NIGERIA - ABOUT
The people of Nigeria have overcome an extensive and complex history, dating back to a highly advanced culture in 500 BC. These early years saw a country that numbered among the richest of our ancient world. Outside influences arose with the arrival of Islam in the first millennium. When trade routes opened in the 1400s, Portugal gained a foothold and soon faced incursions foremost from the Dutch and British to control the profitable slave trade.
The British emerged with dominant control in the 1700s and began working to eliminate the slave trading. The west African country became a British colony in 1861 and was divided into three parts. After 90 years of British rule, Nigerian began working towards self-rule, establishing the Nigerian Federation in 1954.
It wasn’t long before the various ethnic groups began jockeying for control and, in 1966, civil war broke out. For three years, Nigeria was ravaged by a war that resulted in millions of death and the devastation of its economy. The full-out war ended with the secession of Biafra, but coup after coup continued the political instability. Finally, in 1999 after 16 years, Nigeria’s first democratic, popularly elected president was voted into office.
With the new administration came growth in Nigeria’s tourism industry. To rejuvenate the tourist trade, the private and public sectors are working together to restore this tropical country’s numerous tourist attractions.
Sports tourism has done a great deal to bring Nigeria into the popular eye. Some of the major names of international soccer have emerged. As host of the World Soccer Championship in 1999, Nigeria received worldwide attention.
The 2000 Olympic games in Sydney generated additional publicity, as well as $6.1 billion in profits. Many of the 1.6 million who attended the games also visited such sites as the National and war museums, the Yankari Games Reserve, Wikki Spring and the Badagry Tourist Centers.
The city of Kano has become a popular urban travel destination. As an ancient learning center, this northern city was an important Nigerian emirate before British control. Today, it’s a city worth exploring for its historical and shopping opportunities.
The capital city of Abuja is beginning to welcome many visitors, while other tourists have become enchanted by the Italian-styled roofs of Ibadan.
NIGERIA - FACTS
Full country name: Federal Republic of Nigeria
Area: 923,768 square kilometers (356,757 square miles)
Population: 131 million (July 2006 est.)
Time difference: Six hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time
Location: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Benin and Cameroon
Climate: Varies from equatorial in south, tropical in center and arid in north
Terrain: Southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in southeast, plains in north
Reference map: http://worldatlas.com/webimage/countrys/af.htm
Exchange rate: One Naira = $0.008122 or $1 = 123.120 Naira (January 2007)
International calling code: 234
Ethnic groups: More than 250 ethnic groups. The most populous and politically influential include: Hausa and Fulani 29%; Yoruba 21%; Igbo (Ibo) 18%; Ijaw 10%; Kanuri 4%; Ibibio 3.5%; and Tiv 2.5%.
Languages: English (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo) and Fulani
Religions: Muslim 50%; Christian 40%; and indigenous beliefs 10%
Government: Federal Republic
Capital city: Abuja
GDP: $175.5 billion (2005 est.)
GDP per capita: $1,400 (2005 est.)
Agricultural products: Cocoa, peanuts, palm oil, corn, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava (tapioca), yams, rubber; cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, timber and fish
Major products/Industries: Crude oil, coal, tin, columbite, palm oil, peanuts, cotton, rubber, wood, hides and skins, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food products, footwear, chemicals, fertilizer, printing, ceramics, steel, small commercial ship construction and repair
Environmental concerns: Soil degradation; rapid deforestation; urban air and water pollution; desertification; oil pollution (water, air and soil). Nigeria has suffered serious damage from oil spills, loss of arable land and rapid urbanization
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