Nigeria Country Facts

By | June 26, 2024
Nigeria – Nijeriya
Capital city Abuja
Surface 923,768 km²
Population 211.4 million
Road network length 60,068 km
Length of highway network 626 km
First highway 1978
Motorway name Expressway
Traffic drives Right
License plate code WAN

Nigeria, formally the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a large country in western Africa. The country is located on the Atlantic Ocean and has 211 million inhabitants, making it the most populous country in Africa. The country has an area of ​​923,768 km², or more than 23 times the size of the Netherlands. The capital is Abuja, the largest city is Lagos.


Located on the Gulf of Guinea of ​​the Atlantic Ocean, Nigeria is bordered to the west by Benin, to the north by Niger and to the east by Chad and Cameroon. The country measures a maximum of 1200 kilometers from west to east and 1050 kilometers from north to south. The capital Abuja is centrally located in the interior, the largest city Lagos is located in the southwest.

Nigeria has a varied landscape, it is mostly quite flat except on the border with Cameroon, with steppe and Sahel in the north to tropical rainforests in the south. In between is a fertile area with many meadows and scattered forests. Although a large part of Nigeria does not have really big differences in height, there are in many places bare rock ridges that rise above the surrounding country. The 2419 meter high Chappal Waddi is the highest point in Nigeria, located in the far east near the border with Cameroon.

Nigeria’s main rivers are the Niger and Benue, which converge in the center of the country. The Niger has a large delta on the Gulf of Guinea. Numerous smaller rivers flow through the country. In the northeast is the large Lake Chad, which has a variable water level. Reservoirs are scattered in the north of the country. The coastal region is largely inaccessible, with lagoons, river deltas and wetland estuaries. Only Lagos is directly on the sea, other major cities are on rivers or estuaries inland.

Nigeria has a variable climate, the north is drier, the south wetter. In the south there is 1500 to 2000 mm precipitation, in the middle 500 to 1500 mm and in the north less than 500 mm, here there is some desertification. In Abuja, the temperature ranges from 29°C in the wet season to 37°C in the dry season. In Lagos, the differences are less significant, here the maximum temperature is between 28 and 33 °C all year round. The south also has a dry season, but this is less pronounced than in the center and north.


Name Population
Lagos 15,300,000
Canoe 4,103,000
Ibadan 3,649,000
Port Harcourt 1,865,000
kaduna 1,652,000
Calabar 1,200,000
Maiduguri 1,197,000
Benin City 1,147,000
Zaria 1,018,000

Nigeria has a rapid population growth, but accurate data on the exact population size is lacking. It is clear that the country has a huge population growth, between 1990 and 2020 the country grew by more than 100 million inhabitants. In 1971 the country had 55 million inhabitants, today more than 200 million. Nigeria is by far the most populous country in Africa, accounting for about 17% of the continent’s population. The United Nations estimates that the country will have between 500 million and 1 billion inhabitants by the year 2100, with a middle variant of 730 million inhabitants, making Nigeria the third most populous country in the world.

The country has numerous large cities, of which Lagos is the largest. Here too it is unclear how big the city really is, but the region is experiencing an explosive population growth. In 1950 Lagos had a population of approximately 300,000, and today it is estimated to have more than 13 million inhabitants. The metropolitan area is estimated to have between 16 and 23 million inhabitants, making it one of the largest cities in the world. However, the city has a chronic lack of adequate infrastructure to accommodate such a large population. Large parts of Lagos consist of slums and informal neighborhoods.

Other cities with more than 1 million inhabitants are Kano, Ibadan, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Benin City. Abuja has been the capital of Nigeria since 1991 and is a planned city in the center of the country. This city also has a stormy population growth.

More than 250 ethnic groups with just as many languages ​​live in Nigeria. It is one of the most diverse countries in the world, although most of them belong to the Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and Fulani groups, which together make up 70% of the population. The many ethnic groups make communication difficult, so English is the official language and lingua franca. Only a small part of the urban elite use English as their first language and in rural areas English is often not spoken at all.

The country also has a diverse religious background, split almost 50/50 into Christians and Muslims. The Muslims mainly live in the north and the Christians mainly in the south. The capital Abuja is therefore also in the middle, to represent both population groups.


Nigeria is one of the largest economies in the world, although the per capita income level is low due to its huge population. In 2019, per capita income was $6,000, above the average for the countries in the region. Typically, fewer Nigerians work in agriculture than in neighboring countries. The agricultural sector is relatively large, but because of the enormous population, the country can no longer provide for its own food and has to import food.

The country is one of the largest oil products in the world, which is the primary source of government revenue. Oil accounts for 40% of GDP and 80% of government revenue. The main oil fields are located in the Niger Delta. The country also has great potential to mine raw materials, but this is only exploited to a limited extent outside the oil sector.


From the 10th century onwards, indigenous kingdoms arose in the region that is now Nigeria. In the 16th century it was the Portuguese who were the first to trade on a larger scale in the region. The slave trade increased at that time, but in Nigeria there was also large-scale internal slavery. In the late 1800s, there were an estimated 2 million slaves in Nigeria itself, mainly in the Sokoto Caliphate in what is now northeastern Nigeria. The British banned the international slave trade in 1807 and took steps to curb the slave trade from Nigeria. In 1885, British claims to this part of Africa were recognized by the rest of Europe at the Berlin conference. In 1901 Nigeria became a British protectorate. Nigeria was then divided into the Northern and Southern Protectorates and the colony of Lagos.

Nigeria became independent from the United Kingdom in 1960. From 1966 there were several coups that led to a civil war in the period 1967-1970. The country was under military rule for the rest of the 20th century, a period when oil production was scaling up and government revenues soared, allowing Nigeria to build a relatively extensive infrastructure. In 1999, democratic elections were held for the first time in 30 years. Since then Nigeria has been relatively stable politically, but the great contradictions between the Muslim north and the Christian south often lead to unrest.


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