• LOCATION: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Benin and Cameroon.
  • AREA: Total: 923,768 sq km; land: 910,768 sq km; land: 910,768 sq km.
  • NATURAL RESOURCES: Natural gas, petroleum, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc, arable land.
  • CLIMATE: Varies; equatorial in south, tropical in center, arid in north.
  • COASTLINE: 853 km.
  • LAND BOUNDARIES: Total: 4,477 km; Border Countries (4): Benin 809 km; Cameroon 1,975 km; Chad 85 km; Niger 1,608 km.
  • TERRAIN: Southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in southeast, plains in north.
  • MAJOR LAKES (area sq km): Fresh water lake(s):Lake Chad (endorheic lake shared with Niger, Chad, and Cameroon) – 10,360-25,900 sq km.
    note – area varies by season and year to year.
  • MAJOR RIVERS (by lenght in km): Niger river mouth (shared with Guinea [s], Mali, Benin, and Niger) – 4,200 km. The Niger River enters the country in the northwest and flows southward through tropical rain forests and swamps to its delta in the Gulf of Guinea.
    note – [s] after country name indicates river source; [m] after country name indicates river mouth.
  • POPULATION DISTRIBUTION: Largest population of any African nation; significant population clusters are scattered throughout the country, with the highest density areas being in the south and southwest as shown in this population distribution map.
  • NATURAL HAZARDS: Periodic droughts; flooding.



In ancient and pre-colonial times, the area of present-day Nigeria was occupied by a great diversity of ethnic groups with different languages and traditions. These included large Islamic kingdoms such as Borno, Kano, and the Sokoto Caliphate dominating the north, the Benin and Oyo Empires that controlled much of modern western Nigeria, and more decentralized political entities and city states in the south and southeast. In 1914, the British amalgamated their separately administered northern and southern territories into a Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. Nigeria achieved independence in 1960 and transitioned to a federal republic with three constituent states in 1963 under President Nnamdi AZIKIWE. This structure served to enflame regional and ethnic tension, contributing to a bloody coup led by predominately southeastern military officers in 1966 and a countercoup later that year masterminded by northern officers. In the aftermath of this tension, the governor of Nigeria’s Eastern Region, centered on the southeast, declared the region independent as the Republic of Biafra. The ensuring civil war (1967-1970), resulted in more than a million deaths, many from starvation. While the war forged a stronger Nigerian state and national identity, it contributed to long-lasting mistrust of the southeast’s predominantly Igbo population. Wartime military leader Yakubu GOWON ruled until a bloodless coup by frustrated junior officers in 1975. This generation of officers, including Olusegun OBASANJO, Ibrahim BABANGIDA, and Muhammadu BUHARI, continue to exert significant influence in Nigeria to the present day. Military rule predominated until the first durable transition to civilian government in 1999. The general elections of 2007 marked the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the country’s history. National and state elections in 2011 and 2015 were generally regarded as credible. The 2015 election was also heralded for the fact that the then-umbrella opposition party, the All Progressives Congress, defeated the long-ruling (since 1999) People’s Democratic Party, and assumed the presidency, marking the first peaceful transfer of power from one party to another. Presidential and legislative elections in 2019 and 2023 were deemed broadly free and fair despite voting irregularities, intimidation, and violence. The government continues to face the daunting task of institutionalizing democracy and reforming a petroleum-based economy, whose revenues have been squandered through decades of corruption and mismanagement. In addition, Nigeria faces increasing violence from Islamic terrorism, largely in the northeast, large scale criminal banditry focused in the northwest, secessionist violence in the southeast, and competition over land and resources nationwide.


  • POPULATION: 230,842,743 (2023 est.) Largest population of any African nation; significant population clusters are scattered throughout the country, with the highest density areas being in the south and southwest as shown in this population distribution map.
  • ETHNIC GROUPS: Hausa 30%, Yoruba 15.5%, Igbo (Ibo) 15.2%, Fulani 6%, Tiv 2.4%, Kanuri/Beriberi 2.4%, Ibibio 1.8%, Ijaw/Izon 1.8%, other 24.9% (2018 est.)
    note: Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups.
  • LANGUAGES:     English (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani, over 500 additional indigenous languages.
  • RELIGIONS: Muslim 53.5%, Roman Catholic 10.6%, other Christian 35.3%, other 0.6% (2018 est.)
  • MAJOR INFECTIOUS DISEASES: degree of risk: very high (2023)
    Food or waterborne diseases: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
    Vectorborne diseases: malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever
    Water contact diseases: schistosomiasis
    Animal contact diseases: rabies
    Respiratory diseases: meningococcal meningitis
    Aerosolized dust or soil contact diseases: Lassa fever