S. T.C. Ilechukwu
Nigeria is located on the Atlantic coast of West Africa and has a land area of 356,669 square miles (923,768 square kilometers). Nigeria is bordered by Benin on the west, Niger and Chad on the north, and Cameroon on the east. The capital city of Lagos is now being replaced by Abuja as the administrative capital. The climate is determined primarily by distance from the ocean and secondarily by elevation and varies from tropical to arid.
The 1992 census indicated a population of 88.5 million. Annual population growth is 3.3 percent. The rural/urban population ratio is estimated at 80/20. About 250 different ethnic groups live in Nigeria. The four largest ethnic groups, which together account for more than 60 percent of the total population, are Fulani and Hausa of the north, the Ibo, who are predominant in the southeast, and the Yoruba, who are in the southwest. The Edo, Ibibio, Kanuri, Nupe, Tiv, Chamba, Ekoi, and Ijaw are smaller but still politically important groups. Other groups are quite small.
Life expectancy is forty-eight years, and the infant mortality rate is 135 per 1,000. The physician/population ratio is 1 per 12,550.
English is the official and most widely spoken language, but outside the south and the cities is little understood. Each ethnic group has its own language, and the language of larger ethnic groups may have up to 200 dialects.
Islam, introduced from the north during the fourteenth century, claims 47 percent of all Nigerians and is the dominant religion in the north. Christianity, claiming about one-third of the population, is dominant in the south, and the remaining 18 percent hold traditional religious beliefs.
There is an adult literacy rate of 42 percent. Six years of primary education are free and compulsory. Secondary school (six years) is also free in the majority