Page last updated at 08:17 GMT, Tuesday, 19 April 2011 09:17 UK

Nigeria country profile

Map of Nigeria

After lurching from one military coup to another, Nigeria now has an elected leadership. But it faces the growing challenge of preventing Africa's most populous country from breaking apart along ethnic and religious lines.

Political liberalisation ushered in by the return to civilian rule in 1999 has allowed militants from religious and ethnic groups to express their frustrations more freely, and with increasing violence.


Thousands of people have died over the past few years in communal rivalry. Separatist aspirations have been growing, prompting reminders of the bitter civil war over the breakaway Biafran republic in the late 1960s.

"Jankara" market, Lagos Island
Politics: People's Democratic Party (PDP) has dominated since the return to civilian rule in 1999.
Economy: Nigeria is Africa's leading oil producer; more than half of its people live in poverty
International: Nigeria plays a prominent role in African affairs; has withdrawn troops from oil-rich Bakassi peninsula to settle border dispute with Cameroon

The imposition of Islamic law in several states has embedded divisions and caused thousands of Christians to flee. Inter-faith violence is said to be rooted in poverty, unemployment and the competition for land.

The government is striving to boost the economy, which experienced an oil boom in the 1970s and is once again benefiting from high prices on the world market. But progress has been undermined by corruption and mismanagement.

The former British colony is one of the world's largest oil producers, but the industry has produced unwanted side effects.

The trade in stolen oil has fuelled violence and corruption in the Niger delta - the home of the industry. Few Nigerians, including those in oil-producing areas, have benefited from the oil wealth.

In 2004, Niger Delta activists demanding a greater share of oil income for locals began a campaign of violence against the oil infrastructure, threatening Nigeria's most important economic lifeline.

Nigeria is keen to attract foreign investment but is hindered in this quest by security concerns as well as by a shaky infrastructure troubled by power cuts.


  • Full name: The Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • Population: 158.2 million (UN, 2010)
  • Capital: Abuja
  • Largest city: Lagos
  • Area: 923,768 sq km (356,669 sq miles)
  • Major languages: English (official), Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa
  • Major religions: Islam, Christianity, indigenous beliefs
  • Life expectancy: 49 years (men), 50 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Nigerian naira = 100 kobo
  • Main exports: Petroleum, petroleum products, cocoa, rubber
  • GNI per capita: US $1,140 (World Bank, 2009)
  • Internet domain: .ng
  • International dialling code: +234


President: Goodluck Jonathan

Goodluck Jonathan inherited the presidency in May 2010 when his predecessor died, and went on to win elections in April 2011.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
Mr Jonathan's rapid rise to power was facilitated by the illness of President Yar'Adua

International observers gave the 2011 elections their general approval. This was in contrast to elections since the end of military rule in 1999 which were widely condemned for state-sponsored manipulation.

However, the announcement of the results was followed by violence in the northern stronghold of his main opponent, General Muhammadu Buhari. The election results revealed a geographical divide, with Mr Jonathan scoring well in the predominantly Christian south, and Gen Buhari sweeping many of the Muslim-dominated northern states.

Mr Jonathan was elected along with Umaru Yar'Adua as his vice-president in 2007, and had to serve as acting president when Mr Yar'Adua's failing health prevented him from working.

Mr Jonathan has expressed his commitment to fighting corruption.

He was born in 1957 in Bayelsa, a state in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Unlike Mr Yar'Adua, a Muslim from northern Katsina state, he is a Christian from the south.

After studying zoology at university, he worked as an education inspector, lecturer and environmental protection officer before going into politics in 1998.

Elected deputy governor of his native Bayelsa state in 1999, he was promoted when the governor was impeached on corruption charges in 2005.

Two years later, he was hand-picked to be Mr Yar'Adua's running mate in the 2007 election, which the ticket won amid allegations of widespread vote-rigging.

A little-known figure in national politics, Umaru Yar'Adua himself was chosen by outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo as his successor, becoming the first civilian to succeed another without an intervening period of military rule.


Nigeria's media scene is one of the most vibrant in Africa. State radio and TV have near-national coverage and operate at federal and regional levels. All 36 states run their own radios, and most of them operate TV stations.

Newspaper stand, Lagos
A lively press includes influential dailies and popular tabloids

Radio is a key source of information. International broadcasters, including the BBC, are popular. However, rebroadcasts of foreign radios are banned.

Private radio and TV stations have been licensed, and there is substantial take-up of pay TV.

Private TVs in particular are dogged by high costs and scarce advertising revenues. Moreover, legislation requires that locally-made material must comprise 60% of output. Viewing is concentrated in urban areas.

There are more than 100 national and local press titles, some of them state-owned. They include well-respected dailies, tabloids and publications which champion ethnic interests. The lively private press often criticises the government.

Press freedom improved under former President Obasanjo, but restrictive decrees remain. "The practice of journalism is punctuated by physical attacks and arbitrary arrests," Reporters Without Borders said in 2009.

By June 2009, 11 million Nigerians were online (Internetworldstats).

The press

  • The Guardian - influential, privately-owned national daily
  • The Champion - Lagos-based daily
  • The Daily Times - Lagos-based government daily
  • The Punch - privately-owned daily
  • New Nigerian - government daily, separate editions in Lagos and Kaduna
  • The Daily Independent - Lagos State-based daily
  • Daily Trust - Abuja-based daily
  • Leadership - Abuja-based daily
  • Vanguard - Lagos-based, widely-read daily
  • This Day - widely-read Lagos-based daily
  • The Daily Sun - Lagos-based
  • Newswatch - weekly news magazine
  • Tell - news weekly


  • Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) - state-run, operates scores of national and regional stations; national services broadcast in English
  • AIT - private, owned by DAAR Communications, broadcasting in Lagos, Abuja and internationally via satellite
  • Minaj TV - private, eastern Nigeria and via cable/satellite
  • Silverbird TV - private, Lagos, Port Harcourt
  • Galaxy TV - private, western Nigeria
  • Channels TV - private


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