Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Thursday, July 2, 1998 Published at 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK


Nigeria: Country Profile



With an estimated 103m people Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation.

  • Four ethnic groups - the Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba and Ibos - make up 65% of the population.
  • English is the official language but the ethnic languages are also widely spoken.
  • The main religions are Islam and Christianity.

Oil and debt

Nigeria's economy is heavily dependent on oil, which provides the vast majority of the country's export earnings.

During the 1970s Nigeria experienced high levels of economic growth but its national debt also grew.

After repeatedly negotiating agreements with creditors Nigeria arranged a long-term structural programme with the International Monetary Fund in 1986.

Coups and politics

Nigeria gained independence from Britain on October 1, 1960. Since then its has had 27 years of military rule.


[ image:  ]
In 1964 the fledgling state's first elections were rife with malpractice and violence.

Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Aronsi, an Ibo from the Eastern Region, staged a successful coup in 1966 and formed a Supreme Military Council.

Just six months later he was killed and Lieutenant-Colonel Yakubu Gowon, from the Christian North, seized power.

In 1967 relations between the Eastern Region and the federal government deteriorated.

The military Governor of the Eastern Region, Lt-Col Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, announced their secession and proclaimed its independence as the Republic of Biafra.

Federal forces spent two years quelling the Biafra rebellion. Up to 1m people died mainly from starvation.

But Nigeria has also seen its influence grow with neighbouring countries, most recently in Sierra Leone, where Nigeria helped restore the democratically elected leader.

Since then a series of coups and countercoups have dominated the Nigerian political landscape.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |


Internet Links

Nigeria Media Monitor

Nigeria on the Net

Free Nigeria Movement


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

Special report: Nigeria in transition

Abiola: Millionaire turned politician

Profile: How General Abubakar emerged from the shadows

Obituary: Abacha leader with an iron grip

Abiola's death captures world headlines

Nigeria's ethnic divisions

From Our Own Correspondent

Analysis: What next for Nigeria?

Abacha's uniting shadow