Nigeria

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Nigeria is a country in equatorial West Africa. It is the continent's most populous nation. It has a southern coastline on the Gulf of Guinea, and has Benin to the west, Cameroon to the southeast, Chad to the northeast, and Niger to the north. It is the largest oil producer and third largest economy in Africa. The northern parts of the country may be dangerous due to the influence of an Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.

Population: 174,507,539 people
Area: 923,768 km2
Highest point: 2,419 m
Coastline: 853 km
Life expectancy: 52.46 years
GDP per capita: $2,800
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About Nigeria

History

The pre-colonial era

In the northern part of the country, Kano and Katsina have recorded history which dates back to around 999.

The kingdoms of Ifẹ and Oyo in the western block of Nigeria became prominent about 700–900 and 1400 respectively. The Yoruba mythology believes that Ile-Ife is the source of the human race and that it predates any other civilization. Another prominent kingdom in south western Nigeria was the Kingdom of Benin whose power lasted between the 15th and 19th century. Their dominance reached as far as the well known city of Eko, later named Lagos by the Portuguese.

In southeastern Nigeria the Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people flourished from the controversial date of around the 10th century until 1911 and the city of Nri is considered to be the foundation of Igbo culture.

In addition, Tiv culture in the North central region of Nigeria dates to 6 B.C.. Some of the famous bronze terracota sculpture heads from this culture have been shown around the world.

Colonial era

Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to begin trade in Nigeria, and called the main port Lagos after the Portuguese town of Lagos, in Algarve. This name stuck on with more European trade with the region. The Europeans traded with the ethnicities of the coast and also established a trade in slaves which affected many Nigerian ethnicities. Following the Napoleonic Wars, the British expanded trade with the Nigerian interior.

In 1885 British claims to a West African sphere of influence received international recognition and in the following year the Royal Niger Company was chartered. In 1900 the company's territory came under the control of the British government, which moved to consolidate its hold over the area of modern Nigeria. On January 1, 1901 Nigeria became a British protectorate (northern and southern protectorates) and part of the British Empire. In 1914 the northern protecorate and the southern protectorate under the colonial rule were merged forming one single entity named "Nigeria" (meaning: Niger[river Niger] area. The name "nigeria" was given by the wife of the British Governor-General in charge of the country - Sir Lord Lugard.

Following World War II, in response to the growth of Nigerian nationalism and demands for independence, successive constitutions legislated by the British Government moved Nigeria toward self-government on a representative and increasingly federal basis. By the middle of the 20th century, the great wave for independence was sweeping across Africa.

Post-independence

On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom. As was the habit of colonialists during that era, no attention was paid to the fact that the "protectorates" suddenly and quite chaotically merged hundreds of distinct and autonomous ethnicities, or to the fact that some communities were ripped apart by the sudden construction of boundaries that never existed before. There was never a truly developed sense of singular Nigerian identity. In part, it was this disequilibrium which set the stage in 1966 to several successive military coups. The Northern coup, which was mostly motivated by ethnic and religious reasons, was a bloodbath of both military officers and civilians, especially those of Igbo extraction. The violence against the Igbo increased their desire for autonomy and protection from the military's wrath. By May 1967, the Eastern Region had declared itself an independent state called the Republic of Biafra and the 30 month Nigerian Civil War began. More than one million people died, many of them starving to death.

During the oil boom of the 1970s, Nigeria joined OPEC and billions of dollars generated by production in the oil-rich Niger Delta flowed into the coffers of the Nigerian state. However, increasing corruption and graft at all levels of government squandered most of these earnings. Nigeria re-achieved democracy in 1999 and although the elections which brought Obasanjo to power in 1999 and again in 2003 were condemned as unfree and unfair, Nigeria has shown marked improvements in attempts to tackle government corruption and to hasten development. Ethnic violence over the oil producing Niger Delta region and inadequate infrastructures are some of the current issues in the country.

Climate

Varies; equatorial in the south, tropical in the center, arid in the north. Natural hazards include periodic droughts and flooding. Tornadoes and hurricanes are rare because they typically are weak at this stage and travel west of the Atlantic.

