Nigeria is likely one of the most well-known countries in Africa and perhaps even the world. Nigeria is also rich in resources and cultural diversity and has a large population. Let's explore the features of this country which many consider being the superpower of the African continent.

Nigeria Nigeria

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Table of contents

    Map of Nigeria

    The Federal Republic of Nigeria is located along the western African coast. It is bordered by Niger to the north, Chad and Cameroon to the east and Benin to the west. The capital city of Nigeria is Abuja, which is located in the central part of the country. Lagos, the country's economic hub, is located along the south-western coast, close to the Benin border.

    Nigeria, Nigeria map, StudySmarterFig. 1 Map of Nigeria

    Climate and Geography of Nigeria

    Two of the most diverse physical aspects of Nigeria are its climate and geography. Let's explore them.

    Climate of Nigeria

    Nigeria has a hot, tropical climate with some variations. There are 3 broad climatic zones. Generally, precipitation and humidity decline as you go from south to north. The three climatic zones are as follows:

    1. Tropical monsoon climate in the south - The rainy season extends from March to October in this zone. There are heavy rains, and the average annual rainfall is usually above 2,000 mm. It even gets up to 4,000 mm in the delta of the River Niger.
    2. Tropical savanna climate in the central regions - In this zone, the rainy season extends from April to September and the dry season from December to March. The average annual rainfall is about 1,200 mm.
    3. Sahelian hot and semi-arid climate in the north - Nigeria's driest zone. Here, the rainy season is the shortest, extending from June to September. The rest of the year is very hot and dry, as this portion of the country is closest to the Sahara desert. The average annual rainfall in this zone is 500 mm-750 mm. Rainfall in this part of Nigeria is variable. Therefore this zone is prone to both flooding and droughts.

    Geography of Nigeria

    Nigeria lies between 4-14o N latitude and 3-14o E longitude, making it north of the Equator and east of the Greenwich Meridian. Nigeria is 356,669 sq miles/ 923,768 sq km, almost four times the size of the United Kingdom! At its widest points, Nigeria measures 696 miles/ 1,120 km from north to south and 795 miles/ 1,280 km from east to west. Nigeria has 530 miles/ 853 km of coastline and comprises the Abuja Federal Capital Territory and 36 states.

    Much like its climate, the topography of Nigeria varies throughout the country. Generally, there are hills and plateaux towards the country's centre, surrounded by plains in the north and the south. The wide valleys of the Niger and Benue rivers are also flat.

    Nigeria, topography Benue River and Benue river valley, StudySmarterFig. 2 - A section of the Benue River

    The most mountainous region of Nigeria is found along its southeastern border with Cameroon. Nigeria's highest point is Chappal Waddi. It is also known as Gangirwal, which means 'Mountain of Death' in Fulfulde. This mountain is 7,963 ft (2,419 m) above sea level and is also the highest point in West Africa.

    Nigeria, Chappal Wadi the highest point in Nigeria, StudySmarterFig. 3 - Chappal Wadi, the highest point in Nigeria

    Population of Nigeria

    Nigeria's current population is estimated at 216.7 million, making it the most populous country in Africa. It also has the 6th largest population in the world. The majority (54%) of the country's population falls within the 15-64 age cohort, while only 3% of the population is 65 years and older. Nigeria's population growth rate is 2.5%.

    Nigeria's population expanded quite rapidly over the past 30 years. It grew from 95 million in 1990 to 216.7 million today (2022). At the current growth rate, it is expected that by 2050, Nigeria will surpass the United States as the third most populous nation on earth, with a population of 400 million. Nigeria's population is expected to increase to 733 million by 2100.

    Nigeria's population consists of over 500 different ethnic groups. Of these groups, the top six by the proportion of the population are listed below (Table 1):

    Ethnic GroupPercentage of Population
    Table 1 - Nigeria's ethnic composition

    Facts about Nigeria

    Now let's look at some interesting facts about Nigeria

    Nigeria's Name

    Nigeria gets its name from the Niger River, which runs through the western part of the country. It has been nicknamed the "Giant of Africa" because its economy is the largest in Africa.

