Nigeria is in West Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Benin and Cameroon. The capital of Nigeria is Abuja.
Benin 773 km, Cameroon 1,690 km, Chad 87 km, and Niger 1,497 km
Nigeria's size is 923,768 sq km, slightly more than twice the size of California in the US. The terrain is mixed with southern lowlands merging into central hills and plateaus. There are mountains in the southeast, and plains in north. The climate varies with equatorial weather in south, tropical in the center, and arid in north. The lowest point in Nigeria is the Atlantic Ocean at 0 m. The highest point is Chappal Waddi at 2,419 m. Nigeria is home to one of Africa's most important rivers, the Niger, which enters the country in the northwest and flows southward through tropical rain forests and swamps to its delta in the Gulf of Guinea.
Just over 135 million people live in Nigeria, making it the most populated country in Africa. Life expectancy is around 47 years. Birth rate is on average 5.45 per woman. Literacy rate is just over 68%.
English (the official language), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani. French is also widely spoken especially among traders with Nigeria's neighbors.
Nigeria 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%, and Tiv 2.5%.
Muslim 50%, Christian 40%, and indigenous beliefs 10%.
British influence and control over what would become Nigeria grew through the 19th century. A series of constitutions after World War II granted Nigeria greater autonomy; independence came on October 1st, 1960. Following nearly 16 years of military rule, a new constitution was adopted in 1999, and a peaceful transition to civilian government was completed. The government faces the daunting task of reforming a petroleum-based economy, whose revenues have been squandered through corruption and mismanagement, and institutionalizing democracy. In addition, the defusing longstanding ethnic and religious tensions are a priority if Nigeria is to build a sound foundation for economic growth and political stability. Although the April 2003 elections were marred by some irregularities, Nigeria is currently experiencing its longest period of civilian rule since independence. General elections in April 2007 were considered significantly flawed by Nigerian and international observers but they marked the first civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the country's history. President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua took office on 29 May 2007.
Oil-rich Nigeria, long hobbled by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and poor macroeconomic management, is undertaking some reforms under a new reform-minded administration. Nigeria's former military rulers failed to diversify the economy away from its overdependence 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 - Nigeria is Africa's most populous country - and the country, 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 contingent on economic reforms. Nigeria pulled out of its IMF program in April 2002, after failing to meet spending and exchange rate targets, making it ineligible for additional debt forgiveness from the Paris Club. In the last year the government has begun showing the political will to implement the market-oriented reforms urged by the IMF, such as to modernize the banking system, to curb inflation by blocking excessive wage demands, and to resolve regional disputes over the distribution of earnings from the oil industry. In 2003, the government began deregulating fuel prices, announced the privatization of the country's four oil refineries, and instituted the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy, a domestically designed and run program modeled on the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility for fiscal and monetary management. In November 2005, Abuja won Paris Club approval for a debt - relief deal that eliminated $18 billion of debt in exchange for $12 billion in payments - a total package worth $30 billion of Nigeria's total $37 billion external debt. The deal requires Nigeria to be subject to stringent IMF reviews. GDP rose strongly in 2006, based largely on increased oil exports and high global crude prices.
Source: CIA World Factbook