Food

There are many types of traditional cuisine to enjoy. For example: afang soup, okra soup, owo soup and starch in the Niger Delta, plantain (fried, boiled, roasted), pepper soup, amala, eba, efo, pounded yam (iyan - Yoruba for "pounded yam" pronounce " ee-yarn" ), jollof rice, ground nut soup, ogbono soup, isi ewu (goat's head stew), egusi soup, suya (kebab), moin moin, ewedu, gbegiri soup (beans soup), edikangikong, ground-rice, puff-puff, chin chin, ikokore, owerri soup (ofe owerri), which is the most expensive African soup in Nigeria. Not to forget 404 pepper soup - it will make you act like "Oliver Twist." You must realise that 404 means "dog meat." and yes, it can only be found in certain parts of the country because in the west it is seen a barbaric.

For the less adventurous traveller, there are loads of "foreign" restaurants in Lagos, e.g. Sky Bar and the grill at Eco Hotel, Churasco's, Lagoon and Fusion all three next to each other (all-you-can-eat Brazilian grill, Indian and Sushi respectively) with a nice view of the lagoon, Piccolo Mondo, Manuella's Residence (great Italian Pizza from Manuella the Italian lady), Bungalow (close to Coschari's BMW in VI) - good sports bar, grill and Sushi, great Sunday buffet at Radisson Blu. Chocolate Royal is a nice family restaurant with excellent ice cream selection (including ice cream cakes) and pastries in VI. Inside Chocolate Royal is an Oriental restaurant called Métisse. Bottles in VI is a grill and Mexican restaurant. And there are loads more flavours from every corner of the world. Just Google and ask taxi to take you there. Outside Lagos and to a lesser extent Abuja, Western food will tend to disappear, with "Jollof Rice and friend chicken" being a "safe" option if you are not adventurous.

Foreign restaurants are expensive and you can prepare for a bill of at least $50 to $75 or even $100 per head for main course, ice cream and one drink per person. If this is too much, try the Syrian Club in Ikoyi (turn North - away from the water) at the Mobil filling station in Awolowo Road (the night club street) in Ikoyi, continue a few blocks and on your left you will see the Syrian mosque, turn in the gate just after the mosque and the Syrian Club will be on your right on the inside of the premises with nice Lebanese/Syrian flair at very affordable (for Lagos) prices in an outdoor setting.

If you are a new expat living in Lagos, do yourself a favour and acquaint yourself early on with the following more expensive, foreign owned, but well worth-it, smaller specialist shops in VI selling all the delicacies and nice imported red meats that foreigners long for in and that Shoprite, Park and Shop and Goodie's (the main supermarkets) may not stock: 1. Deli's on Akin Adesola (the main road leading to Bar Beach), 2. L'Epicérie across the road from Mega Plaza and 3. La Pointe on Kofo Abayomi Street (close to the Brazilian Embassy/Consulate) and not easy to spot. Knowing these places will significantly improve your coping ability in the first couple of months.

Drinks

  • Nigeria is one of the places where Guinness is brewed outside of Ireland. And they do it pretty well, although it's not the same product. The Guinness brand (with logo and copyrights where they should be) is also used to brew both an alcohol-free malt version of the black stuff, and an extra strong (about 7.5%) version of Guinness in Kenya (in the case of the latter) and Tanzania (in the case of the former).
  • Beer is actually big business in Nigeria, although the move toward evangelism and Islamic law is making its mark. Lagos is relatively unaffected due to its cosmopolitan nature. Heineken, Star, Harp, Gulder and other international beers are available.
  • Malt beverages (non alcoholic) are very common in Nigeria.
  • The other cheap drink of choice is gin, which is locally made. Some locals will swear to it making their step uncle's dog blind, though, so be careful.
  • Never drink the water sold in plastic bags. It probably hasn't been boiled, and may carry some nasty diseases. The bottled water and other soft drinks are safe.

Other drinks to consider include: palm wine, wine, zobo (red soft drink, is a tea of dried roselle flowers), kunun, kai kai (also called ogogoro).

The northern states have implemented Sharia (Islamic) law, which means that alcohol is prohibited. Ironically, the only places where you can drink a beer in these states are the police staff bars and the army barracks, because these are institutions under federal law. Beer is available in Kano, in restaurants managed by foreign or Christian people, Chinese restaurants, and/or French cafes.

