Nigeria (Hausa: Nijeriya, Igbo: Naíjíríà, Yoruba: Nàìjíríà) is a large country in equatorial West Africa. Often regarded as the giant of Africa, Nigeria is the most populous, the largest economy, and one of the most important countries on the African continent, with delicious cuisines and great tourist attractions. Although the northern parts of the country may be dangerous due to the influence of an Islamist rebel group ISWAP, also called Boko Haram.
|Southwest Nigeria |
Land of the Yoruba and Edo as well as minorities, includes the major city of Lagos
|Southeast Nigeria |
Land of the Igbo people, the Ibibio and Ijaw, as well as minorities and centre of the huge oil industry
|Central Nigeria |
Transitional zone between the southern forests and northern savanna
|Eastern Nigeria |
A rural region with several nature reserves and highlands along the border with Cameroon
|Northern Nigeria |
Land of the Hausa and Fulani, almost exclusively Islamic with sharia law imposed
|Northeastern Nigeria |
Dominated by the Kanuri people
- 1 Abuja — the capital, with beautiful rolling terrain and modern Nigerian architecture
- 2 Benin City — city of the Edo people
- 3 Calabar — oil region, with the world's highest concentration of butterflies in the surrounding regions
- 4 Enugu — the coal city
- 5 Ibadan — geographically the largest city in Africa
- 6 Kano — important Hausa city, commercial hub of the north
- 7 Lagos — second most populous city in Africa, former colonial capital and huge commercial hub
- 8 Osogbo — home of the Sacred Grove of Osun, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- 9 Port Harcourt — capital of Rivers State and largest city in the oil-rich region
|Currency||Nigerian naira (NGN)|
|Population||190.8 million (2017)|
|Electricity||230 volt / 50 hertz (BS 1363, BS 546)|
|Emergencies||112, 199 (emergency medical services, fire department, police)|
|edit on Wikidata|
The pre-colonial eraEdit
The Nok culture of northern Nigeria flourished between 1000 BC and 500 AD producing life-sized terracotta figures which are some of the earliest known sculptures in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Tiv culture in the north central region of Nigeria dates to 6 BC. Some of the famous bronze terracotta sculpture heads from this culture have been shown around the world.
In the northern part of the country, Kano and Katsina have recorded history which dates back to around 999.
The kingdoms of Ifẹ and Oyo in the western block of Nigeria became prominent about 700–900 and 1400 respectively. The Yoruba mythology believes that Ile-Ife is the source of the human race and that it predates any other civilization. Another prominent kingdom in south western Nigeria was the Kingdom of Benin whose power lasted between the 15th and 19th century. Their dominance reached as far as the well known city of Eko, later named Lagos by the Portuguese. Benin City, the capital of the Kingdom of Benin, grew into one of the most impressive cities in pre-colonial Africa, with its city walls said to be four times the length of the Great Wall of China. However, little of its former glory remains as it was razed to the ground during the British invasion in 1897, with only one building surviving the invasion. Its artworks were looted by the British and can now be seen in the British Museum and various museums in Europe and the United States.
In southeastern Nigeria the Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people flourished from around the 10th century until 1911 and the city of Nri is considered to be the foundation of Igbo culture.
In northeastern Nigeria, the Kanem Empire ruled from the 8th century to 1376 and was succeeded by the Bornu Empire, which was a powerful Islamic monarchy until it was defeated by the Fulani in the early 19th century.
The first Hausa kingdom was actually ruled by a queen, Amina, in the 11th century. Hausa kingdoms, based in what's now northern Nigeria, flourished from the 15th to 18th centuries, before eventually being defeated by the Fulani, who proclaimed the Sokoto Caliphate in 1809. The Sokoto Caliphate ruled for less than 100 years before being abolished by the British.
Although the Bornu Empire, Sokoto Caliphate and Kingdom of Benin were eventually absorbed into British Nigeria, the descendants of the rulers retained their titles and influence through the colonial period and maintain them to this day.
Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to begin trade in Nigeria, and called the main port Lagos after the Portuguese town of Lagos, in Algarve. This name stuck on with more European trade with the region. The Europeans traded with the ethnicities of the coast and also established a trade in slaves which affected many Nigerian ethnicities. Following the Napoleonic Wars, the British expanded trade with the Nigerian interior.
