Nigeria, known as “the Giant of Africa”, is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world. The name Nigeria was taken from the Niger River running through the country. This name was coined by Flora Shaw,
Nigeria has over 250 different ethnic groups, all with their own languages and heritage.
The largest groups are the Hausa in the north, the Yoruba in the southwest and the Igbo in the southeast, who account for around a fifth of the population each. The languages of these three groups can therefore be used in government. Other large groups include the Ijaw in the east and the Fulani in the north.
Nigeria is divided into 36 states. In the 13 northern states, the vast majority of people are Muslim. The Hausa have been Muslims for many years, having been converted to Islam by Arab traders and merchants from the 10th century.
In the southern states, the majority of Nigerians are Christian, while some groups continue to practice indigenous beliefs. Generally, religion is taken very seriously. Most people will attend church on a Sunday and make frequent references to God or Jesus in everyday conversation.
Southern indigenous faiths centre around a belief in spirits and also in a supreme being or creator, known as Chineke/Chukwu by Igbo people.