There are numerous facts you did not know about Nigeria. This country that has everything it takes to be a world leader in economics and culture. Nigeria is a country with an abundance in natural and human resources, and a population that is the most significant on the continent.
In fact, Nigeria is the most mentioned African country in Europe and America- a testament of the impact the country is making on the international scene. This naturally makes the country a curiosity, people want to know more about Nigeria.
This is a collection of facts about Nigeria, to satisfy the curious mind.
50 Did You Know Facts About Nigeria
Nigeria Is Located In West Africa
Nigeria is located in West Africa, and has the influences of North Africa, as well as those of the native traditions of West Africa. In fact, Nigeria is one of the countries with strong traditional institutions on the continent.
Nigeria Has An Extensive Coastline
Nigeria has the longest coastline in West Africa; stretching from Oron to Ikot Abasi- which is 129 kilometers. Aside from that, Nigeria is blessed with a wide coastline leading to the formation of several port cities.
Nigeria Has A Huge Population
Nigeria has a huge population; the official figure is 230 million, but there are several other estimates ranging from 150 million to 250 million. By official estimates, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the sixth most populous country in the world.
Nigeria’s Population Is Unique
Nigeria is made up of 400 different tribes and languages. This is unique in the world, there is no country with a greater amount of cultural and linguistic diversity. However, there are regional languages belonging to the three major tribes in the country. They are Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba, and they are widely spoken in the north, east, and west respectively.
English Speaking Country
Nigeria is an English speaking country; it was colonized for a century by the British. Nigeria also recognizes French as an official language, although not many people speak it. Most Nigerians speak pidgin, an English speaker can understand pidgin if he listens well.
Fairly Tall Mountains
The highest point in Nigeria is the Chabbal Waddi (Mountain of Death), which is located in the Mambilla Plateau. It measures 2,419 m (7,936 ft), making it one of the highest peaks on the continent, although it is about half the height of the tallest peak in Africa.
First Europeans In Nigeria
The first Europeans in Nigeria were the Portuguese. They established trade with the Benin Kingdom, as well Lagos, and other civilizations around the coast. Today, Nigerians still use many Portuguese words such as Pikin and Sabi. Furthermore, Nigeria’s largest city is Lagos, and that name was given by the Portuguese.
No nation in Africa has seen a larger number of Coup d’état than Nigeria which has 6. Other African countries with 6 coups include Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Uganda and Mauritania.
Many people have been led to believe that Nigeria is roughly divided along religious lines, with the South being a Christian majority, while the north being a Muslim majority. That is actually not true. Osun, Lagos, Ondo and Oyo are southern states with Muslim majorities, while Benue, Nasarawa and Plateau are northern states with Christian majorities.
Different Precolonial Systems
Before the British Colonial Powers arrived, Nigeria was divided into several different kingdoms and civilizations. The north and southwest were mostly ruled by kings, while the South East had mostly parliamentary systems in which the decisions were made by the Elders.
Ilorin As A Cultural Melting Pot
One of the biggest examples of cultural integration in Nigeria is Ilorin in Kwara State. Oba Afonja enlisted Fulani Warriors to help him rebel against the Oyo Empire. The warriors were effective, and Ilorin became a different civilization. However, the Fulani warriors took over Ilorin and their leader became the Emir.
Now both the Fulani and Yoruba live together in Ilorin.
The Benin Kingdom Was Impressive To Europeans
The Portuguese who visited Benin were impressed by what they saw. Lourenco Pinto, captain of a ship that did Christian related expeditions, described Benin kingdom. He wrote: ‘Great Benin where the king resides is larger than Lisbon, all the streets run straight and as far as the eyes can see….’ He also describes that the streets were lit at night, and that the society was organized.
Benin Was A Walled City
Among the impressive things seen by the Portuguese was the Great Benin wall, which was described as an impressive earth wall encircling the ancient city. Guinness Book of Records names it as one of the world’s largest man-made structures by length. It is only surpassed by the Great Wall of China.
Ancient Benin Was Highly Developed
Benin Kingdom was a treasure trove: The highly sophisticated bronze works of the Ancient Benin Kingdom are scattered all over Europe and America. They were carted away by the British who looted Benin after a war.
These works date as far back as the 13th century, and they are made of iron, bronze, wood, ivory, and terra cotta. They remain iconic highlights of the Benin Empire.
The Oldest Boat In Africa
The Dufuna canoe holds the record of being the oldest canoe in Africa, and one of the oldest in the world. Radiocarbon dating puts it at 8500 years old. It is one of the oldest archaeological discoveries in Africa, and proves that the area was inhabited since prehistoric times.
The Sea Was Life
Closer to our present time, research has shown that what is now Kebbi state was the site of a thriving culture that did much seafaring. The Sorko Sea lords as they are known, made ships (called Kanta) which were used to sail to faraway lands. This was around 1311 AD at the height of the Songhai Empire.
The Kanem Empire Was Rich And Advanced
One of the kingdoms of precolonial Nigeria was the Kanem Borno Empire. This was a warrior clan with good tastes in cattle and horses. The empire became famous in North Africa when in 1246 AD the Kanemi king sent a giraffe to Al-Mustapha, king of Tunis as a gift.
Precolonial Nigeria Had A Writing System
The Ejagham (Ekoi) people in the Southeast of Nigeria developed a writing system called the Nsibidi (Nsibiri) writing system. From their location in Cross River state, the writing system spread to the Efik, Igbo, Ibibio, Banyang, Efut and Annag peoples.
