While celebrating the independence of our great country NIGERIA, here are a few things you need to know about this great country. Nigeria is a West African country that borders the Chad republic and Niger on the north, the Atlantic Ocean on the south, Benin republic on the west, and Cameroon on the east.
The country’s terrain changes from the Niger Delta that is oil-rich in the southern part to the savanna-covered high plateaus found in the north. Down towards the coast is the rain forest belt region. In spite of some minor political instabilities and the insecurity witnessed in Nigeria, there are several interesting facts about Nigeria that are worthy of mention.
Here are some remarkable and interesting facts about Nigeria that all Nigerian students should know.
1. Africa’s Most Populated Country
With a population of over 160 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country, as well as the 8th most populated in the entire world. This means that for every seven Africans, one is a Nigerian. Ethiopia is the next African nation to come close, whose population count of 84 million is merely about half that of Nigeria.
2. Over 250 Ethnic Groups
One interesting fact about Nigeria is her multi-ethnicity. Nigeria boasts of over 250 ethnic groups and tribes. However, three tribes are the most dominant, namely, the Igbo that makes up 18% of the population, the Yoruba that makes up 21% and the Hausa-Fulani the largest one with 29%.
3. Main Religions are Islam and Christianity
In Nigeria, the main religions are Christianity and Islam. The country is divided roughly into two religious organisations, with the south having almost exclusively Christians, and the north having Muslims. The Igbo’s found in the southeast are mainly Christians, while the Hausa-Fulani inhabiting northern Nigeria are mainly Islams. In addition, southern Nigeria is more urbanized and westernized when compared to the north.
4. Derived Name from West Africa’s Longest River
Nigeria derives her name from river Niger, which is the largest and longest river in West Africa. The river covers a distance of about 2,600 miles (4,180 km) from its source in the Highlands of Guinea, inside south-eastern Guinea. It follows its course in a crescent through Niger, Mali, along the border with Benin, then getting into Nigeria. The river eventually empties its water into the Atlantic Ocean via the Gulf of Guinea after passing through a huge delta referred to as the Niger Delta.
5. One of Human Existence’s Oldest Locations
According to evidence from archaeological sites and discoveries, Nigeria has a history of human existence that has been dated back as far as 9000 BC. The Nok civilization is the earliest civilization in the country, which took place around 500 BC up to 200 AD.
6. Home of Nollywood – Nigeria’s Movie Industry
Nollywood is a term used to refer to the Nigerian movie industry. Recently, it has been ranked as the second largest movie industry in the world, coming second only to the Indian film industry called Bollywood, and ahead of America’s Hollywood. Every single week, about 200 Nollywood movies are produced, and since 2005, they have won half of the yearly African awards for best picture.
7. Largest Butterfly Diversity
Nigeria boasts as being the most appropriate habitat of the largest diversity in the world of butterflies, the most colourful creatures. The areas that surround Calabar, Cross River State, located in the country’s southern region, are widely believed to harbor the largest diversity of butterflies in the world.
8. Number of Universities in Ogun State
Ogun State is one of the states located in the western part of Nigeria. It has a total of nine registered universities, making it the state with the highest number of such institutions of higher learning in the country.
9. Africa’s Longest Bridge
Measuring about 11.8 kilometers, the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State is Africa’s longest bridge, and it connects Lagos Island with the mainland. It begins from Oworonshoki that is linked to the Lagos-Ibadan express way and the Apapa-Oshodi express way, ending at the Adeniji Adele interchange found in Lagos Island. Midway across the bridge, there is also a link leading to the Herbert Macaulay Way at Yaba. This bridge was constructed by Julius Berger Nigeria PLC, and officially opened in 1990 by the then President Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida.
10. One of the Largest Producers Of Crude Oil
This seems to be one of the most recognized Nigerian fact. Nigeria is the world’s 12th largest crude oil producer and also the 8th largest exporter, producing on average 2,525,000 barrels daily. The country also has the 10th largest proven petroleum reserves worldwide. Oil plays a vital role in the nation’s economy, contributing to over 85% of the entire government revenue. This seems to be one of the most widely recognized Nigerian fact.
