Nigeria is a country located on the western coast of Africa. With a total land area of 923,768 sq km (356,669 sq miles), Nigeria is the 14th largest country in Africa, and the 32nd largest country in the world.
Geography and Location
Nigeria shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the south and it borders the Atlantic Ocean.
The geographic coordinates of Nigeria are 10 00 N, 8 00 E. It lies between latitudes 4° and 14°N, and longitudes 2° and 15°E.
Where Exactly is Nigeria Located on the Map?
Looking at a map of Africa, you will find Nigeria located on the western part of the continent. Nigeria sits above the equator and on the Gulf of Guinea.
The country occupies most of the West African coast. If you draw a line from the western border of Nigeria to its eastern border, the line would span over 900 km (560 miles) across Africa.
Nigeria’s Neighboring Countries
Nigeria shares international boundaries with four countries:
- Benin to the west
- Niger to the north
- Chad to the northeast
- Cameroon to the east
Benin and Nigeria share a border that’s over 800 km long. Niger and Nigeria have the longest border at over 1,500 km.
Regions and Geographic Zones
Nigeria can be divided into several physical regions or geographic zones:
Coastal Swamp Forests
This zone stretches along the Atlantic coast in the southern part of Nigeria. It consists of belt of mangrove forests and swamps intersected by a number of rivers.
The tropical rainforests begin where the coastal zone ends. They experience high rainfall and contain dense vegetation and wildlife.
The savannah makes up the largest area of Nigeria. It consists of rolling plains dotted with trees and has moderate rainfall. Most of the major cities are located here.
In eastern Nigeria bordering Cameroon, you find highlands and mountains that can reach up to 2,000 meters in elevation. These highlands form part of the Cameroon Mountain range.
The semi-arid region lies to the north of the country and merges into the Sahara Desert. Rainfall here is low with more open grasslands and scrub forests.
Major Landforms and Rivers
The landscape of Nigeria consists mostly of broad plains, interrupted by plateaus and hills. Some major landforms include:
- Jos Plateau in the central region
- Adamawa Highlands along the Cameroon border
- Obudu Plateau in the southeast on the Cameroon highlands
The chief rivers in Nigeria are the Niger River and its tributary, the Benue River. Other important rivers are the Sokoto River, Kaduna River, Ogun River, Oshun River, and Imo River.
Together, these rivers form four main drainage basins. Due to the variations in rainfall and vegetation across Nigeria, each river system has its distinct hydrological characteristics.
Climate and Ecological Zones
Nigeria has a tropical climate with variations based on geography. Coastal areas are hot and humid year-round while inland areas have a more subtropical climate.
There are two main seasons – a rainy season from April to October and a dry season from November to March.
Based on climate, Nigeria can be divided into ecological zones:
- Mangrove swamp forests along the coast
- Tropical rainforests in the south central region
- Woodland and grassland savannah in the north
- Montane climate in the highlands of the southeast
Outstanding Features and Tourist Attractions
Some of the top tourist attractions and outstanding geographic features in Nigeria include:
- Zuma Rock – A massive monolith located along the expressway between Abuja and Kaduna. The rock towers over 700 meters above the surrounding plains.
- Gurara Falls – Located near Minna in Niger State. It is about 30 meters high forming a dramatic waterfall when in full flow.
- Obudu Cattle Ranch – A ranch and resort on the Obudu Plateau renowned for its scenic views and mild climate. It has a cable car service offering panoramic views.
- Yankari National Park – Located in Bauchi State, it’s home to numerous wildlife species like elephants, buffalos, lions, and baboons.
- Olumo Rock – A large granite rock outcrop in Abeokuta important to the Egba people. You can climb the rock for panoramic city views.
- Kainji National Park – A national park protecting the Kainji Lake and Borgu Game Reserve known for its birdlife.
Economy and Resources
Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa with abundant natural resources, especially hydrocarbons and minerals.
Chief Economic Activities
The key economic sectors and commercial activities include:
- Oil and gas – Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer churning out over 2 million barrels per day.