In 1885 British claims to a West African sphere of influence received international recognition and in the following year the Royal Niger Company was chartered. In 1900 the company's territory came under the control of the British government, which moved to consolidate its hold over the area of modern Nigeria. On January 1, 1901 Nigeria became a British protectorate (northern and southern protectorates) and part of the British Empire. In 1914 the northern protectorate and the southern protectorate under the colonial rule were merged forming one single entity named "Nigeria" (meaning: Niger[river Niger] area. The name "Nigeria" was given by the wife of the British Governor-General in charge of the country - Sir Lord Lugard.
Following World War II, in response to the growth of Nigerian nationalism and demands for independence, successive constitutions legislated by the British Government moved Nigeria toward self-government on a representative and increasingly federal basis. By the middle of the 20th century, the great wave for independence was sweeping across Africa.
On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom. As was the habit of colonialists during that era, no attention was paid to the fact that the "protectorates" suddenly and quite chaotically merged hundreds of distinct and autonomous ethnicities, or to the fact that some communities were ripped apart by the sudden construction of boundaries that never existed before. There was never a truly developed sense of singular Nigerian identity. In part, it was this disequilibrium which set the stage in 1966 for several successive military coups.
The Northern coup, which was mostly motivated by ethnic and religious reasons, was a bloodbath of both military officers and civilians, especially those of Igbo extraction. The violence against the Igbo increased their desire for autonomy and protection from the military's wrath. By May 1967, the Eastern Region had declared itself an independent state called the Republic of Biafra and the 30-month Nigerian Civil War began. More than one million people died, many of them starving to death before Biafra was defeated.
During the oil boom of the 1970s, Nigeria joined OPEC and billions of dollars generated by production in the oil-rich Niger Delta flowed into the coffers of the Nigerian state. However, increasing corruption and graft at all levels of government squandered most of these earnings. Nigeria re-achieved democracy in 1999 and although the elections which brought Obasanjo to power in 1999 and again in 2003 were condemned as unfree and unfair, Nigeria has shown marked improvements in attempts to tackle government corruption and to hasten development. Ethnic violence over the lack of profit-sharing with residents of the oil-producing Niger Delta region and inadequate infrastructures are some of the current issues in the country, which is the top oil-producing country in Africa.
Varies; equatorial in the south, tropical in the centre, arid in the north. Natural hazards include periodic droughts and flooding. Tornadoes and hurricanes are rare because they typically are weak at this stage and travel west of the Atlantic.
Southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in the southeast, plains in the north. The Niger river enters the country in the northwest and flows southward through tropical rain forests and swamps to its delta in the Gulf of Guinea. The highest point is Chappal Waddi at 2,419 m.
Nigeria is the continent's most populous nation and the world's 7th most populous. The people of Nigeria are generally nice, with some even engaging you with conversations. As the Giant of Africa, Nigeria has more than 500 ethnic groups with different languages and customs. The largest ethnic groups — Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani/Hausa and Tiv — comprise more than 75% of the population. They have strong religious beliefs and respect for the elders is a must-do.
- New Year's Day (January 1)
- Easter (Good Friday and Easter Monday, according to the Western Christian tradition)
- Workers day (May 1)
- Children's Day (May 27)
- Democracy Day (May 29)
- Eid al-Adha
- Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan
- Independence Day (October 1)
- Christmas (December 25)
- Boxing Day (December 26)
Foreign nationals who are not citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) need to apply for a visa to enter Nigeria. This can be obtained through an online system, then finalised at Nigerian embassies, high commissions and consulates worldwide. In some countries, such as the UK, a service provider is also used for the visa application process.
Nigerian visas are expensive, requiring payment of fees to multiple offices. For an applicant in the UK, there will be a US$164 fee payable online, followed by UK£20 for the High Commission and GBP75 for OIS Services who process the visa. The price of posting or delivering/collecting the passport is extra.
If you require a visa to enter Nigeria, you might be able to apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no Nigerian diplomatic post. For example, the British embassies in Pristina and Sofia accept Nigerian visa applications (this list is not exhaustive). British diplomatic posts charge UK£50 to process a Nigerian visa application and an extra £70 if the authorities in Nigeria require the visa application to be referred to them. The authorities in Nigeria can also decide to charge an additional fee if they correspond with you directly.
