The Federal Republic of Nigeria is located in the Western part of Africa, bordered by countries such as Niger in the north, Chad in the northeast, Cameroon in the east, and Benin in the west. It covers a total area of 356,667 sq mi (923,768 sq km). The country has a rich history that can be traced as far back as 1100 BC. This well predates the arrival of the first white men in this part of the world.

Several ancient African civilizations once thrived in this region, the likes of the Oyo and Benin Empires. Islam, the most widely practised religion in Africa came into what is today known as Nigeria through the North, precisely through the Borno Empire and the Hausa states between 1068 BC and 1385 AD.

Christianity was introduced to Nigeria by the Portuguese. The modern Nigerian state came into existence as a result of British colonial rule. The 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Nigeria protectorates birthed the current configuration.

Some Facts About Nigeria

Nigeria is named after the River Niger which flows throughout the country. Flora Shaw who later got married to Lord Lugard is credited with coming up with the name. The country was officially named in 1914 by Lord Lugard.

Nigeria is popularly known as the giant of Africa not because of its landmass but because of its huge population. With a population estimated to exceed 200 million, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation. It is the 7th most populous country in the world. Majority of its population identify with Islamic religion but a very significant proportion are Christians while a minor percentage identify as traditionalists.

Nigeria is one of the most diverse countries in the world with its multi-ethnic setup. Over 500 indigenous languages are spoken throughout the country with Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo being the most widely spoken. The official language in Nigeria is the English Language.

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The Benin walls are the largest man-made structure in terms of length. The walls are located in the city of Benin which today serves as the capital of Edo state. The walls are believed to have been constructed between 800AD and 1400AD. The walls helped to protect the ancient Kingdom of Benin.

The largest diversity of butterflies is found in Calabar the capital of Cross-river state. Over 300 species of butterfly are found at the Cross River National Park.

Some bird species are exclusive to Nigeria, these include the Indigo bird found only in Jos plateau and the Anambra waxbill bird found only in the southern parts of Nigeria.

The Yoruba tribe in the southwestern part of the country are renowned for multiple births. The Yorubas give birth to most twins in the world at a rate of 5%. The town of Igbo-ora in Oyo state in Oyo state is regarded as the twin capital of the world. An unusual number of twin births occur in the town. The reason for this is yet to be ascertained.

The Nigerian movie industry produces the second-highest number of movies behind India’s Bollywood.
The country was once in a civil war that lasted from July 1967 to January 1970.

Pre-Independence Nigeria

Nigeria fell under British colonial rule on the 31st of December 1899 when the charter for the Royal Niger Company was revoked by the British Government. The sum of 865,000 British pounds was paid to the Royal Niger Company as compensation.

The Southern Nigeria Protectorate and the Northern Nigeria Protectorate were created on the 1st of January 1900. In 1914, the country was formed in its present shape as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. For ease of administration, the country remained divided into the Northern and Southern Provinces and Lagos colony. After World War II, demands for Nigerian independence were made and the British Government gradually moved Nigeria towards self-government on a representative and increasingly federal basis through successive constitutions. The colony became the autonomous Federation of Nigeria on 1st October 1954. Following the wave of independence sweeping across the African continent, Britain agreed to grant Nigeria independence on 28th October 1958.

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When Did Nigeria Become Independent

The dream of actualizing self-rule in Nigeria became a reality on the 1st of October 1960 as the country became independent on that day. Full independence was granted to Nigeria on that day under a constitution that provided for parliamentary government and a substantial measure of self-government for all 3 regions that made up Nigeria then.

When Did Nigeria Become A Republic

Three years after gaining independence, Nigeria became a republic on the 1st of October, 1963.

Post-Independence Nigeria

Following the proclamation of Nigeria as a federal republic in 1963, Dr Nnamdi Azikwe became the country’s first president. On Jan 15, 1966, Nigeria experienced its first military coup, bringing an end to the first republic.

Following the coup, the military took over control of the country, under the leadership of General Aguiyi Irosi. Another coup took place in July 1966 which led to the emergence of Major General Yakubu Gowon as Head of State. Various issues led to the declaration of independence of the eastern region as Biafra republic by Lt. Col. Emeka Ojukwu. This plunged the country into a civil war that lasted almost three years.

After the war ended, the country forged ahead, united in its quest for economic development. Soon, another coup was staged, this time bloodless on July 29, 1975. General Yakubu Gowon was overthrown and replaced by General Mohammed. His rule was however short-lived as he was killed in an abortive coup on 13th February 1976. He was replaced as Head of State by Lt. General Olusegun Obasanjo. The Obasanjo regime gave way for civilian rule in 1979 when Alhaji Shehu Shagari was elected president. On December 31, 1983, the military struck again, ending the second republic. Major General Muhammadu Buhari emerged the country’s new leader. He was soon booted out of office by General Ibrahim Babangida. Babangida ruled until 27th August 1993 when he handed the reins of power to Ernest Shonekan who was to rule until elections were held in February 1994. His rule didn’t last as long as planned as he was forced to resign by General Sani Abacha on 17th November 1993. Abacha died in office on 8th June 1998 as a result of heart failure. He was replaced by General Abdusalami Abubakar who handed over power to a democratically elected President on May 29, 1999. President Olusegun Obasanjo ruled for 8 years before handing over to the ate Umaru Musa Yar’Adua on May 29, 2007.

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Yar’Adua died in office and his death was officially announced in May 2010. His vice, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was sworn in as President. Jonathan ruled the country until 2015 when he lost his re-election bid to current President, Muhammadu Buhari.


This article briefly discusses about Nigeria’s history, touching on key events such as when the country gained independence. Now you know when Nigeria gained independence as well as a few fun facts about this amazing country.

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