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Head of state:

President Olusegun Obasanjo


123,337,822 (July 2000 est.)




923,768 km²

Official language:


394 local languages in Nigeria


Edo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Ibo, Tiv, Urhobo, Hausa, Fulani and over 300 languages



International registration:


Time zone:


Population Growth rate:

2.67% (2000 est.)

GNP per capita:


Illiteracy rate:

40% in the south, 60% in the north

Life expectancy:

Female 54 years, male 53 years




Naira = 100 Kobo
1 Kobo 10 Kobo

Country telephone code:



40% Christian, 40% Muslim, 20% Natural beliefs

Ethnic group:

Edo, Yoruba, Izon, Igbo, Efik, Nupe, Tiv, Urhobo, Hausa, Fulani and over 400 ethnic groups

Main import:

Industrial goods, machinery, investment goods, chemical, transport equipment, foodstuff, consumer goods, etc.

Main export:

Crude oil, fuel, peanuts, cocoa, timber, rubber, oil palm, urea, ammonia, etc.

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Before the coming of the British in the 19th century, a series of well established ethnic kingdoms were already existing. These kingdoms included the Benin empire, Ife, Oyo and Kanem-Bornu.

In 15th century the Portuguese landed in the coastal region of Nigeria and established a trade relationship with the powerful Benin Kingdom. In the 16th century the city of Benin and some cities in the Yoruba empire developed to become a vital Portuguese slaves trade centres. About 15 million slaves were shipped to the Americas and Europe. This ugly trade continued until about 1875.

In 1800s, the Fulani conquered the Hausa states and Usman dan Fodio created a strong kingdom. He reign over half of today northern Nigeria.

After the abolition of slavery, the British conquered Lagos. The British attempt to forcibly occupy the rest of resulted in wars. A bloody war fell out between the powerful Benin empire and the British aggressors, however, the British won and went away probably the pride of the Edos - art and craft. Some are today in British museums.

By 1906 Britain controlled all of Nigeria and had established a protectorate.


The demand for independence began in the 1920s. The British policy of indirect rule worked well in the north but unsuccessful in the south. In 1934 a national party “Lagos Youth Movement”(later “Nigerian Youth Movement”) was formed. Demonstrations were organised.

After the WW11 many ethnic base movements were formed; “Action Group” led by Obafemi Awolowo from the Yoruba tribe, “National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons” led by Nnmadi Azikiwe from the east and “Northern People’s Congress” led by Abubakar Tafawa Belawa from the north. Instead of dancing to the tune of the nationalist, the British divided the country into ethnic groups: the Western Nigeria(mainly Yoruba, Edo and Urhobo), Eastern Nigeria (Mainly Ibo, Ibibio, Izon and Efik) and Northern Nigeria (Mainly Hausa, Fulani, Tiv, and Nupe). By 1959 the regions had gained internal autonomy.

On the 1st October 1960, Nigeria was granted independence with three nations (West, East and North). It became a republic in 1963 with Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as a ceremonial president and Abubakar Tafawa Belawa as prime minister. Severe conflicts within and between regions mark the early years of independence. The 1965 parliamentary elections, which was rigged led to massive and bloody unrest.


The first ever democratic government was overthrown in a bloody coup led by General Johnson Aguiyi Ironsi (an Igbo) on the 15th January 1966. The prime minister, the premiers of west and north, and other non-Igbo senior military officers were assassinated. However, the coup was welcome by some sections of the Nigerian public. Six months later he was killed by a group of young northern army officers led by Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon (a Christian from the Middle-Belt).

Gowon inability to react to the massacres of the Igbos in September 1966 in the north led to the horror view of Gowon rule by the Igbos. The Igbos of the Eastern region led the military commander of the region, Lieutenant Colonel Ojukwu proclaimed the independent republic of “Biafra” in May 1967. This was followed by disastrous civil war until the surrender of the Biafra in 1970.


Gowon efforts to rebuild the country ended in 1975 in a bloodless military coup led by General Murtala Mohammed (a Northern Nigerian). He tried his best to clean up all organs of the government. He was assassinated in an attempted coup in early 1976. His deputy General Olusegun Obasanjo took over the leadership until 1979 when he handed power to a democratically elected president Alhaji Shehu Shagari (from the north).

Alhaji Shehu Shagari, proved to be no better than his predecessors. Shagari squandered the country’s wealth on grandiose and ill-considered projects. He was re-elected in 1983 but was overthrown at the end of the year by another military coup which brought Major General Muhammed Buhari (also from the north) to power. The regime was supported by many Nigerians but hated by the west because of his refusal to accept the IMF policies.

Buhari and his gang was overthrown by fellow Hausa General Ibrahim Babangida in 1985.

Babangida ruled like his predecessors from the north with iron-fist. Nepotism, tribalism, corruption, political intimidation were promoted by Babangida. Opponents were assassinated (Dele Giwa, a respected journalist was allegedly killed in 1986 by Babangida agents)

Presidential elections were promised and postponed many times. The much delayed presidential elections finally went ahead in June 1993. Nigerians voted in one of the free and fair elections in the history of the country. The elections result probably won by Moshood Abiola, a Yoruba from the south, a major coup financier, arrogant and Babangida’s good friend was annulled by Babangida.

Babangiada under pressure from fellow junta members handed over power in August 1993 to hand-picked interim civilian government headed by Ernest Shonekan (A Yoruba from the south). Three months later , General Sani Abacha(Fulani from the north) seized control on a bloodless coup and forced Shonekan to announce his government’s resignation.

Democratic institutions of all forms were abolished. Opponents were systematically killed (Pa Rawane, Ken Saro-Wiwa, etc.), some fled in exile (Wole Soyinka, Pa Anthony Enahoro, etc.) and some went were kept in prisons without trials. Abacha died of undisclosed disease (probably of Aids) on the 8 June 1998. His army chief of staff General Abdulsalam Abubakar (also from the north) became the new head of state.

Abubakar released political prisoners including General Obasanjo. General elections were conducted in 1999.


Nigeria lies in West Africa, border by Benin in the west, east by Cameroon, Chad in the north-east, north-west by Niger and in the south by the Atlantic Ocean. The rivers (Niger and Benue) divide Nigeria into three regions. The Niger-Delta region is mainly swamps, thick forest and is home to one of the largest oil reserve in Africa. The north touches on the Sahel and is mostly savannah with low hills. Third region, is in the central and south-east of the country. It is made up of plateau (Jos plateau- 2000m) and mountains along the Cameroon border.


The climate is hot and wet in the southern part of the country. The average daily temperature reaches 25°C. It has a hot and dry climate north of the country. The average daily temperature reaches 32°C. The rainy season is between April and October in the south and from May to September in the north. Between December and March is the harmattan period.