Travellers entering Nigeria overland can easily pick up a tourist visa at the Nigerian embassy in Niamey, Niger. Requirements are two passport photos and a reference in Nigeria, no letter of invitation needed. The price is 75,000/140,000 CFA francs (€115/213) for a 3 month single-/multiple-entry visa for most EU-citizens and processing time is around one day (November 2016).
- International airports in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Port Harcourt.
Arik and Bellview Airlines make local and international flights (to other African countries and London), Aero to other African countries. Air Nigeria (formerly Virgin Nigeria) has ceased operations. Arik Air plies these routes.
- Several European airlines fly to Nigeria: British Airways (London Heathrow - Abuja, Lagos), Virgin Atlantic (London Heathrow - Lagos), KLM (Amsterdam - Abuja, Lagos, Kano), Air France (Paris-Charles de Gaulle - Lagos), Alitalia (Rome- Fiumicino - Accra, Lagos), Turkish Airline (Istanbul - Lagos), Lufthansa (Frankfurt - Abuja, Lagos), Iberia Airlines (Madrid - Lagos)
- US Based Delta Air Lines operates five non-stop flights a week from Atlanta to Lagos using a Boeing 777-200 aircraft, as well as nonstop service from New York to Abuja three times per week using a wide-body Boeing 767-300.
- United Airlines formerly operated non-stop service from Houston Bush-Intercontinental to Lagos.
- Other inter-continental airlines fly to Lagos. They include: China Southern Airlines (Beijing, Dubai), Emirates (Dubai), Middle East Airlines (Beirut), Qatar Airways (Doha).
- There are African companies: South African Airlines from Johannesburg, Egypt Air from Cairo, Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa, Kenya Airways from Nairobi, Afriqya Airways from Tripoli.
- Besides these, there are other airlines (in addition to VNA and Bellview) that operate domestic and regional flights to places like Abidjan, Accra, Banjul, Conakry, Dakar, Douala, Freetown, Johannesburg, Libreville, Monrovia.
- There are also airports in most states of the federation and local air travel is widespread.
There are no international passenger services to Nigeria.
Getting around is relatively easy, except that there could be delays due to traffic jams within most major cities. There are multitudes of coaches and buses that will take you to any part of Nigeria you wish (ABC Transport Services is well known for its services among others). Lagos state government also operates a transit system (BRT buses) which serves the Lagos metropolis.
Transport by boat isn't widespread unless you venture into the riverine areas of Nigeria.
It would be best to travel around in your own car or a hired one (with a driver) but there are various other modes of transport. The road systems in Nigeria are relatively poor compared with North American and European countries, but often still passable. The "okada" (motorcycle) is not for the faint-hearted (there used to be no helmets but as a law the rider is required to have two helmets for himself and a passenger, although very few okada riders adhere to this rule.) and should only be used for short distance journeys. "Okadas" will get you to where you want to go quickly and you will get there in one piece. In Lagos, there are lots of buses and taxis. There are two main types of buses, the molue (an old 911 Mercedes Benz truck turned into school-like bus and the danfo (a Volkswagen Kombi bus turned into an eight-seater minibus). Most smaller cities have more taxis than buses, and they are quite affordable.
For travelling from one city to another, you go to the "motor park", find the taxi that's going to your destination, and wait until it "fills up". The price is fixed, you don't have to negotiate. Some drivers may have a risky driving style however - practically this means that the only rule consistently adhered to (by cars, not necessarily motorcycles), is keeping to the right.
Driving in Nigeria (especially Lagos) is somewhat unique, vaguely resembling driving in Cairo. If mastered, you should however be able to cope in most other countries. While driving in Abuja is relatively decent due to regularly maintained roads, it still doesn't compare with roads in more developed countries.
Many roads are bad, but there are rarely any major accidents, you just have to strap your seatbelts in and enjoy the ride. Expect potholes of every size, and that, except on the highway, people will drive on the wrong side to avoid potholes or other bad patches of road. Sometimes entire roads are non-existent, so be prepared for anything. It is advisable to keep your distance from lorries or large vehicles, as many are driven without side-view mirrors, fully functional breaks, and most dangerous of all, securely strapped/attached cargo.
Grass or branches on the road means there is a broken down vehicle ahead of you, be careful.
