The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a West African country bordering Niger in the north, Chad in the northeast, Cameroon in the east, and Benin in the west. Here are 10 interesting facts about the country.
1. Largest population in Africa
Due to its large population and economy, Nigeria is referred to as ‘the giant of Africa’. As of 2019, the population of Nigeria is over 200.96 million, making it the largest in Africa and the seventh-largest in the world behind China, India, the United States, Indonesia, Brazil and Pakistan, in order.
2. Largest economy in Africa
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa. According to the World Bank, Nigeria’s GDP was worth 397.30 billion US dollars in 2018. From 1960 to 2018, Nigeria’s GDP averaged 125.26 billion US dollars, with an all-time high of 568.50 billion US dollars in 2014 and an all-time low of 4.20 billion US dollars in 1960. It is expected to trend around 650 billion US dollars in 2020. 2019 International Monetary Funds estimates by GDP place it as the 23rd largest economy in the world.
3. Multinational state
The country is viewed as a multinational state as it is inhabited by more than 250 ethnic groups, the largest being the Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba. The 250 ethnic groups speak over 500 different native languages amongst them and are identified with a wide variety of cultures.
4. Official language
The official language of Nigeria is Nigerian Standard English, a dialect of English based on British English. It is used in politics, formal education, media, and other official outlets. Nigerian pidgin is used for informal communication.
5. Niger River
Like Niger, Nigeria is named after the Niger River. This is the longest and largest river in West Africa.
6. Major Religions
Christianity and Islam are the major religions in Nigeria. Many Nigerians also practice traditional beliefs.
7. Early civilisations
Nigeria was the birthplace of several early civilisations. The Nok civilisation (1500BC – 200AD) produced life-sized earthenware terracotta figures that are some of the earliest known sculptures in Sub-Saharan Africa. They also smolt iron by 550BC, possibly earlier. Nigeria also had prosperous kingdoms and empires such as the Hausa kingdom, Fulani empire, the Kanem–Bornu Empire and the kingdom of Nri, amongst others.
Nollywood, Nigeria’s massive film industry, is second in terms of output to India’s Bollywood and bigger than the US’s Hollywood. Nollywood is said to produce at least 50 films per week. The country has an Oscars selection committee which this year selected Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart as Nigeria’s first film to the Oscar’s.
9. Capital city
Lagos used to be the capital city of Nigeria until December 1991 when Abuja became the new capital city of Nigeria. Lagos, a port city, was developing while other parts of the country were not. The regime thus moved the capital to Abuja in a bid to expand the economy towards the inner part of the country.
10. Crude oil
Nigeria is one of the largest producers of crude oil in the world. It is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world, the 8th largest exporter, and has the 10th largest proven reserves. Petroleum accounts for 40% of Nigeria’s GDP and 80% of their government earnings.