For a real night out, go to the Sabongari area of the old town. Plenty of bars around that stay open till very late. Many do decent food as well. Sabongari is also the place to buy alcoholic drinks and there are plenty stores open late into the night. Some hotels in Kano are "dry", however in Tahir Guest Palace the staff will be quite happy to buy you a few bottles of beer for you in your room (all rooms have large fridges).

Shopping

Nigeria's currency is naira (symbol:₦, ISO 4217 code: NGN). In August 2012 the rate was €1=NGN214. Banknotes circulate in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 and inflation typically runs in double figures.

It is advised to cash all your naira back into another currency at the airport before you leave Nigeria. The rate is irrelevant, as the naira is not worth that much outside Nigeria. Naira bills/coins may be of interest to currency collectors, but other than that, they will be nothing more than colourful souvenirs of your trip. Banks will change foreign currency to naira, but usually not the other way around, even though you are a foreigner. You would therefore need to use the Bureaux de Change at the International terminal or the new Domestic terminal or street vendors to get foreign currency should you end up with unused naira at the end of your trip. A safe place to change in Victoria Island is in the tourist market of Eco Hotel in Victoria Island (not the hotel reception which will give you rip-off rates). If the Bureaux de Change at the airport do not want to help or are closed, the car park outside the International terminal is full of street vendors only willing to change money from any major currency. When dealing with these street vendors, keep the money you are buying fully visible until the deal is finished (i.e. don't put into handbag and later discover it is wrong and then try and bargain) and count carefully with them, as they tend to try and short-change you with a note or two, especially when you change foreign currency into naira (which is a thick bundle of small notes), but with necessary vigilance are generally fine. Street vendors are also plentiful at the main land borders to change naira into CFAs (XOF (Benin and Niger side) or XAF (Cameroon side)) if need be. XOF and XAF are freely and easily convertible to and from euros at a rate of 655.957 (sometimes with a small commission) when you are in the French countries.

Changing large bills of US dollars or euros will give a better rate with professional money changers, such as on the currency exchange market near Lagos Domestic Airport. This is a walled enclosure with a large number of money changers, which is primarily used by local nationals.

If you have a VISA card, you can withdraw money from Standard Chartered Bank ATM Machine's in Lagos - Aromire St, off Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja & Ajose Adeogun St in Victoria Island Branch, Abuja and Port Harcourt (in Naira) and ATM Machines of some other banks with "Visa" stickers on them, like GT Bank, UBA, Zenith, etc. This will save you a lot of stress carrying large sums of money and it is secured.

On Abuja and Lagos International Airport money can be withdrawn from ATM machine's. On Lagos International there are several ATM's, several may not function at all times. On Lagos Domestic Terminal there is also a functioning ATM in the domestic terminal on the 1th floor. Usually this a quiet ATM which also is very private and secure.

MasterCard / Maestro users can also withdraw Money from ATMs at several branches of Zenith Bank and GT Bank. Some ATM machines of Ecobank, First Bank and Intercontinental Bank also allow for MasterCard / Maestro cards. Look for the red ATM sign outside, or ask the on-site security officer at any branch. Also look for Ecobank, they have a branch within the premises of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Visa is however a safer option if you are visiting the French countries around Nigeria as well, as MasterCard/Maestro is close to useless in these countries.

Also note that Nigeria is currently on an active drive to become a cash-less society, and as such, more and more hotels, restaurant and shops (all the bigger ones at least) accept major credit cards (VISA being the preferred one - but ask first, there is both "local VISA" and "international VISA" - and MasterCard). Diners Club and Amex are almost universally useless in Nigeria. When paying by card, take the usual precautions (watch how they swipe, don't let the card out of your sight, etc.)

It is advisable that you know where to buy things in advance of your going out. This can save you unnecessary exposure to touts. Nigerian Yellow Pages provides list of businesses, contact addresses and phone numbers and for shops and restaurants, your hotel can give you advise as well. When meeting businesses, the best thing to do is to locate the business, call their representative, who can give you detailed information on how to locate them.

Bargaining

At markets, you are supposed to haggle for your goods (a notable exception is bread: its price is fixed). As a general rule, the real price is about half the price that was first asked. The seller may exaggerate the price when he or she thinks that you are a rich tourist ignorant of the real price. After agreeing on a price, don't walk away without buying, this is considered very rude.