11. Nigeria is home to seven percent (7%) of the total languages spoken on earth.
Nigeria is home to seven percent (7%) of the total languages spoken on earth. Taraba state alone has more languages than 30 African countries. The importance of this fact is appreciated when one understands that language is the “soul of culture” (as Ngugi wa Thiongo famously said). It is language that births the proverbs, riddles, stories and other aspects of culture that give us identity. UNESCO puts forward that the world’s languages represents an extraordinary wealth of creativity. Linguistic diversity correlates with cultural diversity. This means Nigeria can look inwards and drive itself to become the greatest hub for cultural tourism on earth, and consequently empower its citizens tremendously in the process.
12. The Walls of Benin (800-1400AD)
The Walls of Benin (800-1400AD), in present day Edo State, are the longest ancient earthworks in the world, and probably the largest man-made structure on earth. They enclose 6500 square kilometers of community lands that connected about 500 communities. At over 16000km long, it was thought to be twice the length of the Great Wall of China, until it was announced in 2012 (after five years of meticulous measurement by Chinese surveyors) that the Great Wall is about 21,000km long.
13. The Yoruba tribe has the highest rate of twin births in the world.
Igbo-Ora, a little town in Oyo state, has been nicknamed Twin capital of the World because of its unusually high rate of twins that is put as high as 158 twins per 1000 births. In a video I watched last year on YouTube presented by Titi (a white lady who speaks Yoruba), and which was centred on twin births in Igbo-Ora, one of the locals boasted that every family in the town has at least one twin!
14. Sarki Muhammad Kanta The Great of Kebbi
Sarki Muhammad Kanta The Great of Kebbi, was the only ruler who resisted control by Songhai, West Africa’s greatest empire at that time. He founded and ruled the Hausa city-state of Kebbi around 1600 A.D and built Surame its capital, a planned city which was almost impossible to penetrate during war. In fact UNESCO describes Surame as “one of the wonders of human history, creativity and ingenuity”, and probably the most massive stone-walled constructions in West Africa. He is listed in Robin Walker’s 50 Greatest Africans.
15. Nigeria holds Africa’s oldest known boat
The Dufuna canoe which was discovered in Dufuna village, Yobe state, by a Fulani Herdsman in May 1987, while he dug a well. Various radio-carbon tests conducted in laboratories of reputable universities in Europe and America indicate that the canoe is over 8,000 years old, thus making it the oldest in Africa and 3rd oldest in the world. The discovery of the canoe has completely changed accepted theories of the history and sophistication of marine technology in Africa.
16. Sungbo’s Eredo, a 160 km rampart equipped with guard houses and moats
Sungbo’s Eredo is reputed to be the largest single pre-colonial monument (or ancient fortification if you like) in Africa. It is located in present-day Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State and when it was built a millennium ago, it required more earth to be moved during construction than that used for building the Great Pyramid of Giza (one of the Seven Wonders of The Ancient World). The most astonishing thing is that Sungbo’s Eredo was the biggest city in the world (bigger than Rome and Cairo) during the Middle Ages when it was built!
17. Sarki Abdullah Burja of Kano (ruled 1438-1452 AD).
Sarki Abdullah Burja was the 18th ruler of Ancient Kano, created the first Golden Age in Northern Nigeria and ushered in a period of great prosperity. During his reign, Hausa became the biggest indigenous language spoken in Africa after Swahili. He is on the list of 50 Greatest Africans in Robin Walker’s wonderful book, “When We Ruled”.
18. The Jos Plateau Indigobird.
The Jos Plateau Indigobird a small reddish-brown bird, is found nowhere else on the planet but Plateau state, Nigeria.
19. The Anambra waxbill
The Anambra waxbil is a small bird of many beautiful colours, is found only in Southern Nigeria and nowhere else on earth.
20. The Niger Delta.
The Niger Delta is the second largest delta on the planet, has the highest concentration of monotypic fish families in the world, and is also home to sixty percent of Nigeria’s mangrove forests. You should know too that Nigeria’s mangrove forests are the largest in Africa and third largest on earth.
21. Nigeria is home to 4,715 different types of plant species
According to the World Resources Institute, Nigeria is home to 4,715 different types of plant species, and over 550 species of breeding birds and mammals, making it one of the most ecologically vibrant places of the planet.
22. Present day Osun State.
Ile-Ife, in present day Osun State, was paved as early as 1000AD, with decorations that originated from Ancient America suggesting there might have been contact between the Yorubas and the Ancient Americans half a millenium before Columbus ‘discovered’ America.