Africa Snapshot: Nigeria

Nigeria has the largest population of any country in the U.S. Africa Command Area of Responsibility, and it’s one of the countries most affected by malaria. More than 300,000 Nigerians — mostly children — die every year from the mosquito-borne disease, accounting for about one third of malaria deaths worldwide. At least half of Nigeria’s population will experience an attack of malaria each year. The World Bank, USAID and other international organizations have targeted Nigeria in their efforts to distribute mosquito nets to the hardest hit countries. As a result, Nigeria was the first country to distribute mosquito nets to its population free of charge. Nigeria is also challenged by a high rate of HIV/AIDS infections combined with a lack of doctors and hospital beds. Life expectancy is 52 years, compared with 78.49 in the U.S.

History: Written history in Nigeria goes back to 1000 AD. The country was a hub for the international slave trade, and later became a British territory. Independence was claimed in 1960, followed by civil war. A series of coups and political instability lasted for years, until the transition to a civilian government was made in 1999. The country is experiencing its longest-ever period of civilian rule.

Population: With more than 170 million people, Nigeria is the seventh largest country in the world.

Languages: English is the official language. More than 500 indigenous languages are spoken around the country.

Religion: Nigeria is 50 percent Muslim and 40 percent Christian. Ten percent of the population practices indigenous beliefs.

Economy: Nigeria is rich in oil, but its economy remains largely agricultural-based.

Security issues: Terrorist attacks by the violent extremist organization Boko Haram are on the rise.

U.S. partnerships: The annual exercise Obangame Express is conducted by U.S. Naval Forces Africa to improve maritime security. AFRICOM also partners with Nigeria on efforts to counter improvised explosive devices and facilitate interaction with civilians and the military in northern Nigeria, where Boko Haram supporters are concentrated.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations recently held a hearing on security, governance and trade in Nigeria. Click here to watch the testimony or read transcripts.

Sources: CIA Fact Book/Nigeria, The World Bank , U.S. State Department, International Federation of the Red CrossU.S. Africa Command 2012 Posture Statement


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