    Capital city

    Lagos, located along the south-western coast of Nigeria, was the country's first capital and remains its largest city, both in terms of size (1,374 sq miles/ 3,559 sq km) and population (approx. 16 million). Abuja is the current capital of Nigeria. It is a planned city in the country's centre and was built in the 1980s. It officially became the capital of Nigeria on December 12, 1991.

    Nigeria, capital city Abuja, StudySmarterFig. 4 - View of the capital of Nigeria, Abuja

    Safety and Security in Nigeria

    There is a relatively high level of crime throughout Nigeria. This ranges from petty crimes such as stealing small sums of money to more serious crimes such as kidnappings. In the northern parts of the country, there is also the threat of Boko Haram, a terrorist group active in Northern Nigeria.

    The Boko Haram terrorist group is most infamous for its April 2014 kidnappings of over 200 girls from their school. After much negotiation between the Nigerian government and the Boko Harem, 103 girls have since been released.

    Economic Development in Nigeria

    Nigeria's economy is the largest in Africa and has been experiencing rapid growth for many years. Although a large proportion of the population of Nigeria has worked in the agricultural sector since the late 1960s, the county has earned the majority (90%) of its income from the petroleum industry. Nigeria is oil rich. The rapid increase in oil prices from 1973 resulted in rapid growth in all sectors of the economy.

    Since the late 1970s, the country has been affected by the fluctuations in the world market price for oil. However, the economy still recorded annual growth rates of 7% between 2004-2014. This growth was partially attributed to the growing contribution of manufacturing and the service industry to the economy. As a result of its massive industrialisation and growth, Nigeria is classified as a New Emerging Economy (NEE).

    Nigeria experienced a recession in 2020 due to the decline in crude oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic. It was estimated that the GDP shrunk by 3% in that year.

    GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product, the total value of the goods and services produced in a country over a year.

    In 2020, Nigeria's total public debt was USD $85.9 billion, about 25% of the GDP. The country was also incurring high debt service payments. In 2021, Nigeria had a GDP of USD $440.78 billion, a 2% increase over its GDP in 2020. This, coupled with the fact that the economy recorded about 3% growth in the first quarter of 2022, shows some signs of rebounding.

    Despite the country's overall wealth, Nigeria still has high poverty levels.

    Nigeria - Key takeaways

    • Nigeria is a Federal Presidential Republic which is located in Western Africa.
    • Nigeria has a hot tropical climate with some regional variations.
    • The geography of Nigeria is very diverse, ranging from mountains to plains to plateaux, lakes and many rivers.
    • At 216.7 million, Nigeria has the largest population in Africa and the sixth-largest population in the world.
    • Nigeria's petroleum-based economy is the largest in Africa and has experienced rapid growth, thereby making the country a NEE.


    1. Fig. 1 map of Nigeria ( by JRC (ECHO, EC) ( Licensed by CC-BY-4.0 (
    2. Fig 3 Chappal Wadi, the highest point in Nigeria ( by Dontun55 ( Licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0 (
    3. Fig. 4 a view of the capital of Nigeria, Abuja ( by Kritzolina ( Licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0 (
    Frequently Asked Questions about Nigeria

    Where is Nigeria?  

    Nigeria is located along the western coast of Africa. It is bordered by Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon

    How many people live in Nigeria?  

    As of 2022, the population of Nigeria is 216.7 million people.

    Is Nigeria a Third World Country?  

    As a result of its massive economic growth, Nigeria is considered a New Emerging Economy (NEE).

    How safe is Nigeria? 

    Nigeria does experience crime. These range from petty theft to terrorist activities. The latter mainly exists in the northern parts of the country, where the Boko Harem terrorist group is active.

    What is the current economic situation in Nigeria? 

    Although Nigeria's economy contracted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is now showing signs of rebounding. The economy experienced a 2% increase in GDP in 2021 which was followed by 3% economic growth during the first quarter of 2022.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    How many climate zones are present in Nigeria?

    What is the size of Nigeria?

    True or False: The highest point in Nigeria is also the highest point in Western Africa.

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    StudySmarter Editorial Team

    Team Nigeria Teachers

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