The Federal Republic of Nigeria is situated on the Gulf of Guinea in West Africa. Its neighbours are Benin, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. The Federal Capital is Abuja and other major cities include Lagos (commercial capital), Ibadan, Kano, Ogbomosho, Abeokuta, Ilorin and Port Harcourt.
English is the official language in Nigeria, however there are over 250 other languages spoken including Hausa, Yoruba and Ibo. The local currency is the Naira, divided into 100 kobo (US$/N – latest rate).
Nigeria was returned to civilian rule on the 29 May 1999 after many years of military rule, war and civil unrest. Nigeria is still tormented with frequent disruptions of a religious or political nature, however it is struggling to iron out the problems and concentrate on building up the infrastructure.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and also Africa’s leading oil producer. Nigeria’s oil industry is the country’s most important sector in it’s economy, providing over 90% of its total exports and accounting for nearly 50% of it’s gross domestic product (GDP). Nigeria is part of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and is the largest producer of petroleum in Africa. Most of Nigeria’s petroleum production is controlled by Nigeria’s government together with international oil producing companies. This is controlled by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Nigeria’s oil refineries are located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna. Nigeria’s upstream oil industry is the most important and a major source of foreign exchange.
Nigeria’s downstream industry is also under the close control of the NNPC which owns the country’s 4 refineries and has a significant shareholding in all of the larger marketing companies. However, lack of money and widespread corruption has contributed to the current state of disrepair of the downstream infrastructure and is forcing the oil and finance ministries to recognise the logic of reducing direct state involvement in the oil industry.
The economy of Nigeria is mainly agricultural, with more than half of the workforce engaged in farming, most of which is subsistence. The chief crops are sorghum, millet, soybeans, peanuts, cotton, yam, palm products, rice, rubber and cocoa. The leading agricultural exports are palm oil, cocoa, rubber and cotton. There are natural rainforests and these supply mahogany, iron, ebony and other woods. Plantations, sometimes owned by or in partnership with multinational corporations, are gaining ground in producing raw materials for processing.
Industry in Nigeria is largely confined to the processing of agricultural goods and manufacturing consumer goods like soap, clothing, tobacco products and furniture.
Nigeria has a well-developed transport system, though poor maintenance and planning have caused congestion in places, as well as deterioration of services and facilities. Most delivery of goods and passenger travel is by road, however there are railway lines that run from Lagos and Port Harcourt. There are international airports at Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt, and numerous airlines serve the larger centres. The country’s chief seaports are Lagos, Warri, Port Harcourt (which is at the centre of the oil industry) and Calabar. Oil for transport is loaded directly into tankers at the terminals at Port Harcourt and numerous pipelines carry the oil from onshore and offshore fields to the terminals and to refineries and storage areas.
The international time zone for Nigeria is GMT +1 and the international dialing code is +234. All visitors are required to have a visa except for citizens of countries belonging to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Insect-borne diseases are major causes of illness. Many diseases, including yellow fever, are endemic, with only scattered cases being reported. Wear clothing which reduces exposed skin and apply repellents containing DEET to remaining areas.
A yellow fever vaccination is required and cerebral malaria precautions need to be taken in Lagos and the southern coast. The state of health, the current immunisation status, location and the local disease situation lead to risk of contraction of hepatitis A, malaria, yellow fever, typhoid and meningitis.
It is recommended that only bottled water and beverages, or beverages made with boiled water be drunk.