Nigeria Overview Part I

Physical geography

The most populous of the countries on the African continent, Nigeria is also one of the most advanced and diversified economies. Although hampered by the enormous cultural heterogeneity of its population, its expectation of development is fueled by the wealth of oil and the rise of an educated class focused on Western values.

West African country, a member of the British Commonwealth of Nations, Nigeria occupies an area of ​​923,768 km2. According to, it is limited to the north with Niger, to the northeast with Lake Chad, to the east with Shrimp, to the south with the Gulf of Guinea and to the west with Benin.

Geology and relief

The relief of Nigeria is made up of several very eroded surfaces: plateaus with altitudes between 600 and 1,200 m, located between them, plains that generally correspond to the basins of the main rivers. The coastal areas, including the Niger delta, the Lake Chad basin and the western part of the Sokoto region, have recent sedimentary rocks. There are little hilly plateaus in this area. In most of the southwest and the central-north region, the relief is of plateaus torn by shallow and wide valleys, dotted with inselbergs, rocky mountains carved by erosion.

In the sandy plateaus located in the region close to the confluence of the Niger and Benuê rivers, isolated domes and elongated mountain ranges occur. To the northeast of the Niger delta, in the Nsukka-Okigwe cuesta, the Enugu escarpment rises steeply, about 200m above the Cross River plain. Another type of relief is the large lava surfaces dotted with extinct volcanoes, the plateaus of Jos and Biu.


Near the coast, in the south, temperatures rarely exceed 32o C, but the humidity is very high and the rainy season lasts almost all year. Inland, the rainy season runs from April to October and the dry season from November to March, with summer temperatures that often exceed 38oC. The dry season in northern Nigeria, of approximately eight months, is dominated by Sahara wind, hot and rough, which they call the harmatan. The average rainfall ranges from 1,800 to 3,000 mm in the coastal strip to an index of just 500 mm in the far north.


The three largest drainage basins in Nigerian territory are that of Niger-Benuê, that of Lake Chad, and the coastal one, of the Gulf of Guinea. Niger and its largest tributary, Benuê, are the largest rivers in the country. Niger has many rapids and waterfalls; Benuê is navigable to the fullest extent, except in the summer. The main rivers in the northern area of ​​the Niger-Benuê basin are Sokoto, Kaduna and Gongola, and the rivers that flow into Lake Chad. Short-course rivers, which flow into the Gulf of Guinea, bathe coastal areas. Projects to exploit the basins ended up creating large artificial lakes, such as Kainji, in Niger, and Bakolori, in Rima.

The Niger Delta is an immense region of plains, through which the waters flow into the Gulf of Guinea. Lakes formed by river elbows, meanders and dams form the local landscape. There are large freshwater marshes with mangroves near the coast.

Flora and fauna

Along the coast and in the Niger delta, fresh and brackish water marshes occur which a few kilometers later give way to tropical forests. In the most densely populated regions, forest vegetation has been replaced by palm trees. In the southwest, large areas have been cleared for the planting of cocoa and rubber.

Dotted with baobabs, tamarind trees and carob trees, the savannah occupies the area north of the forest zone. In the extreme north, it becomes more open and has short grass, with sparse and withered trees. The Lake Chad region presents semi-desert conditions, with several species of acacia and African palm. Riparian forests are also common in the open savannah of the northern region. In areas of greater population density, such as Sokoto, Kano and Katsina, human intervention – in the form of burning and land depletion – remains with little vegetation. As a result, there is a gradual advance of the Sahara desert in the districts of northern Nigeria.

The typically African fauna includes camels, antelopes, hyenas, lions and giraffes in the savannahs, and elephants, gorillas, chimpanzees (one of the rare countries in which these species occur), a wide variety of birds and reptiles in the rainforest. There are also leopards, many other types of monkeys, spotted wolves and phaco (warthogs) both in the savannah and in the forest. In the northern savanna, the guinea fowl exists in profusion. In the rivers, the number of crocodiles and hippos is enormous.

Nigeria geography