- Agriculture – Nigeria has extensive agriculture with major crops like cocoa, palm oil, cashews, cassava, yams, and grains like sorghum, millet, and corn.
- Manufacturing – Home to factories that process agricultural produce as well as cement plants, steel mills, breweries, and more.
- Commerce – Wholesale and retail trade are big contributors to GDP. There is an extensive informal sector.
- Mining – Nigeria mines mineral resources like tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, and zinc.
- Financial services – Lagos is the major financial hub with major Nigerian banks, insurance, and real estate.
- Tourism – Nigeria attracts tourists to its national parks, mountains, waterfalls, cultural sites, festivals, and music.
Nigeria’s chief exports include:
- Crude oil and petroleum gas
- Cocoa beans
- Palm oil
- Petroleum gas
- Refined petroleum
- Raw tobacco
- Processed wood
Population and Major Cities
With over 211 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the 7th most populous in the world.
Major Ethnic Groups
Nigeria is home to over 250 ethnic groups with the following being the largest:
- Hausa and Fulani in Northern Nigeria
- Yoruba in Southwestern Nigeria
- Igbo in Southeastern Nigeria
Other notable ethnic groups are the Ijaw, Kanuri, Ibibio and Edo.
The largest cities in Nigeria are:
- Lagos – Located in the southwestern part of the country, Lagos is Nigeria’s largest city and has a metro population of over 21 million. It’s the main business and financial hub.
- Kano – The oldest major city in northern Nigeria and the capital of Kano State. It has just under 4 million residents.
- Ibadan – Located in Oyo State, it’s the largest city by geographical area. Home to several major universities and colleges.
- Abuja – The purpose-built capital city of Nigeria located in the center of the country. Has a population of nearly 3 million.
- Port Harcourt – Coastal oil hub located in Rivers State with over 2 million inhabitants.
History and Politics
Nigeria first gained independence in 1960. It has had a volatile political history including military dictatorships and civilian rule.
Brief Political History
Key events in Nigeria’s political history:
- Colonial rule began when Britain annexed Lagos in 1861. Britain later merged all its protectorates forming the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria in 1914.
- Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960 becoming a republic.
- The First Republic lasted from 1963 to 1966 and was followed by series of military coups.
- In 1999, Nigeria returned to democracy with the Fourth Republic which still continues.
Current Political Structure
Nigeria is a Federal Republic modelled after the United States, with executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.
The President is head of state and head of the executive branch. There is a bicameral National Assembly consisting of the Senate and House of Representatives.
There are 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory all with democratically elected governors and assemblies. The states are further divided into 774 local government areas.
Nigeria plays important roles in African politics including peacekeeping and supporting liberation movements against minority white rule during the decolonization of Africa.
It has remained a prominent member of the United Nations since independence. Nigeria has close ties with Western powers like Britain and the United States.
In summary, Nigeria is located on the west coast of Africa on the Gulf of Guinea. It shares land borders with Benin, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. The landscape consists of plains, plateaus and mountains with rivers, forests, and savannahs.
Some of its notable geographic features are the Jos Plateau, Adamawa Highlands, and Gurara Falls. Major cities include Lagos, Kano, Ibadan, Abuja, and Port Harcourt among others.
Nigeria has a colonial history and rich ethnic diversity. It has faced political instability but remains Africa’s largest economy buoyed by oil and gas, manufacturing, agriculture and mining.
On which continent is Nigeria located?
Nigeria is located in West Africa. It occupies a central position on the continent.
What water bodies border Nigeria?
The Gulf of Guinea and the Atlantic Ocean border Nigeria to the south. Nigeria has an extensive coastline on the Gulf of Guinea.
What are Nigeria’s neighboring countries?
Nigeria shares land borders with Benin to the west, Niger to the north, Chad to the northeast, and Cameroon to the east.
What is the capital and largest city of Nigeria?
Abuja is the capital city while Lagos is the largest and most populous city in Nigeria.
What are the major geographic regions and landforms in Nigeria?
Nigeria has coastal mangrove swamps, tropical forests, savannah plains, plateaus, and mountains in the eastern highlands along the border with Cameroon.