The Federal Republic of Nigeria claimed its independence from the U. K. in 1960, becoming the most populous country in Africa. The Niger River connects Nigeria to its West African neighbors along the Gulf of Guinea, and empties into the Niger Delta, a hotbed for the oil trade. Before moving to the centrally located city of Abuja, Nigeria’s capital was Lagos, a port city by the Niger Delta. Lagos maintains the heaviest concentration of Nigeria’s population and is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.
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Years of violent civil war and military rule plagued Nigeria until the adoption of a new constitution and the first inauguration of a civilian president in 1999. Government accountability is believed to have improved, but elections continue to face scrutiny. In 2015, President Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari became the first opposition party candidate to win an election. He leads Nigeria’s 36 states and one territory under a federal republic.
Nigeria is a key member of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries. Oil is its primary export and has been the lifeline to the country’s economic growth. Other exports include cocoa and rubber.
Gross national income has seen incremental growth for at least 15 years, but the Nigerian people do not see much of that revenue. A majority of the country’s population lives in poverty. One-third of the nation’s children are never enrolled in school. Nigeria also has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS related deaths in the world.
About half of Nigeria’s population identifies as Muslim, and an Islamic legal system was also implemented in 1999, primarily in the northern region of the country. Boko Haram, an Islamic extremist group aligned with al-Qaida, has built up its presence in the region and harsh implementation of Islamic law has caused many Christians to flee the country. Nigeria has formed an alliance with several surrounding countries to combat separatist and terrorist threats.
Nigeria is a member of significant international organizations such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the World Trade Organization.
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