The name Nigeria was taken from the Niger River running through the country. This name was coined by Flora Shaw, the future wife of Baron Lugard, a British colonial administrator, in the late 19th century.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, the seventh most populous country in the world, and the most populous country in the world in which the majority of the population is black. It is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies, and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations.
We shouldn’t beat about the bush: Nigeria has an image problem. It dominates West Africa economically and politically, and has produced music and literature whose influence spreads far beyond the continent. But for all this clout, mention the country’s name to the person on the street and they’re more likely to come up with a litany of woe: corruption, ethnic violence and email scams. As a travel destination, Nigeria seems more a place to avoid than to book a flight to.
Nigeria is a country of extremes. Great wealth and great poverty sit cheek by jowl, and tensions between different communities can boil over into civil strife. While a few parts of the country remain problematic, the vast majority is as warm and welcoming to visitors as anywhere in Africa. Challenging yet exuberant, this is Africa in the raw – there’s nowhere quite like it on the continent.
Geography : Situated on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. Its neighbors are Benin, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. The lower course of the Niger River flows south through the western part of the country into the Gulf of Guinea. Swamps and mangrove forests border the southern coast; inland are hardwood forests.
Capital city : Abuja
Location : West Africa
Area : 923,768.64 Sq.Km
Largest cities : Lagos – 11, 135, 000 (metro area)
Population (2010 est.) : 152,217,341 peoples
Seasons : Wet (April – October in North), Dry (November – March in North, December – February in South)
Currency : Naira (NGN) US$1 = N128
Language : English, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Edo, Efik
Time : GMT +1.00
Religion : Islam 50%, Christian 40% , Traditional Religion 10%
Economy : The Nigerian economy is one of the most developed economies in Africa. The petroleum industry is central to the Nigerian economic profile. It is the 12th largest producer of petroleum products in the world. The industry accounts for almost 80% of the GDP share and above 90% of the total exports
Natural resources : Petroleum, Tin, Columbine, Iron Ore, Coal, Limestone, Lead Zinc, Natural Gas
Government type : Federal Republic
Independence : 1 October 1960
Constitution : The 1999 constitution (based largely on the 1979 constitution) was promulgated by decree on 5 May 1999 and came into force on 29 May 1999.
Subdivisions : 36 states plus Federal Capital Territory (Abuja); states divided into a total of 774 local government areas.
The most populous country in Africa, Nigeria accounts for over half of West Africa's population. Although less than 25% of Nigerians are urban dwellers, at least 24 cities have populations of more than 100,000. The variety of customs, languages, and traditions among Nigeria's 250 ethnic groups gives the country a rich diversity. The dominant ethnic group in the northern two-thirds of the country is the Hausa-Fulani, most of whom are Muslim. Other major ethnic groups of the north are the Nupe, Tiv, and Kanuri. The Yoruba people are predominant in the southwest.
About half of the Yorubas are Christian and half Muslim. The predominantly Catholic Igbo are the largest ethnic group in the southeast, with the Efik, Ibibio, and Ijaw comprising a substantial segment of the population in that area. Persons of different language backgrounds most commonly communicate in English, although knowledge of two or more Nigerian languages is widespread. Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, and Kanuri are the most widely used Nigerian languages.
Other than that, Nigeria has three main environmental regions: savanna, tropical forests, and coastal wetlands. These environmental regions greatly affect the cultures of the people who live there. The dry, open grasslands of the savanna make cereal farming and herding a way of life for the Hausa and the Fulani. The wet tropical forests to the south are good for farming fruits and vegetables—main income producers for the Yoruba, Igbo, and others in this area. The small ethnic groups living along the coast, such as the Ijaw and the Kalabari, are forced to keep their villages small due to lack of dry land. Living among creeks, lagoons, and salt marshes makes fishing and the salt trade part of everyday life in the area.
The Niger and Benue Rivers come together in the center of the country, creating a "Y" that splits Nigeria into three separate sections. In general, this "Y" marks the boundaries of the three major ethnic groups, with the Hausa in the north, the Yoruba in the southwest, and the Igbo in the southeast.
Nigerian architecture is as diverse as its people. In rural areas, houses often are designed to accommodate the environment in which the people live. The Ijo live in the Niger Delta region, where dry land is very scarce. To compensate for this, many Ijo homes are built on stilts over creeks and swamps, with travel between them done by boat. The houses are made of wood and bamboo and topped with a roof made of fronds from raffia palms. The houses are very airy, to allow heat and the smoke from cooking fires to escape easily.
Igbo houses tend to be made of a bamboo frame held together with vines and mud and covered with banana leaves. They often blend into the surrounding forest and can be easily missed if you don't know where to look. Men and women traditionally live in separate houses.
Much of the architecture in the north is heavily influenced by Muslim culture. Homes are typically geometric, mud-walled structures, often with Muslim markings and decorations. The Hausa build
large, walled compounds housing several smaller huts. The entryway into the compound is via a large hut built into the wall of the compound. This is the hut of the father or head male figure in the compound.
