Being the birth place of bulk of Africa’s Anglophone literature it becomes essential to understand history, topography, culture and society of Nigeria. According to the facts of history found on all internet sites as well as all books on Nigeria, it is a republic in western Africa that is bounded by Cameroon to the east, Chad to the northeast, Niger to the north, Benin to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south. It used to have Lagos, the largest city on the south-western coast, as its capital. In 1991, Abuja was made its capital. Abuja is in the interior of the country and is turning into a new business hub of new Nigeria.
Most Populated of African Countries
According to The Encarta Encyclopedia 2007, ‘Nigeria is by far the most populated of Africa’s countries. Its many ethnic groups give the country a rich culture but also pose major challenges to nation building.’ Despite having the exportable oil resources the country still figures in the list of world’s poorest countries.
It gained its independence from Britain in 1960 but has not yet been able to reap the benefits of independence in economic terms. Further political instability in the wake of this independence, a typical phenomenon for all third world countries, has endured many on-and-ff military rules for decades. In The Man of People Achebe’s favourite topic is this political instability which is due to political corruption of people at the helms of country’s affairs.
Topography Ranges from Lowlands to High Plateaus and Mountains
Books on geography tell that Nigerian topography ranges from lowlands along the coast and in the lower Niger Valley to high plateaus in the north and mountains along the eastern border. The Nigerian ecology varies from tropical forest in the south to dry savanna in the far north. The Atlantic coastline is marked by a series of sandbars, backed by lagoons of brackish water that support the growth of mangroves.
Tropical Climate with Sharp Regional Variances
The country has a tropical climate. There, however, are sharp regional variances which depend on the intensity of rainfall. At times moist air from the Atlantic converges with hot, dry, and often dust-laden air from the Sahara known locally as the harmattan. Northern Nigeria typically experiences greater temperature extremes than the south. For outside travellers wintry months are the best time to travel to Nigeria.
Reckless emphasis on development due to political exigencies has damaged Nigerian ecology. Nigeria’s rivers and lakes have not fared well under this development. Sensitive wetland habitats have been cleared for irrigation, their flood-dependent ecosystems have been damaged irreparably, its diverse habitat of mangrove swamps, tropical forests, savanna, and mountain plateaus that supported a diversity of plants and animals have disappeared.
Fertile Land as a Result of Alluvial Deposition in River Valleys
Nature has lavishly favoured Nigeria as along with the oil resources it has given it the most fertile land as well. The productivity and the firtility of the soil is due to alluvial deposition in river valleys. Currently, due to lack of attention of successive governments this natural resource is being depleted because of overuse and erosion. Now most of Nigeria’s export earnings are based on petroleum and natural gas concentrated in large amounts in the Niger Delta and just offshore.
Highest Hopulation Densities in Igbo Heartland
Nigeria is a young nation and nearly half of Nigerians are younger than 15 year. Its population is growing at an average of 3 percent annually and it is expected that by 2025 the population will grow to 204 million. It will be a huge jump from the present population status that stands at a half of the projected one. Igbo heartland in southeastern Nigeria is densely populated. Hausa cities in the North, especially Kano, Sokoto, and Zaria, are also packed with people.
Lagos, Ibadan, and Kano are Largest Cities
Toyin Falola in The History of Nigeria tells that Nigeria is still a primarily rural country even though urban areas have doubled in size since 1970. The largest cities, in order of size, are Lagos, Ibadan, and Kano. Lagos despite its loss of the federal capital to Abuja, remains country’s economic and cultural center.
According to The CIA’s World Factbook, “Nigeria is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups; the following are the most populous and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%.” It is noticeable here that the three largest ethnic groups, the Hausa–Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo, represent 68 percent of the population.