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Brief History

Nigeria, officially known as the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is Africa’s most populous country, heavily influenced by the British control throughout the 19th century. Since its independence in 1960, Nigeria is currently experiencing its longest civilian rule, where the 2007 elections marked the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power. In January 2010, Nigeria assumed a non-permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council for the 2010-2011 term. It is also a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Nigeria’s relations with its neighbors can be somewhat strained although the situation does not often deteriorate into violent incidents. The main areas of dispute surround the issue of border demarcations, oil producing Niger Delta region and inadequate infrastructure. On May 6, 2010 Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan became the 14th president to assume head of state.


Nigeria, capital Abuja, is located in Western Africa covering an area of 923,768 square kilometers. It shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its southern coast lies on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. Nigeria’s climate varies from arid in the north, to tropical in the center and equatorial in the south. The Niger River flows from the north of Nigeria and swamps to its delta in the south at the Gulf of Guinea, encompassing tropical rain forests and swamps. Nigeria is rich in natural resources such as natural gas, petroleum, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc and arable land.


Nigeria has a population of 152,217, 341 (2010) of over 250 ethnic groups that speak English, which is the official language, and other Nigerian languages such as Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulan. The literacy rate is 68% and it has an unemployment rate of 4.9%. Its religions are distributed among 40% Christians, 50% Muslims and 10% followers of indigenous beliefs. There are small minorities of British, American, East Indian, Chinese, white Zimbabwean, Japanese, Greek, Syrian and Lebanese immigrants in Nigeria.


The government of Nigeria is subject to a federal republic system comprised of thirty six states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Its legal system is based on English common law, Islamic law (in 12 northern states), and traditional law. It accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdictions with reservations. Following the death of President Yar’Adua on May 6, 2010, the Nigerian Chief Justice swore in Goodluck Jonathan as President and Chief of State. Its official currency is the Naira where 150 Naira are equivalent to US$1.


Nigeria is the third largest economy in Africa, and is a regional power that is also the regional hegemony in West Africa. It is one of the world’s fastest growing economies and is listed among the “Next Eleven” economies by Goldman Sachs. The present government has initiated many economic reforms in order to curb the instability that resulted from years of military rule and that failed to decrease its over-dependence on the oil sector, which provides 95% of foreign exchange earnings and about 80% of budgetary revenues. The government is working towards developing stringer public-private partnerships for electricity and roads since infrastructure is the main impediment to growth. Since 2008, the government has begun showing the political will to implement the market-oriented reforms urged by the IMF, such as to modernize the banking system, to curb inflation by blocking excessive wage demands, and to resolve regional disputes over the distribution of earnings from the oil industry.

Nigeria is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the 8th largest exporter, and has the 10th largest proven reserves. Petroleum plays a large role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40% of its US$357.2 billion GDP and 80% of Government earnings. Nigeria has one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets in the world and its government has recently begun expanding this infrastructure to space based communications. The country has a highly developed financial services sector, with a mix of local and international banks, asset management companies, brokerage houses, insurance companies and brokers, private equity funds and investment banks. Nigeria also has a wide array of underexploited mineral resources which include natural gas, coal, bauxite, tantalite, gold, tin, iron ore, limestone, niobium, lead and zinc; however, the mining industry in Nigeria is still in its infancy. About 60% of Nigerians work in the agricultural sector, and Nigeria has vast areas of underutilized arable land. It is the world’s largest exporter of groundnuts, cocoa and palm and it is a significant producer of coconuts, citrus, sugar cane, pearl miller and yams. The country has recently made considerable amount of revenue from home made Nigerian Movies which are sold locally and internationally. These movies are popular in other African countries and among African immigrants in Europe.

Nigeria has an inflation rate of 11.5% (2009) and its Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is estimated to be US$1,160.61 (2010).

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