There are several of the popular games played in Nigeria which is for the ‘young’ and for the ‘old’. That is:
The 'Ayo board' which basically looks like this and includes 48 seeds. this is a popular board game involving 2 players. The rules for this game are;
• The game starts by placing 4 seeds in each of the 12 cups on the board, and each player sits with 6 of the cups on their side of the board.
• Choose a player to start.
• For each turn, a player chooses a cup, takes all the seeds in that cup (it will the 4 seeds for the first player, but it may be more or less as the game continues), and goes around the board in a counterclockwise direction, planting one seed in each cup as they go.
• If your last seed lands in your opponent's cup, you can capture all the seeds in that cup, and add it to your bank.
The game continues until one player can not move, at which point, the one with the most seeds wins.
Catch your trail
It is a fun outdoor game for kids who involve some running and chasing.
Objective : to catch another team’s ‘tail’.
Equipment : handkerchiefs or scarves and also can mark off the boundaries to indicate the playing area.
No. of players: 4 peoples and above
- The players divided into teams
- Each team forms a chain and the end player (for both ends) of each chain dangles a handkerchief or scarf from their pocket or belt.
- The first person in line leads a team in the chase and tries to catch a ‘tail’ from one of the other teams.
- A team wins when they catch a ‘tail’ from another team.
Jumping the beanbag
Objectives : To be the last player who can jump the beanbag.
Equipment : Rope and beanbag or another sack of some sort.
No. of players : 5 peoples and above
- Tie the rope around the sack, leaving enough rope to swing the sack around.
- Choose a player to be the ‘swinger’ (the ‘swinger’ will need to be able to swing the beanbag around on the ground, either with their foot or with their hand).
- Choose a players form a circle around ‘swinger’
- The ‘swinger’ swings the rope close to the ground
- Each player must jump over it before it reaches them.
- If the rope hits a player, that player is out of the game.
- The game continues until there is only one player left standing and that player is the winner.
Objective : To be the first to get all your pieces ‘home’.
Equipment : The Ludo board
No of players : 2 – 4 peoples
Objective : Trying to recognize your playmates.
Equipment : Sticks, stones, Pebbles, Chalk or anything else that can be used to trace an outline.
No. of players : 3 or above
- One player is chosen as 'it', and that person hides.
- The other players choose a player to be 'baby'
- 'Baby' lies down, and the other players outline him/her with the materials
- 'Baby' rejoin the other players.
- 'It' is called out from hiding, and tries to determine who 'baby' is based on the outline on the ground.
- If 'it' guesses right, he/she gets another turn. Otherwise, another player is chosen to be 'it'.
Playing with seeds
Objective : Try to get the most ‘seeds’
Equipment : 24 seeds which can be nuts or marbles or other roundish objects.
No. of players : 2 peoples
- The 'seeds' are split up so that each player has 12 of them.
- The players face each other, each kneeling behind their own row of 'seeds'
- The first player rolls one of his 'seeds' towards the other player, trying to hit one of their 'seeds'.
- If the first player successfully hits one of the opponent's 'seeds', he/she captures the seed and continues to try.
- If the 'seed' thrown does not hit another 'seed' on the opponent's end, the opponent keeps the 'roller' and then takes his/her turn.
- The game continues until one player has captured all the 'seeds' from the other player.
Objective : To have all the players involved are part of ‘the snake’.
Equipment : none, but can mark off boundaries to indicate the playing area.
No. of Players : 3 or above
- One player is chosen to be the head of the snake.
- This 'snake head' tries to catch another player, and once they do, that other player becomes the 'snake tail' and they hold hands.
- The 'snake head' and 'snake tail' chase the other players, and tagging them from either end, thus making a new head or a new tail as another player is caught.
- The game continues until all the players are part of 'the snake'
Nigerian clothing is unique and attractive. Lace, jacquard, adire, and ankara are some of the materials that are used to prepare dresses in Nigeria. Nigerian clothing for women include buba, kaba, iro, gele and iborun or ipele and Nigerian clothing for men include buba, fila, sokoto, abeti-aja and agbada. Other than traditional attire, the people also wear western attires.
The ethnic diversity of Nigeria is reflected well in its clothing culture. Learn about the various types of Nigerian clothing for men and women. The important materials for Nigerian clothing are - lace, jacquard, adire, and ankara. The people are also fond of tie and die materials.
Nigerian clothing for women
Nigerian dresses for women include baba, kaba, iro, gele and iborun or ipele. Here is what they are used for:
• Buba is a loose blouse that reaches down a little below the waist. Kaba is basically a single-pierce dress which can have different styles.
• Iro is the bottom part of clothing which is a rectangular piece of cloth that is wrapped around the waist.
• Gele is a headgear. It is a rectangular piece of cloth that be tied in different ways to give different looks.