If you are white, get used to Nigerians shouting at you as you pass by. It will be something like "Oyibo", "Oniocha""MBakara", "Bature" or "white man". It all means the same, they are just telling you to smile as you pass.
Self-driving for short-term visitors unfamiliar with the roads, especially in Lagos, is by no means advisable and could actually be quite foolish, perhaps even dangerous. You could easily wander into an area or a road block set by local gangs. If you choose to rent a car, it will come with a driver familiar with the area and style of driving, which is the easier and safer option.
Police may try to take fiscal advantage of you as a foreigner. If you wish to drive yourself it is advisable to stick to the rules, as you will be an easy target for police officers to "fine". These are not real fines, they are payable directly to the officer in cash - without a ticket or a receipt. Even if you obey the traffic rules, police will find some petty reason - like not indicating your intention to drive straight. Should you be pulled over, do not give your license, as you will then lose all bargaining power when negotiating the "fine", which could easily be a maximum of all the visible cash you have on you at the time. Rather, carry a copy of the license and hand that over, or show your license through your window. Also, do not let the police get into your car. They are not really dangerous, but it could get expensive and certainly annoying. However, if you just don't pay and remain calm, it only costs time. They have no real power over you.
Especially over weekends and festive times, it is common practice for police, especially in the richer areas of Lagos, to flag you down and wish you happy weekend/holiday/Christmas/Easter/sunny weather/trip to work. In this case, you did nothing wrong and they do not intend to "fine" you, but are rather asking for a tip. If you insistently yet politely refuse to give something, they will eventually let you go. Just wish them a nice weekend/holiday/etc. too.
If you work for a big company in Nigeria, you will usually have a company driver to drive you around, thereby avoiding the abovementioned problems to a large extent. He can arrange a local driver's license for you should the need arise without a driving test or proof of foreign license.
Nigeria is not part of the most standard international Road Traffic Convention and as such will require a special International Driving Permit (valid only for driving in Nigeria, Somalia and Iraq) (if you do not want to get the Nigerian license), not the normal one applicable to almost all other countries in the world.
The last Saturday of the month is Sanitation Day in Lagos and Kano, when the locals clean their premises. While it is not illegal to be out on the street between 7:00AM-10:00AM, due to the higher than usual presence of police officers and road check points, most Nigerians choose to restrict their movements until after 10:00AM. Should you be caught at this time, you may be taken away by the police to perform some "public sanitation" duty, like mowing lawns, etc.
After having being abandoned for a long time, rehabilitation of rail services in Nigeria are finally in full swing. Helped by Chinese investment several new lines are expected to open in the next few years while older lines are renovated. While still much slower than flying, it is now possible to travel across the country by train. Nigeria Railway Corporation is the sole operator, this might however change as the government mulls liberalization of the railway sector.
Lagos and Abuja now have almost daily connections with cities in the interior of Nigeria such as Ilorin, Minna and Kaduna, with Lagos even offering a once-weekly sleeper service all the way north to Kano.
Arik and Aero Contractors have scheduled domestic connections with modern aircraft and reasonable prices. Their websites are user-friendly and well updated. In Lagos, the two domestic terminals, while next to each other, are about 4-5 km (of road which would not be wise to walk if you don't know the place) from the international terminal, and you would therefore need a taxi to get from the one to the other, should you wish to transfer from an international flight to a domestic one.
- Lagos: Bar Beach, Badagary Beach, Tarkwa bay Beach
- Lekki (suburb of Lagos): Lekki Forest Reserve - nice little fenced-off and interesting patch of tropical rainforest with wooden walkways located on the outskirts of the city on the Lekki Express Way, just before the second toll gate", as many people tend not to know about the existence of the place, so taxi will probably look at you with a "huh" expression even though he may drive past it daily, Lekki Beach, Eleko Beach
- Hiking and tourism on the Plateau
- Enugu: Hiking and traditional events, e.g. New yam and atiliogwu dancers
- Calabar: Harbour where you can get boat rides, a nice cinema, sit-out parks and slave monuments in the Marina Resort located in Calabar; also there is Tinapa (the Nollywood studios) a little drive outside the city.
