10 Interesting facts about Nigeria

10 Interesting facts about Nigeria

Named after the Niger River, the country of Nigeria, nicknamed the “Giant of Africa” is best known for its blooming economy and abundance of diversity. The Nigerian flag, designed by Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi in 1959, is a vertical bicolour triband of green, white and green. The two green stripes representing Nigeria's natural wealth, and the white representing peace.

On 1 October Nigeria celebrate their independence from Britain. To highlight some of their accomplishments and what they are known for we have compiled a list of 10 interesting facts in celebration of Nigeria and their Independence Day.

1)    Independence

 In 1851, the British forces invaded Lagos and by 1901 Nigeria became a British protectorate. The British rule lasted until 1960 when Nigeria finally attained its independence and had Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as their first leader.

Despite becoming independent and becoming a republic, Nigeria has remained a member of the British Commonwealth and in addition is also a member of the African Union.

2)    Cultural diversity

Nigeria is a diverse multi-ethnic country and is made up of over 250 ethnic groupings, with and estimated 60% of people being a part of the three largest ethnicities, the Hausa-Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba. This means there are a total of over 250 different cultures and traditions. The country is rich with a variety of unique art, fashion, cuisines and festivals across the different tribes

 It is also estimated that there are over 500 different indigenous languages spoken across the country. English is their official language, however other major languages spoken in Nigeria include Hausa, Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba as these are some of the largest ethnic groups.

 In addition to the native ethnicities, Nigeria is made up of many immigrants, who usually reside in the major cities and the coastal regions. These include British, Americans, Greeks, Chinese, Indians, Japanese, even Lebanese and Syrians. There is also a small number of Cuban exiles who also settled in Nigeria after having to flee during the Cuban Revolution.

With so many ethnic groups present there are a number of different religions practised in Nigeria too. A little over half of the population (53.5%) are Muslim, 10.6% are Roman Catholic and around 35.3% practice Christianity.

3)    Oil industry

Nigeria is full of an abundance of resources, including oil and gas. The country holds the largest natural gas reserves on the continent, and no other African country produces as much oil and gas, pumping out an estimated 2.53 million barrels a day. This plays a vital role in the country’s economy.

 However, this has come at a price. With up to 13 million barrels of oil having spilled since the 1950s, the oil industry has damaged the country’s ecosystem. An estimated 10% of Nigeria’s mangroves have been wiped out, and the spills have contaminated water supplies in the Niger Delta.

4)    Film & Music industry

The Nigerian film industry (Nollywood) is the second largest in the world with Bollywood being the first. It is estimated that in Nigeria, somewhere between 50 and 200 movies are produced every week! Whist in regard to revenue both Bollywood and Hollywood take the cake, the still impressive revenue generated by the Nigerian film industry means it is the second largest employer in the country, with over a million people employed in the industry.

The country is also a pioneer when it comes to its music which has been significant in shaping Africa's music scene as well as having influence in the contemporary world music.

 West African genres like Afrobeat, highlife, and palm-wine music are extremely popular in Nigeria. Afrobeat, in particular, which blends traditional Nigerian music with American genres like jazz and soul. Artists like Burna Boy, Wizkid, Davido and Tiwa Savage have taken Afrobeat’s to new levels in the western world. Nigeria is also the origin place of the Juju style of music, deriving from traditional Yoruba music blending with Western percussion. This style of music became known worldwide because of musicians like King Sunny Ade.

5)    Africa’s first Nobel Laureate

In 1986 Wole Soyinka was the first black African to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. The playwright is also a prominent social critic and political activist. During the Nigerian civil war, he was arrested and imprisoned after being accused and charge with conspiring with the Biafrans.

 In his life as an accomplished writer he has written a number of memoirs, novels, poems and plays. He has also taught at a number of universities worldwide, including Ife University, Cambridge University, Yale University, and Emory University.

 6)    Population

Nigeria is currently the sixth most populous country in the world. It is home to over 200 million people and has one of the largest populations of youth.

 Whilst Nigeria has a large population if not for the high mortality rates and low life expectancy this number would be higher. Life expectancy on the African continent is generally lower and Nigeria is certainly no exception, with poverty being the main reason for their low life expectancy. Along with a high child mortality rate, some of the poorer young people die from diseases that could have been treated. Citizens also die due to other reasons such as toxic drinking water and diseases like cholera and malaria.

7)    Capital City

Abuja is the capital of Nigeria. Originally Lagos was the capital of Nigeria, but Abuja was built with plans for it to replace Lagos as the capital city. Abuja is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world and has a population of around 6 million people in its metropolitan area. It is the country’s political and administrative centre.

Lagos, however, is Nigeria’s largest and most populous city. With more than 21 million people residing in the city, it is one of the most populated cities in the world and has been dubbed "Africa's Big Apple," in reference to New York City.

8)    Richest Man in Africa

 Nigeria is known to be home to the richest man in Africa, Aliko Dangote. Born in Kano, he established The Dangote Group in 1977. His business interest in agriculture, banking, cement, manufacturing, salt and sugar mean that he now has a net worth of over 12 billion USD and was included on the Forbes list of the 100 richest people in the world. 

9)    Economy

Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa, which is largely due to its export market. Even though around 70% of the country’s employment is in their agricultural industry, their crude oil products make up more than 90% of the country’s exports. By 2050 Nigeria is projected to rank among the world's top ten economies. 

However, despite its large economy, Nigeria is also one of the world’s hungriest countries, as according to the 2020 Global Hunger Index, Nigeria is the 10th hungriest country in the world.

10) Twin capitol

The town of Igbo-Ora is known as Nigeria’s home of the twins and the twin’s capital of the world. There are around 50 sets of twins born per 1,000 births, making it one of the highest rates of twin births in the world. The local people believe their high twin birth rate is due to their consumption of yams and okra leaves. Some fertility experts believe that certain yams contain a natural hormone that may cause multiple ovulation. However, there is little scientific evidence for this.

In Yoruba culture each of the twins receives a specific name, either Taiwo, meaning “the first to taste the world”, or Kehinde meaning the “the second born of twins”. And though Taiwo is the firstborn, it is believed that Kehinde is the elder twin.

Bonus Fact - UNESCO world heritage sites

Nigeria has two remarkable UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Sukur Cultural Landscape and the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove. The Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa features the Palace of the Hidi (Chief) on a hill with the villages below. There are terraced fields, sacred symbols and remains of a once flourishing iron industry.  

The Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove in Osun is a dense forest on the outskirts of the city of Osogbo and is one of the last remnants of primary high forest in southern Nigeria. The river that runs through the grove is strewn with sanctuaries, shrines, sculptures and art works in honour of Osun and other deities as the grove is considered to be the abode the Yoruba goddess of fertility, Osun.


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