27 interesting facts about Nigeria

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The most interesting facts about Nigeria, from the twins capital of the world to Nollywood – the world’s second-largest film industry.

Interesting facts about Nigeria include its surging population
Interesting facts about Nigeria include its surging population (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Federal Republic of Nigeria
Capital city: Abuja
Population: 214,028,302
Area: 923,768 sq km
Major languages: English, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani
Time zone: UTC+1 (West Africa Time)
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Interesting facts about Nigeria

1. Nigeria is located in West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Chad, Cameroon and Benin.
– Source: Britannica

2. Nigeria has been inhabited since at least 9000 BC with fossil remains uncovered by archaeologists in the region dated to that period.
– Source: Britannica

3. Nigeria takes its name from the Niger River that flows through the west of the country to the Atlantic Ocean. It comes from a regional phrase “Ni Gir” meaning “River Gir”
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

Nigerian fisherman on the Niger River
Nigerian fisherman on the Niger River (Shutterstock)

4. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and the world’s 6th most populous.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

5. Nigeria has seen its population surge from 95 million in 1990 to 201 million in 2019. It is set to double again to more than 400 million by 2050 when it will overtake the US as the world’s third most populous country. By 2100, it is expected to rise to 733 million.
– Source: Financial Times, Pew Research Center

6. From around the 11th century onwards, several city-states, kingdoms and empires were formed in Nigeria including the Hausa kingdoms and Borno dynasty in the north and the Oyo and Benin kingdoms in the south.
– Source: BBC News

7. Nigeria has a vertically striped green-white-green flag. The green stands for agriculture and the white for unity and peace.
– Source: Britannica

The flag of Nigeria
The flag of Nigeria (Shutterstock)

8. Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the transatlantic slave trade saw thousands – possibly millions – of Nigerians forcibly sent to the Americas.
– Source: BBC News

9. As well as the five major languages, over 500 additional indigenous languages are spoken in Nigeria.
– Source: CIA World Fact Book

10. Nigeria is home to Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man. With a net worth of over $17 billion in 2021, Dangote owns Dangote Cement, the continent’s largest cement producer.
– Source: Bloomberg

11. Benin City in Nigeria was the centre of the Benin kingdom. Beginning in the 15th century, the kingdom gave rise to the first internationally recognised African art form known as the ‘Benin Bronzes’ (elaborately decorated brass and bronze sculptures).
– Source: British Museum

Ancestral shrine Royal Palace, Benin City, 1891
Ancestral shrine Royal Palace, Benin City, 1891 (Public Domain)

12. In 1897, the city was destroyed by the British and its treasures stolen. The majority of those treasures remain locked in the British Museum in London.
– Source: The Guardian

13. From 1861, Nigeria was part of the British Empire and was known as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria from 1861-1914.
– Source: BBC News

14. In 1960, Nigeria gained complete independence, with Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as its first leader.
– Source: BBC News

15. From 1967 to 1970, the Nigerian Civil War (also known as the Biafran War) was fought between the Nigerian government and the secessionist state of Biafra. At its height, up to 12,000 people a day were dying from starvation. An estimated 1-3 million people were killed during the conflict.
– Source: Independent, CNN

Lagos in Nigeria
Lagos in Nigeria (Shutterstock)

16. Until 1991 Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city in Nigeria, was also its capital. Nigeria moved its capital to the planned city of Abuja in 1991 as Abuja was more centrally located, more politically and ethnically neutral and less congested.
– Source: BBC News

17. Lagos is also Africa’s largest city. In 2012, the population of Lagos surpassed Egypt’s Cairo in size. Its population is estimated to be at least 21 million.
– Source: The Atlantic

18. The Nigerian film industry is known as Nollywood as it produces around 50 movies per week, second only to India’s Bollywood and more than the USA’s Hollywood. It is also Nigeria’s country’s second-largest employer with more than a million people employed in the industry.
– Source: United Nations Africa Renewal

19. The Nigerian town of Igbo Ora is known as the “twins capital of the world” as around 50 sets of twins are born out of every 1,000 births – one of the highest rates of twin births in the world.
– Source: Reuters

Nigeria's twin town
Nigeria’s twin town (Fair Use)

20. As of 2020, Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa with an annual GDP of $476 billion.
– Source: Bloomberg

21. Nigeria has one of the world’s highest fertility rates. As of 2020, an average of 5.4 children are born per woman.
– Source: World Bank

22. Nigeria also has one of the world’s lowest life expectancies. As of 2020, it was 54.3 – the fifth-lowest in the world.
– Source: World Bank

23. The UNESCO-listed Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove is a dense sacred forest dotted with shrines, sculptures and artworks in honour of Osun – the Yoruba people’s goddess of fertility. Many of the sculptures were created by Suzanne Wenger (known locally as Aduni Olosa, the ‘Adored One’), an Austrian painter and sculptor who visited in the 1950s.
– Source: UNESCO, Lonely Planet

Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove
Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove (CC:2.0/CRA-terre)

24. Nigeria is one of the world’s largest oil producers. It has the world’s eighth-biggest oil reserves – almost 37 billion barrels in 2018.
– Source: OPEC

25. Nigeria has also been rated as one of the world’s hungriest countries. The 2020 Global Hunger Index placed Nigeria as the world’s 10th hungriest country.
– Source: Global Hunger Index

26. Nearly 95% of Nigeria’s rainforest has been destroyed. Mongabay described Nigeria’s forests as “some of the most threatened on the planet”. In 1999, the WWF predicted any remaining rainforest in Nigeria would disappear by 2020.
– Source: CNN, WWF, Mongabay

27. Since 2009, jihadist organisation Boko Haram has fought a low-level war against Christian communities and the Nigerian government, killing several thousands of people. Regular attacks continue.
– Source: BBC News, The Guardian

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