|General background: Following nearly 16 years
of military rule, a new constitution was adopted in
1999, and a peaceful transition to civilian government
was completed. The president faces the daunting task
of rebuilding a petroleum-based economy, whose revenues
have been squandered through corruption and mismanagement,
and institutionalizing democracy. In addition, the OBASANJO
administration must defuse longstanding ethnic and religious
tensions, if it is to build a sound foundation for economic
growth and political stability.
Slightly more than twice the size of California.
Climate: Varies; equatorial in south, tropical
in center, arid in north
lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains
in southeast, plains in north
Ethnic groups: Nigeria, which is Africa's
most populous country, is composed of more than 250
ethnic groups; the following are the most populous
and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%,
Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio
3.5%, Tiv 2.5%
Religions: Muslim 50%, Christian 40%, indigenous
Language: English (official), Hausa, Yoruba,
Igbo (Ibo), Fulani
Government type: Republic transitioning from
military to civilian rule.
Capital: Abuja; note - on 12 December 1991
the capital was officially transferred from Lagos
to Abuja; most federal government offices have now
made the move to Abuja.
Legal system: Based on English common law,
Islamic Shariah law (only in some northern states),
and traditional law.
Economic overview: The oil-rich Nigerian economy,
long hobbled by political instability, corruption,
and poor macroeconomic management, is undergoing substantial
economic reform under the new civilian administration.
Nigeria's former military rulers failed to diversify
the economy away from over-dependence on the capital-intensive
oil sector, which provides 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign
exchange earnings, and about 65% of budgetary revenues.
The largely subsistence agricultural sector has failed
to keep up with rapid population growth, and Nigeria,
once a large net exporter of food, now must import
food. Following the signing of an IMF stand-by agreement
in August 2000, Nigeria received a debt-restructuring
deal from the Paris Club and a $1 billion credit from
the IMF, both contingents on economic reforms. The
agreement was allowed to expire by the IMF in November
2001, however, and Nigeria appears unlikely to receive
substantial multilateral assistance in 2002. Nonetheless,
increases in foreign oil investment and oil production
should push growth over 4% in 2002.
Communication/Telephone system: An inadequate
system, further limited by poor maintenance.
Places of interest: Nigeria is constantly pounding
to the rhythms of traditional African juju music,
Afrobeat and reggae. It's not the most pleasant or
relaxing place to visit, but if you're looking for
a challenge it's the place to be.
Travel tips: Street crime, robberies and muggings
occur throughout the country, often in broad daylight.