Shops like supermarket and restaurants will typically charge fixed prices. Fresh products and Western-style sit-in restaurants are quite expensive, with it not being uncommon to pay $75 for a dinner per person.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Nigeria on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Nigeria

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Abuja is the capital of Nigeria. Since most Nigerian government agencies are now headquartered in Abuja and most other countries' embassies have been relocated from Lagos to Abuja, it is a surprisingly expensive city.

Interesting places:

  • Nigerian National Mosque
  • National Assembly
  • Abuja Stadium
  • Zuma Rock
  • Aso Rock
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Port Harcourt is a gulf city in the state of Rivers in Southeast Nigeria and is quickly becoming the capital for the blooming oil industry in the country. Most speak English, but Igbo is the dominant language.

Interesting places:

  • Liberation Stadium
  • Sharks Stadium
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Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria. With an estimated population of 8.8 million inhabitants in the city, or rather 10.7 million in the metropolitan area, Lagos ranks second only to Cairo as the largest city in Africa. The UN estimates that at its present growth rate, Lagos state will be third largest mega ... (read more)

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Benin City is one of the oldest cities in Nigeria, dating back to pre-colonial times. It boasts one of the most advanced and organised kingdoms before the arrival of the British. The city used to be the capital of the old Bendel state until this was divided into Edo and Delta. Currently Benin City is the ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Kings Square
  • University of Benin
  • Oba of Benin\'s Palace
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Calabar is the capital city of Cross River State in Southeast Nigeria. It is a charming and quite peaceful city.

Interesting places:

  • Calabar Museum
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Warri is a city in the southwestern part of the Niger Delta, in Nigeria. It has a long history as a major city for crude oil industry in the country.

Interesting places:

  • Warri Stadium
  • Word of Life Church
  • Hussey College
  • Efferun Market

Uyo

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Ibadan is a city in Southwest Nigeria.

Interesting places:

  • University of Ibadan
  • Liberty Stadium
  • Lekan Salami Stadium
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Interesting places:

  • University of Nigeria Nsukka
  • St. Victors Parish Onuiyi
  • St. Paul\'s Cathedral Church
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Points of Interest in Nigeria

  • Lagos: Bar Beach, Badagary Beach, Tarkwa bay Beach
  • Lekki (suburb of Lagos): Lekki Forest Reserve - nice little fenced-off and interesting patch of tropical rainforest with wooden walkways located on the outskirts of the city (ask a taxi to take you to "across from Chevron Oil Company (who financed much of the refurbishment of the forest to look greener) on the Lekki Express Way, just before the second toll gate", as locals tend not to know about the existence of the place, so taxi will probably look at you with a "huh" expression even though he may drive past it daily), Lekki Beach, Eleko Beach
  • Hiking and tourism on the Plateau. Jos:
  • Enugu:Hiking and traditional events e.g. New yam and atiliogwu dancers
  • Calabar: Harbour where you can get boat rides, a nice cinema, sit-out parks and slave monuments in the Marina Resort located in Calabar; also there is Tinapa (the Nollywood studios) a little drive outside the city.
  • Obudu: Small town a few hours to the north from Calabar very close to the Cameroon border - rent a car from Calabar airport (comes with driver) and ask the driver to take you there via Tinapa. This is a cool mountain escape with a nice resort (Obudu Mountain Resort) on the mountain (the president also has a week-end home there). They have some forest walks, hiking, one of the longest cable cars in the world (Austrian built) and very nice pristine swimming pools with fountains available.

Synagogue Church Of all Nations - Lagos

Nigerian National Mosque - Abuja

Liberation Stadium - Port Harcourt

Kings Square - Benin City

Calabar Museum - Calabar

University of Ibadan - Ibadan

Warri Stadium - Warri

University of Nigeria Nsukka - Nsukka

Lagos Motor Boat Club - Lagos

Bar Beach - Lagos

First Baptist Church Abule Egba - Lagos

Ikoyi Golf Club - Lagos

Palms Shopping Mall - Lagos

Lagos City Mall - Lagos

University of Lagos - Lagos

Nigerian National Museum - Lagos

Ezekiel International College - Lagos

National Assembly - Abuja

Teslim Balogun Stadium - Lagos

Abuja Stadium - Abuja

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners
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