- Obudu: Small town a few hours to the north from Calabar very close to the Cameroon border - rent a car from Calabar airport (comes with driver) and ask the driver to take you there via Tinapa. This is a cool mountain escape with a nice resort (Obudu Mountain Resort) on the mountain (the president also has a weekend home there). They have some forest walks, hiking, one of the longest cable cars in the world and very nice pristine swimming pools with fountains available.
- Imo: Igbo Ukwu Shrine, if you are interested in Nigerian art.
- The old walled cities of Kano, Katsina and Zaria.
- Oyo: Palace of Alaafin, traditional markets and Calabash carvers.
- Daura: the spiritual centre of the Hausa people.
- Machina: A town with its annual cultural festival which takes place in March featuring cultural events such as traditional wrestling and horse racing.
- Argungu: A small town with its annual fishing festival that occurs three days with approximately 35,000 fishermen catching fish in the murky waters.
- Abuja: The capital, one of the most beautiful African cities has many tourists attractions including The Zuma rock, Millenium park and lots of rolling hills
The official language in Nigeria is English. That sounds reassuring, but Nigerian English can be surprisingly different. Most Nigerians speak pidgin English as a second means of communication, which sometimes greatly differs from standard English, due to the addition of local slang and varying dialect.
Understanding Nigerian pidgin English may take time for the unaccustomed ear. The easiest way to overcome any initial language block is to ask questions.
Exchange rates for Nigerian naira
As of January 2020:
Exchange rates fluctuate. Current rates for these and other currencies are available from XE.com
Nigeria's currency is naira (symbol: ₦, ISO 4217 code: NGN). Banknotes circulate in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 and inflation typically runs in double figures.
It is advised to cash all your naira back into another currency at the airport before you leave Nigeria. The rate is irrelevant, as the naira is not worth that much outside Nigeria. Naira bills/coins may be of interest to currency collectors, but other than that, they will be nothing more than colourful souvenirs of your trip. Banks will change foreign currency to naira, but usually not the other way around, even though you are a foreigner. You would therefore need to use the Bureaux de Change at the International terminal or the new Domestic terminal or street vendors to get foreign currency should you end up with unused naira at the end of your trip. A safe place to change in Victoria Island is in the tourist market of Eko Hotel in Victoria Island.
If the Bureaux de Change at the airport are closed, the car park outside the International terminal is full of street vendors only willing to change money from any major currency. When dealing with these street vendors, keep the money you are buying fully visible until the deal is finished (i.e. don't put into handbag and later discover it is wrong and then try and bargain) and count carefully with them, as they tend to try and short-change you with a note or two, especially when you change foreign currency into naira (which is a thick bundle of small notes), but with necessary vigilance are generally fine. Street vendors are also plentiful at the main land borders to change naira into CFA francs (XOF (Benin and Niger side) or XAF (Cameroon side)) if need be. XOF and XAF are freely and easily convertible to and from euros at a rate of 655.957 (sometimes with a small commission) when you are in the French countries.
Changing large bills of US dollars or euros will give a better rate with professional money changers, such as on the currency exchange market near Lagos Domestic Airport. This is a walled enclosure with a large number of money changers, which is primarily used by local nationals.
If you have a Visa card, you can withdraw money from Standard Chartered Bank ATMs in Lagos - Aromire St, off Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja & Ajose Adeogun St in Victoria Island Branch, Abuja and Port Harcourt (in Naira) and ATMs of some other banks with "Visa" stickers on them, like GT Bank, UBA, and Zenith. This will save you a lot of stress carrying large sums of money and it is secured.
On Abuja and Lagos International Airport money can be withdrawn from ATMs. On Lagos International there are several ATMs, several may not function at all times. On Lagos Domestic Terminal there is also a functioning ATM in the domestic terminal on the 1st floor. Usually this a quiet ATM which also is very private and secure.
MasterCard/Maestro users can also withdraw money from ATMs at several branches of Zenith Bank and GT Bank. Some ATMs of Ecobank, First Bank and Intercontinental Bank also allow for MasterCard/Maestro cards. Look for the red ATM sign outside, or ask the on-site security officer at any branch. Also look for Ecobank, they have a branch within the premises of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Visa is however a safer option if you are visiting the French countries around Nigeria as well, as MasterCard/Maestro is close to useless in these countries.
If you do use an ATM, be aware of the risks of card cloning. This a problem with the airport ATMs which do not have a security guard watching over them. Check your statements regularly after using your card and alert your bank to any suspicious activity.
