53.8 years, men 52.8 and women 55 years (2017)

Population composition:

The 3 largest population groups are the Hausa 29%, Yoruba 21% and the Ibo 18%. In addition, there are about 250 different ethnic groups.


English, is the official language of Nigeria. But Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo and Fulfulde and more than 500 other tribal languages are also spoken in Nigeria. In general, English is most commonly spoken in urban areas, the indigenous languages are mainly spoken in rural areas. In Nigeria, languages of the three major African language families exist: Afroasiatic, Nilo-Sahara and Niger-Congo.


Religoius and Ethnic map of NigeriaPhoto:Khiram Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

In Nigeria, the division into religious denominations is as follows: Muslims (50%), Christians (40%) and indigenous religions (10%). The north is predominantly Islamic and the south Christian. There are many religious tensions between Christians and Muslims. In twelve northern provinces, civil law has been replaced by Islamic Sharia.


State structure

Nigeria ParliamentPhoto:Kabusa16 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Nigeria is a republic headed by a president who is elected for four years. The new Constitution was established in May 1999. At the national level, the Constitution provides for a Senate with 109 seats and a House of Representatives with 360 seats. At the federal level, Nigeria has 36 states, each with its own legislature and an elected governor. Three political parties, all established in 1998, set the political scene in Nigeria. These are the People's Democratic Party (PDP), the All People's Party (APP) and the Alliance for Democracy (AD). The APP has a lot of support from former Abacha supporters. The AD finds its support mainly among the Yoruba of the southwestern states.


Oilindustry Niger DeltaPhoto:sixoone Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Immediately after taking office in 1999, President Obasanjo took numerous confidence-building measures within the political system and the military. The country continues to suffer greatly from corruption at all levels of society. Hot issues such as the redistribution of federal allowances to the 36 states and the institutional issues associated with the introduction of Sharia in the North have continued to stalemate after the 2005 National Political Reform Conference.

One problem is endemic violence in the Niger Delta, including hostage-taking of oil company personnel and attacks on oil installations. This violence is both criminal and political in nature and is partly due to the underdevelopment of the area, corruption and lack of good governance. The population attributes the underdevelopment to a lack of (financial) contributions from the oil companies. They argue that their legally required remittance of a significant part of the oil revenues to the government through corruption (including at the government organization Niger Delta Development Commission) only partially benefits the population.

“Illegal bunkering” by criminal gangs, with the cooperation of police and military, generates a lot of money for the purchase of weapons for criminal actions.

The current political situation is described in the chapter history.


Oil factory NigeriaPhoto:Xeon Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported no changes made

Oil remains at the heart of the Nigerian economy and the state's financial base. Nigeria is Africa's main oil and gas exporter; the oil determines more than 75% of the state's income. Due to the high oil prices in recent years, the government is generally keeping up with the economic tide. Many other sectors, especially agriculture, have been neglected. There is still much room for improvement in Nigeria, especially in the areas of a transparent government, an effective tax system, the fight against corruption and reforms in the Nigerian institutions. Economic growth was 0.8% in 2017. GDP was $ 5,900 per capita in the same year.

Nigeria has presented an ambitious socio-economic reform plan, the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), reflected at the state level in the State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy). NEEDS focuses on sustainable growth and poverty reduction by means of improvement of social infrastructure, economic growth and improvement of the functioning of the government. The program focuses on the private sector and aims to improve the business climate, increase productivity and competitiveness, diversify the economy and reduce government intervention.

Nigeria ExportPhoto:R Haussmann, Cesar Hidalgo, et. al Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported no changes made

NEEDS also provides for a Fiscal Responsibility Bill (tabled in Parliament, but still met with opposition from state governors), a Procurement Bill (aimed at making large transactions more transparent) and an Oil Revenue Transparency Bill (not yet adopted by the Parliament). NEEDS is positively valued by the IMF, but there are doubts about implementation at state level (SEEDS), by governors whose (political) agenda is not always in line with that of the federal government.

Nigeria has recently intensified its economic relations with China. Both countries agreed that China will be the first choice in selling the exploitation rights to four oil fields at Kaduna in exchange for a $ 4 billion investment in infrastructure. The Chinese oil company Cnooc has taken a 45% interest in a large offshore oil installation for 2.7 billion dollars. Exports were worth $ 146 billion in 2017. The main export partners are the United States, India, China, Spain and the Netherlands. Imports were worth $ 32.7 billion in 2017. The main import partners are China, Belgium, the United States and South Korea.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Zuma's Rock, NigeriaPhoto:Jeff Attaway Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic no changes made

Nigeria has many tourist attractions and things to do. Before a visit, check the travel advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Below you will find some suggestions for what to see during a visit to this unique country. One of the most famous sights is the gigantic Zuma's Rock.

Royal palace Benin City, NigeriaPhoto:Kelechukwu Ajoku Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes

Benin City is located in the Edo area about five hours from Badagry. The city is famous for its ivory and bronze works of art and is one of the most appreciated Nigerian tourist attractions. Here you will find the royal palace a "must see".

Wiki Warm Spring Yankari, NigeriaPhoto:Mujahid18 Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International no changes made

Yankari, 225 km east of Jos, is Nigeria's best national park for wildlife viewing. The park still has significant numbers of buffalo, waterbuck, bushbuck and many baboons. The biggest draw are the 500 elephants. You can also do excellent bird watching. The best time to see animals is from the end of December to the end of April, before the rainy season when the thirsty animals gather at the Gaji River. The Wikki Warm Spring is located near the campsite at the park. This crystal clear water has a constant temperature of 31 °C. The lake is 200 m long and 10 m wide.

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Elmar Landeninformatie

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Last updated October 2021
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