Country Listing

Nigeria Table of Contents


Chapter 2. The Society and Its Environment


Statue of Oya, traditional goddess of rivers and the wife of Shango, Yoruba god of thunder

NIGERIA, THE MOST POPULOUS country in Africa and the tenth largest country by population in the world, is located at the eastern terminus of the bulge of West Africa. As with many of the other nations of Africa, Nigeria's national boundaries result from its colonial history and cut across a number of cultural and physical boundaries. Nigeria has a total area of 923,768 square kilometers, about 60 percent the size of the state of Alaska, and the greatest area of the nations along the coast of West Africa (although in Africa as a whole, it is only the fourteenth largest country by area). The maximum north-south distance within the country is about 1,040 kilometers, while the maximum east-west distance is about 1,120 kilometers. Although it represents only about 3 percent of the surface area of Africa, Nigeria contains about 20 percent of total African population. In this and other respects, it is arguably the single most important country on the continent.

Data as of June 1991