Nigeria is on an active drive to become a cash-less society, and as such, more and more hotels, restaurant and shops (all the bigger ones at least) accept major credit cards (Visa being the preferred one - but ask first, there is both "local Visa" and "international Visa" - and MasterCard). Diners Club and Amex are almost universally useless in Nigeria. When paying by card, take the usual precautions (watch how they swipe, don't let the card out of your sight, etc.)
At markets, you are supposed to haggle for your goods (a notable exception is bread: its price is fixed). As a general rule, the real price is about half the price that was first asked. The seller may exaggerate the price when he or she thinks that you are a rich tourist ignorant of the real price. After agreeing on a price, don't walk away without buying, this is considered very rude.
Shops like supermarket and restaurants will typically charge fixed prices. Fresh products and Western-style sit-in restaurants are quite expensive, with it not being uncommon to pay US$75 for a dinner per person.
There are many types of traditional cuisine to enjoy. For example: afang soup, okra soup, owo soup and starch in the Niger Delta, plantain (fried, boiled, roasted), pepper soup, amala, eba, efo, pounded yam (iyan - Yoruba for "pounded yam" pronounce " ee-yarn" ), jollof rice, ground nut soup, ogbono soup, isi ewu (goat's head stew), egusi soup, suya (kebab), moin moin, ewedu, gbegiri soup (beans soup), edikangikong, ground-rice, puff-puff, chin chin, ikokore, owerri soup (ofe owerri), which is the most expensive African soup in Nigeria. Not to forget 404 pepper soup - it will make you act like "Oliver Twist." You must realise that 404 means "dog meat." and yes, it can only be found in certain parts of the country because in the west it is seen as barbaric.
For the less adventurous traveller, there are loads of "foreign" restaurants in Lagos, e.g. Sky Bar and the grill at Eco Hotel, Churasco's, Lagoon and Fusion all three next to each other (all-you-can-eat Brazilian grill, Indian and Sushi respectively) with a nice view of the lagoon, Piccolo Mondo, Manuella's Residence (great Italian Pizza from Manuella the Italian lady), Bungalow (close to Coschari's BMW in VI) - good sports bar, grill and Sushi, great Sunday buffet at Radisson Blu. Chocolate Royal is a nice family restaurant with excellent ice cream selection (including ice cream cakes) and pastries in VI. Inside Chocolate Royal is an Oriental restaurant called Métisse. Bottles in VI is a grill and Mexican restaurant. And there are loads more flavours from every corner of the world. Just Google and ask taxi to take you there. Outside Lagos and to a lesser extent Abuja, Western food will tend to disappear, with "Jollof Rice and fried chicken" being a "safe" option if you are not adventurous. Fried plantains, shawarma and chicken suya are some of the best options if you are craving some street food. These are often sold by locals at the roadside.
Foreign restaurants are expensive and you can prepare for a bill of at least $50 to $75 or even $100 per head for main course. If this is too much, try the Syrian Club in Ikoyi (turn North - away from the water) at the Mobil filling station in Awolowo Road (the night club street) in Ikoyi, continue a few blocks and on your left you will see the Syrian mosque, turn in the gate just after the mosque and the Syrian Club will be on your right on the inside of the premises with nice Lebanese/Syrian flair at very affordable (for Lagos) prices in an outdoor setting.
If you are a new expat living in Lagos, do yourself a favour and acquaint yourself early on with the following more expensive, foreign owned, but well worth-it, smaller specialist shops in VI selling all the delicacies and nice imported red meats that foreigners long for in and that Shoprite, Park and Shop, Next, and Goodie's (the main supermarkets) may not stock: 1. Deli's on Akin Adesola (the main road leading to Bar Beach), 2. L'Epicérie across the road from Mega Plaza and 3. La Pointe on Kofo Abayomi Street (close to the Brazilian Embassy/Consulate) and not easy to spot. Knowing these places will significantly improve your coping ability in the first couple of months.
- Nigeria is one of the places where Guinness is brewed outside of Ireland. And they do it pretty well, although it's not the same product. The Guinness brand (with logo and copyrights where they should be) is also used to brew both an alcohol-free malt version of the black stuff, and an extra strong (about 7.5%) version of Guinness in Kenya (in the case of the latter) and Tanzania (in the case of the former).
