Constitutional Developments in Nigeria: An Analytical Study of Nigeria's Constitution-Making Developments and the Historical and Political Factors That Affected Constitutional Change

By Kalu Ezera | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
PHYSICAL, CULTURAL AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

CLIMATE AND PHYSICAL FEATURES

Situated at the eastern corner of the Gulf of Guinea on the west coast of Africa, Nigeria is the largest country in the British colonial empire. It has an area of 373,2501 This includes the area of the Cameroons under United Kingdom trusteeship. square miles -- about five times the size of the United Kingdom. It is bounded on the west and north by French territory, on the east by the Cameroons and on the south by the Atlantic ocean. The greatest length of Nigeria from east to west is over 700 miles and its greatest width from north to south, over 650 miles, and the coastline is over 500 miles in length.2

Owing to its large size, Nigeria presents a representative crosssection of the main physical characteristics of West Africa. Along the eastern coastline of the country lies a belt, from 10 to 60 miles in width, of mangrove swamp forest intersected by rivers and creeks. North of this region is a zone of tropical rain forest and oil- palm bush which stretches inland in width for some 100 miles. Beyond this zone the vegetation changes from open woodland to grass savannah as the elevation changes. There are very few mountain ranges except the Cameroons mountain along the eastern boundary and the central high plateau which rises over 6,000 feet above sea level.

Perhaps the most important physical feature of Nigeria is the river from which the country takes its name. The River Niger enters the territory from the north-west and is joined by its principal tributary, the Benue, at Lokoja, about 340 miles from the sea. From here it flows southward into the Delta area before emptying into the Atlantic ocean. In spite of the length and width of this great river, it has not been a great commercial waterway for trade

____________________
1
Colonial Reports (Nigeria) 1953, London, 1954, p. 126.
2
A. C. Burns, History of Nigeria, 3rd ed. London, 1942, p. 22.

-1-

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