Situated in tropical West Africa, the oil-rich state of Nigeria
is the regional superpower and the most populous country in Africa.
It is listed as one of the 'Next Eleven' major economies of the
world - yet despite its abundant natural resources, it remains one
of the world's poorest countries, with a per capita GDP of just
US$300 per annum.
The country is made up of over 250 tribes, and this potentially
explosive mix, together with tensions between the Muslim and
Christian sections of population (the majority of Nigeria's
Christian population lives in the oil-producing, wealthier southern
region of the country), have contributed to Nigeria's potential
being untapped. Decades of civil war, famine, military dictators
and rampant corruption have left the country with deep divisions
that will take many years to heal over completely. There are
stirring signs of recovery, however, and Nigeria is emerging as an
eminent tourist destination in Africa - welcoming nearly two
million visitors a year.
The capital city is Abuja, but the largest economic centre and
chief port is the former Colonial capital of Lagos, located on the
Bight of Benin in southwestern Nigeria. The capital was moved to
Abuja, located in the heart of the country, in 1991, largely in a
bid to curb the frenetic migration to Lagos not only from rural
Nigeria, but from neighbouring countries as well. Despite this
measure, Lagos remains a sprawling, overcrowded industrial
metropolis, home to nearly 8 million people.
With 500 miles (805km) of coastline, Nigeria has all the raw
ingredients to make for a top tourist destination, and the new
government has pledged to improve infrastructure and attract
investment to tap the country's tourism potential. Meanwhile, this
varied land of sandy beaches, lagoons, tracts of tropical forest,
magnificent waterfalls and fascinating historic sites is being
enjoyed by only the most adventurous travellers.
The vast majority of visitors to Nigeria come for business, and
the regular flights from Europe and North America have so far been
filled mainly with oil executives looking for their slice of
Africa's largest oil producer.