- Beer is actually big business in Nigeria, although the move toward evangelism and Islamic law is making its mark. Lagos is relatively unaffected due to its cosmopolitan nature. Heineken, Star, Harp, Gulder and other international beers are available.
- Malt beverages (non alcoholic) are very common in Nigeria.
- The other cheap drink of choice is gin, which is locally made. Some locals will swear to it making their step uncle's dog blind, though, so be careful.
Other drinks to consider include: palm wine, wine, zobo (red soft drink, is a tea of dried roselle flowers), kunun, kai kai (also called ogogoro).
The northern states have implemented Sharia (Islamic) law, which means that alcohol is prohibited. Ironically, the only places where you can drink a beer in these states are the police staff bars and the army barracks, because these are institutions under federal law. Beer is available in Kano, in restaurants managed by foreign or Christian people, Chinese restaurants, and/or French cafes.
For a real night out, go to the Sabongari area of the old town. Plenty of bars around that stay open till very late. Many do decent food as well. Sabongari is also the place to buy alcoholic drinks and there are plenty stores open late into the night. Some hotels in Kano are "dry", however in Tahir Guest Palace the staff will be quite happy to buy you a few bottles of beer for you in your room (all rooms have large fridges).
- The Transcorp Hilton in Abuja is 5-star and a top ranked hotel in Nigeria. It's comparable to nice hotels in other developing countries. However, if you decide to visit the hotel bar, be warned that the single women who seem so interested in you are almost certainly "working." This is true of many hotels that cater to international clients.
- In Port Harcourt, the Meridian is quite decent. It's a tad bit expensive but your money's worth is guaranteed.
- In Lagos, the Sheraton Hotel and the Kuramo Lodge on Victoria Island are ranked 4 star. You can also try the Eko Hotel & Suites adjacent to Kuramo Lodge. It's definitely a favourite for tourists and foreigners.
- In Kano, you can have an aircond room in Tahir Guest Palace, Prince hotel, or one of many small hotels. The Green Palace Hotel in Kano is awesome. It is roomy, not as isolated as the Prince, and just has a pleasant ambience.
There are lots of private and public primary (elementary) and secondary (high) schools. It is worth it to organize a trip to whatever institution of learning you are interested in as this would give you a personal perspective on what facilities are available in your school of interest. There is a nationwide, standardized common entrance exam for students wishing to go into secondary schools, after they have completed their primary schooling. To gain admission into the universities (both public and private universities are in every state of the federation including the FCT), a prospective student has to sit for and successfully pass the UME (Universities Matriculation Examination) which is administered by JAMB (Joint Admission and Matriculation Board). Also individual universities regularly screen prospective candidates to make sure they are up to par for university level work.
Working in Nigeria can be a very positive experience. Nigerian organizations tend to operate like small families, taking in newcomers with open arms and avoiding the coolness and sterility that often characterize the Western professional work environment. For instance, don't even think about coming into the office in the morning without greeting each of your colleagues. Even if you don't, be sure that they will go out of their way to greet you and inquire about your well-being.
It is hard to make generalizations about a country with 140 million inhabitants, but some Nigerians have a work ethic that would put most Westerners to shame. An eight-hour day (not including lunch) seems to be the norm, though it's not uncommon for people to stay late into the night and even come in for a few hours on weekends. Depending on the organization, a foreigner may be able to avoid this, but one should be prepared to work beyond the standard 35-40 hr work week.
The notion of "African time" applies very much to the work environment in Nigeria. Meetings are regularly held later than scheduled and often take longer than necessary. Although Nigerians will unabashedly admit to their habitual tardiness, rarely does one see efforts to correct this behavior. The higher ones position, the later one may arrive at a meeting. On top of that, starting the meeting before the important people arrive is very rude--a common principle shared with many Western countries. When dealing with foreign organizations, Nigerians will often make some efforts to correct this behaviour, for some Nigerians are aware that their conception of punctuality is not shared by all.
Those who are used to the strict North American conception of political correctness at the office may be shocked by the more liberal inter-sexual relations in the Nigerian workplace. Mild sexual jokes are common in meetings and in the office in general, though usually good natured and harmless. A white person working in an all-Nigerian workplace should also be prepared to frequently be reminded of their skin tone, though never in a nasty way. This can become tiresome, but Nigerians are generally very friendly. They use the term "Oyibo" (white man in Yoruba) or "Bature" (white man in Hausa) as a form of affection.