• Iborun or ipele is a scarf that is either tied around the neck or just can be put diagonally across the body.
Nigerian clothing for men
Nigerian dresses for men include buba, fila, sokoto, abeti-aja and agbada. Their details are as follows:
1. Buba is a loose shirt that goes down till halfway down the thighs.
2. Fila is a traditional cap.
3. Sokoto is the pant or trouser, which covers the lower part of the body.
4. Abeti-aja is another type of cap, which has longer sides.
5. Agbada is festive clothing comprising buba and sokoto.
Nigerians put on a range of clothes, which include both traditional and western dressing. They take pride in wearing their traditional attire. Clothing is a significant part of the ceremonies. In the North, Nigerian dresses are primarily worn to work. However, in the south, western attire is more predominant. People wear suits, skirts and blouses, baseball caps and other dresses. On the whole, Nigerian clothing is very unique and interesting.
Nigerian music is extremely vibrant and lively. The popular music of Nigeria are highlife, afrobeat, juju, apala, gospel, sakara, reggae, jazz, hip hop and a lot more. As Nigeria culture is completely multi-ethnic, the music in Nigeria is influenced by a lot of traditions of different tribes. However the most important thing to note here is that, the music has got its roots in the tradition.
Afro rock is a completely string instruments based music. The string instruments include the electric guitars and bass. The blend of Western rock music with the traditional rhythmic patterns of Nigeriana music is absolutely mind blowing. On the other hand, Afrosoul is the perfect mix of American style soul music with the African grooves. Nigerian music is as old as Nigeria itself. The Apala is the music of the 1960s and was practiced by renowned artists.
Fuji gained popularity by the 1970s. Gospel happens to be the most diverse kind of music among all the kinds of Nigerian Music, and exhibits clear Afro-American musical influences.
Highlife is the most popular music among the African Music. Hip hop which has gained world wide popularity in the recent years also enjoys great popularity in Nigeria. The grooves and beats of the hip-hop variation of Nigeria are enjoyed by all. Nigerian music also includes folk songs of the different tribes of the country. The musical instruments of Nigeria have been largely stringed and percussion instruments right from the earlier times
Support for the Arts
Nigerian art traditionally served a social or religious purpose and did not exist for the sake of art per se. For example, dance was used to teach or to fulfill some ritualistic goal. Sculpture was used in blessings, in healing rituals, or to ward off bad luck. With increasing modernization, however, Nigerian art is becoming less oriented to a particular purpose. In some cases, Nigerians have abandoned whole forms of art because they no longer served a purpose. For example, the elaborate tombstones once widely produced by the Ibibio are becoming increasingly rare as Western-style cemeteries are replacing traditional burial grounds.
The government has recognized this decline in Nigerian art. In an attempt to promote Nigerian nationalism through art, it has launched some programs, such as the All-Nigeria Festival of Arts, to revitalize the Nigerian art world. Many wealthy Nigerians looking to recapture their roots, as well as Western tourists and collectors looking for an African art experience, are willing to spend money on Nigerian art. This has led to a slight revival of the art industry.
Nigeria is famous for its sculpture. The bronze work of the ancient cities of Ife and Benin can be found in museums all over the world. These areas in southern Nigeria still produce large amounts of bronze castings. Woodcarvings and terra-cotta sculptures also are popular.
Nigerians are expert dyers, weavers, and tailors. They produce massive quantities of beautiful, rich, and colorful textiles. However, the majority of these are sold primarily for everyday wear and not as examples of art.
Dance and music are perhaps the two most vibrant forms of Nigerian art. Nigerian music is dependent on strong rhythms supplied by countless drums and percussion instruments. Highlife is a type of music heavily influenced by Western culture. It sounds like an Africanized version of American big band or ballroom music. Afro-beat combines African rhythms and melodies with jazz and soul. One of Nigeria's best-known Afro-beat artists, Fela Kuti, was heavily influenced by American artists such as James Brown. Palm wine music gets its name from the palm wine saloons where it is traditionally heard. Its fast-paced, frenzied rhythms reflect the rambunctious nature of many palm wine bars.
Perhaps Nigeria's most popular form of music is juju, which uses traditional drums and percussion instruments to back up vocals and complicated guitar work. Popular juju artists include King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, and Shina Peters.
Food in daily life
Western influences, especially in urban centers, have transformed Nigerian eating habits in many ways. City dwellers are familiar with the canned, frozen, and prepackaged foods found in most Western-style supermarkets. Foreign restaurants also are common in larger cities. However, supermarkets and restaurants often are too expensive for the average Nigerian; thus only the wealthy can afford to eat like Westerners. Most urban Nigerians seem to combine traditional cuisine with a little of Western-style foods and conveniences. Rural Nigerians tend to stick more with traditional foods and preparation techniques.
Food in Nigeria is traditionally eaten by hand. However, with the growing influence of Western culture, forks and spoons are becoming more common, even