Please take a moment today to pray for the nation of Nigeria, situated close to the equator and bordered by Benin, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. Its geography is characterized by tropical rain forests in the south, savannah and grasslands in the north. Population: 139 million, which makes Nigeria the most populous nation in all of Africa and eighth most in the world. Life expectancy for both men and women is approximately 47 years. (Source: CIA World Factbook, 2010)
Nigeria is home to over 490 ethnic groups. The official language is English yet most (96%) of the population use 21 major languages. (Operation World) Major cities include Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Ogbomosho, Kano, and Port Harcourt. 44% of Nigerians live in urban centers; neglect of agriculture has accelerated urban migration.
Nigeria is rich in arable land, mineral resources and oil reserves, yet over 34% of the population live below the poverty line and unemployment is 28%. Much of the country's wealth has been squandered by corrupt rulers such as the military dictator Abacha, who misappropriated an estimated $7 billion during his misrule.
Constitutionally Nigeria is a secular state with freedom of religion. The north of the country, as well as most government officials, is Muslim. The south is mainly Christian. For nearly 40 years the northern ruling elite gave preferential treatment to Muslims and discriminated against Christians. Little was done to stop persecution of Christians in the north with tragic results of churches burnt and many Christians killed. As elsewhere in Africa, animism and local traditions are eclectically present within the major religions of Islam and Christianity.
This article is copyrighted and is for private use and study only. © 2003. Reprints or public distribution is prohibited without the express consent of Douglas Jacoby.