There Is A Nigerian Chief In Ghana
Chief Brimah was coroneted in 2009 to serve as a chief in the palace of the King of the Asante people in Accra, Ghana. His family has a long history in Ghana, although he is from the southwest (Yoruba) in Nigeria.
Nigeria Loves Trade
Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) is Nigeria’s biggest trade partner in Africa. Ivory Coast is located along the West African coastline, and is similarly important. It is a French speaking country.
A warrior queen of precolonial Zazzau in modern day Zaria, Kaduna state. She fought many wars which were mostly to keep invaders away from her kingdom.
Another warrior queen was Magajiya Maimuna of Zaria. One of her notable acts was the conquest of Kumbwada.
Nigerian Queen Today
Interestingly, Kumbwada which was conquered by Magajiya Maimuna of Zaria is still ruled by a Queen today. This is the 6th generation of rule by a woman; it is said that there is a throne curse that kills of any men who attempt to sit on the throne.
Nigerians Have Elaborate Weddings
Nigerians value marriage. In fact marriage is a great occasion in Nigeria. Some parts of the country practice polygamy, while in the south marriages are mostly monogamous. Nigerians love to party, and weddings are the perfect excuse for lavish celebrations.
Most Traveled In World
Nigerians are the most traveled people in the world. It is said that there is a Nigerian in every country in the world, and that there are Nigerians doing business in any viable city. People commonly say that “if you do not find a Nigerian, then it must be a bad place to stay.”
Richest Black Man
Nigeria’s Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the Dangote Group is the richest black man in the world, and one of the richest men in Africa. His business empire includes petroleum, cement, flour, transportation, and production of various food items.
Sadly, Nigeria has ranked consistently among the most corrupt countries in the world for more than 20 years. This is a result of the massive looting of the resources by politicians, and other public office holders.
Poverty Is Rife
Nigeria has the 4th highest number of poor people in the world. Around 100 million people are living on less than $1 per day. A large section of the country is classified as ‘destitute.’
The naira was once stronger than the dollar; a dollar was 90 kobo at the beginning of President Babangida’s term in 1985. Since then a series of loans, devaluations, and corruption has led to the near collapse of the currency.
The Borno Empire Accepted Technology
Idrîs Aloma (1571-1603) King of Kanem-Bornu traveled on a pilgrimage to the holy lands, through the desert. On that journey he came across firearms. He brought some of those firearm as well as Ottoman Turks to train his soldiers on how to shoot them.
Travel Without Visa
Travel Visa was not required Nigerians going to visit the UK until 1984. That explains why there are so many Nigerians in the UK today, and many of them have prominent positions in politics, academics, business and the media.
World War II
Many Nigerians fought along with the British and other allied Forces during World War II. They constitute what is now known as the forgotten army.
Nigerians Rejected Slavery
Many scholars have been forced to admit that despite the prevalence of slavery, the people of Nigeria did not willingly accept it. In fact, in 1918, 30,000 Abeokuta Ebga warriors rose up against the colonial government. They were fighting against colonization, taxation and slave labor. There were casualties on both sides before the rebellion was put down.
During the heat of Apartheid, Nigerians actively supported the ANC as it fought to liberate black South Africans. Notable for their support were MKO Abiola who generously donated money, and Mbazulike Amaechi who hid Nelson Mandela for 6 months in Nigeria to evade capture.
Great Movie Industry
The Nigerian film industry is second only to the Indian film industry in the number of films it produces every year. The Nigerian movie industry is called Nollywood.
Nigeria has a great music industry which has produced several legendary performers over the years. Some of the most notable include Fela Kuti, Sunny Ade and Osita Osadebe. Instruments are a key part of Nigerian music; some of the popular flavors of music include Afrobeats, Highlife, and now Afropop.
Any visitor travelling to Nigeria should be prepared to eat spicy foods. Most Nigerian soups and stews are garnished with pepper making them very hot. Although big restaurants can often have alternatives to this. Visitors who do not like spicy foods will have to make it known beforehand.
Varied Weather Conditions
The weather is generally hotter in the arid north of the country, with the south being generally cooler on account of cold air blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean. It usually rains from April to November, and then the other half of the year is dry. The middle belt, including high ground like plateau state is usually cool.
Brazilians In Nigeria
There are communities of former slaves who fled Brazil and landed in Nigeria. They celebrate their heritage, and have been completely assimilated into the Nigerian society. They can mostly be known by their names like Da Silva, La Rocha, and Da Costa.
Nigeria is the King of Afrobeat
Afrobeat is the new cool. Foreign artistes are in recent times infusing Afrobeat sounds into their songs, making it one of the most listened songs today. This is a genre of music that was introduced in the 60s but has now gain prominence and acceptance all around the world.
Nigeria Has The Highest Number of Migrants in Africa
This is simple and clear, with the rising population, Nigerians are naturally hardworking people. They have been known to dominate any environment they find thenselves. Seeking for greener pastures is part of an average Nigerian which is why citizens migrate to other countries for better education in a bid to build a legacy back home in Nigeria.
Richest Black Woman In Africa
It is no news that a Nigerian woman currently occupies the number 1 position of the Richest Woman in Africa.
Nigerians Can Travel to 25 countries without Visa
Nigerians have access to 25 countries without visa mostly within Africa.
In summary, these are facts about Nigeria, many of which are not commonly known. There is so much more to learn about Nigeria, but not enough time or space. The best way to learn more about Nigeria is to engage a Nigerian in conversation. Nigerians are everywhere; happy learning.