Country of the World Nigeria

About the country Nigeria, its location, size, population, leaders and rulers.




Lay of the Land: The most populous nation in Africa, Nigeria is a densely settled country located on the southern part of the bulge of West Africa. In the southeast section of Nigeria, a morass of brackish rivers and humid palm-studded islands form the Niger Delta. Here a land, once famed for its palm oil, is now producing another oil--petroleum--and the oil derricks both on land and offshore are daily pumping millions of barrels of the black gold. The entire coastal part of the country consists of a hot steamy belt of mangrove swamps. These merge in the interior into a dense rain forest. Continuing north, the rain forest gives way to open woodland and savanna. In the far north, the vegetation all but ceases as the fringe of the Great Sahara Desert is reached.

Size: 356,669 sq. mi. (923,768 sq. km.).

Population: 68.1 million.

Who Rules: The 19-member Supreme Military Council with Lt. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo at its head rules the country through military decree. Military governors in each of the 19 states carry out these decrees with the help of a 250,000-man standing army. Obasanjo has been referred to by President Carter as a "freedom fighter."

Who REALLY Rules: The army is in complete control of the government. The former hold on the Nigerian economy by international business concerns has been lessened somewhat in recent years through a Nigerianization program. Smaller businesses are expected to be 100% owned by Nigerians, banks and large commercial enterprises are ordered to be 60% owned by Nigerians, and large international industrial firms, i.e., oil companies, are to have 40% Nigerian participation. Most firms have complied with government orders by selling stock to Nigerian nationals. A few, for example Citibank, have resolved the problem by liquidating their Nigerian holdings.

The role of women has improved immeasurably in the past decade. The draft of the new constitution calls for equal pay for equal work, something rare in Africa, where dual pay scales often exist. Another innovation is that women in the Muslim part of the country will be given the franchise.

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