Focus on Nigeria: Voices from the African Continent
In the late 15th century, Nigeria was affected by the transatlantic slave trade led by the Portuguese, who initially introduced the Christian religion. In the 18th century, the British replaced the Portuguese as the driving force of the slave trade. Lagos was invaded by British forces in 1851 and formally annexed in 1865. Nigeria became a British protectorate in 1901, and in 1914, the British protectorates of Northern and Southern Nigeria were joined.
On October 1, 1960, the independence movement succeeded in gaining Nigeria's independence from Britain. Nigeria became a republic in 1963 but remained a member of the Commonwealth. In 1966, the Nigerian republic surrendered to military rule. A separatist movement led to the "Republic of Biafra," and the three-year Nigerian Civil war broke out, with over 1 million people losing their lives. Nigeria became a single republic again in 1979, but the military seized power again in 1983. Plans to establish a 3rd republic were dissolved by Nigerian dictator General Sani Abacha in 1993. After his death in 1998, a 4th republic was established in 1999, after almost three decades of military rule.
Nigeria's official name is the "Federal Republic of Nigeria," located on the western coast of Africa. The capital is Abuja, and the largest and most important city is Lagos. Due to its booming economy and large population, it is often referred to as the "Giant of Africa." The country's geography is diverse, with climates ranging from arid to human/equatorial.
With its many languages spoken by various ethnic groups, Nigeria has a very rich and diverse national culture. Nigeria is also known for its English language literature. Nigeria is considered to be the 7th most populous country in the world and the most populous one in Africa, with the world's 3rd highest youth population after China and India.
Primary education, free and compulsory, begins at the age of six and lasts for six years. Secondary education is free and compulsory for three years. There are 400 universities in Nigeria. The population is half urban, half rural. Over 500 languages are spoken by the more than 250 ethnic groups living in Nigeria. English serves as the official language. In addition to English, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fula, and English Creole are widely spoken. Many of these languages exist in written form. Just over 50% of the population are Muslim (mainly in the north), about 48% are Christian of various denominations.
Nigeria is regarded as an emerging global power, due to its oil and natural gas industry, especially in the south of the country. However, Nigeria's rapidly growing population causes several problems, such as poverty, the inability to provide enough food for everyone without having to rely on food imports, and inequality between men and women. Religious tension between the two major groups is rising, and religious fundamentalism can be noticed in both Muslim and Christian communities, a major cause being the uneven distribution of natural resources and hence wealth.
Boko Haram is responsible for numerous attacks and the abduction of school children. The Biafran conflict between the Igbo's and Yoruba's is another challenge faced by Nigeria.