Federal Republic of Nigeria
Formerly known as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria, modern day Nigeria gained independence from Britain on 1 October 1960. The period subsequent to independence has been turbulent, and it was only in 1999 that military rule gave way to civilian government. There are still many ethnic and religious conflicts going on in this oil rich state.
Though it is thought that Nigeria still has a large and relatively unexplored archeological past, the earliest human fossil skeleton dates back about 10,000 years. It is also site to some of the oldest metalwork finds in west Africa, dating back to the fourth century B.C. The earliest identified Nigerian culture is that of the Nok people, especially famous for their terra-cotta sculpture. Some of these pieces being the most prized African art treasures. Traditional Nigerian African art is one of the most prolific in this idiom, of particular note is the art of the Ife and Benin civilizations, the Yoruba and the Igbo.
The capital city is Abuja, having been moved from Lagos in 1991. The Nigerian legal system is based on English common law, Islamic Shariah law in the 12 northern states, and traditional law. English is the official language, and their currency is the naira.
Nigeria is a west African country bordering Cameroon to the east, Benin to the west, Niger to the north and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. The total surface area is 356,668 square miles. Arable land consists of 33% of the surface area and the climate is tropical in the south and arid to the north. Natural resources include oil (one of the world's largest producers and exporters, on a similar scale to Kuwait), natural gas, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead and zinc. Their main agricultural products are cocoa, peanuts, palm oil, corn, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava, yams, rubber, timber and livestock.
Nigeria is the most populous African country with a total population of 132 million people. There are more than 250 ethnic groups, the most important 29% Hausa and Fulani, 21% Yoruba, 18% Igbo (Ibo), 10% Ijaw, 4% Kanuri, 3,5% Ibibio and 2,5% Tiv.
The labor force is about 57 million people, and it is estimated that 60% of the population live below the poverty line. In 2003 it was estimated that 5,4% of the adult population are infected with HIV/AIDS.