The use of professional titles in written and verbal form is very common in Nigeria. Expect to address your boss as Sir, Doctor, Colonel, etc., and avoid using the first name of a superior unless given permission to do so. Being a foreigner, you will be forgiven for any faux pas, but it is always best to err on the side of caution and politeness.
The mobile phone (cell phone) is an essential tool for virtually all urban - and most rural - Nigerians. Because of the many local networks, many people have two or even three "handsets", each on a different network. Anyone doing business in the country for more than a few days should consider having a mobile phone.
Nigeria is not really dangerous destination with the level of crime greatly exaggerated by the media. Crime levels are fairly high, particularly in Lagos. The far north eastern regions of Nigeria is troubled by the Boko Haram jihadist group which is known for its attacks on non-Muslims and taking the law into their own hands. This Islamist group is also known for its harsh interpretation of sharia law which includes flogging. Boko Haram attacks Christians and proselytizers so avoid traveling to the north east in large groups.
The Niger delta area is unsafe for tourists. There is continual low-level violence between government and militant groups, and there have been several kidnappings of foreign oil workers.
Homosexual sex acts are illegal. LGBT travellers should take extra caution when travelling to Nigeria, especially in the North, where sharia law implementation can be strict. Both gays and lesbians can be executed, but are more likely to be imprisoned. In fact, a law that has been wildly popular among Muslim and Christian Nigerians alike has made it a crime to know that someone is homosexual and not report it to the authorities.
Travellers to Nigeria are required to vaccinate themselves against yellow fever, preferably 10 days before arrival in Nigeria. As malaria is prevalent, malaria pills and mosquito nets are also recommended. Polio vaccination in Nigeria is intermittent and there is a high rate of infection in the North.
Beware of drinking the water sold in plastic bags. Some of them haven't been boiled. The bottled water and other soft drinks are safe. Swan water is the safe drinking water to look for approx ₦80 for a big bottle. The cheap "pure water" sold in plastic bags is cheaper but not as "pure" as Eva water, a brand by Coca Cola Company, or Nestle water by Nestle Nigeria. It is also of extreme importance not to buy water outside good-looking shops.
It is advisable to purchase bottled water from convenience stores rather than by the roadside. These upscale convenience stores usually purchase their supplies directly from the suppliers, along with soft drinks such as Coca Cola and other bottled beverage products.
For the latest traveller's health information pertaining to Nigeria, including advisories and recommendations, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Nigeria destination website.
Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Non-Muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.
If you're planning to travel to Nigeria during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.
If you are speaking the language, some of the languages have different ways for someone to address someone older than themselves. You do not hand things over to people, especially adults and people older than you, with your left hand. It's considered an insult.
You don't cross or jump over someone's legs if they are sitting with the legs extended out. It's considered bad luck.
Avoid shaking hands with elders and older people in non Igbo villages. It's disrespectful to do that. Can you bow down a little? Kneeling or genuflecting for women or prostrating by men (especially among the Yoruba) is the normal thing to do. You may not need to do it either, but just show some form of respect when greeting older people. You can get away with not doing that in big cities or urban areas, they are less traditional there.
When entering a house in the predominantly Muslim North, you have to let them know in advance that you are visiting so that the women can prepare (cover themselves up). Some Islamic customs require women to cover their hair and bodies to other men and this is practiced in the North. Knock on the door and wait to be answered before going in. They will ask you to wait while the women are informed. Do not be offended by the wait.
The country code for Nigeria is 234.
Dialing out from Nigeria: you will need to dial +9 (followed by the) International Code (followed by the) phone digit numbers.
Dialing into Nigeria: callers use +234 (followed by the) phone digit numbers. There is also a company in Nigeria called Elixir Communication Worldwide that offers mobile phones for the blind and visually challenged. All the mobile operators have a roaming agreement with other mobile operators around the world.
- Travel north to Niger, and into the Sahara Desert.
- Travel east to Cameroon, for some mountain climbing.
- Travel west to Benin, the best way out when travelling to Europe overland.
- Travel northeast to Chad.