Top events in Nigeria

September
01

Held in a different Nigerian city each year, Africa International Film Festival was founded in 2010 to bring West African film to the global arena...

September
01

Nigeria's emerging fashion scene is taking the rest of the world by storm, and there's no better place to check out new collections from...

October
20

Port Harcourt may be better known for its oil than its literature, but the city was nominated by UNESCO as a world book capital and its streets...

Lekki Market, Nigeria
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Lekki Market, Nigeria

© Creative Commnos / shawn-i-am

Nigeria Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

923,768 sq km (356,669 sq miles).

Population

166.2 million (2012).

Population density

174 per sq km.

Capital

Abuja.

Government

Republic. Gained independence from the UK in 1960.

Head of state

President Goodluck Jonathan since 2010.

Head of government

President Goodluck Jonathan since 2010.

Electricity

240 volts AC, 50Hz. British-style plugs with three square pins are most commonly used.

From the loud laughter of traffic-choked Lagos to the green-fringed villages that line rivers and streams, Nigeria is one of the most exciting places to visit in Africa.

Once known only for oil and chaos, the country is changing rapidly. It has a rising middle class, a dynamic arts scene and more miles of golden sand than you can shake a bucket and spade at. Its national parks are home to some of the last remaining endangered species in West Africa, while its mountains offer a cooler climate and spectacular views of the most populous country in Africa.

Those 166 million people are as diverse as the nation itself; in the north, you'll see men in colourful Muslim dress lining prayer mats on Fridays, while their southern counterparts play checkers before church. The cuisine too is varied; there are hot and spicy dishes, fresh fish and meat, and yet fast food and imported dishes too.

But Nigeria's greatest asset - its wealth of native races and religions, its vibrant population - have also proven its downfall on countless explosive occasions, and military overthrows, coups and assassinations have been numerous. Apart from the dire economic situation, there was growing religious conflict. A particular problem was the decision of several local and regional governments in the mainly Muslim north to introduce a version of Islamic Shari'a law, very unpopular amongst non-Muslim minorities. Hundreds were killed in inter-communal clashes in 2000 and again in 2002. The government may be more stable than it once was, but tensions between the Muslim north and the more Christian south boil over often, and sadly security is now an issue when travelling to the north.

Yet, for all its domestic difficulties, Nigeria remains the major regional power and its troops intervened in a number of conflicts throughout West Africa during the 1990s. Regional stability of the West African region has become a major international issue in recent years since the discovery of new oil and gas deposits in West African waters, and Nigeria is now the continent's biggest oil producer. Its economy, too, is booming and in 2014 it overtook South Africa with the biggest GDP - at US $509bn - on the continent.

If you're looking for a quiet, easy travel destination, Nigeria isn't it, but if you want to feel the excitement of an emerging country, this land will blow you away. Dance the night away at a Nigerian wedding party, sip champagne with up and coming supermodels, buy art in the hipster Lagos district of Yabi, and then head into the mountains for some down time beneath cascading waterfalls. Nigeria is loud and brash, but it also has a quieter, more reflective side that deserves to be seen. In fact it has so many faces that at times it feels more like a continent than a single country, and the only way to experience it is to go.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 26 August 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

  • Borno State
  • Yobe State
  • Adamawa State
  • Bauchi State
  • Gombe State
  • Kano city
  • Okene City
  • Riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Cross River States
  • Warri city

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to: 

  • Kano State
  • Kaduna State
  • Jigawa State
  • Katsina State
  • Sokoto State
  • Zamfara State
  • Kebbi State
  • Jos city in Plateau State
  • Riyom and Barkin Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State
  • Okene region of Kogi State
  • Non-riverine areas of Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers and Akwa Ibom States
  • Abia State

There is a high threat from terrorism. In the past few weeks there have been explosive attacks in Damaturu, Kano, Jos, Kaduna, Abuja and Lagos, with multiple casualties. You should avoid public places where crowds gather including religious gatherings and insecure public spaces such aslike markets and transport hubs.

A heavy security presence often indicates areas of particularly high risk.

There were a series of bomb attacks in Kano and Kaduna prior to the Eid long weekend (from 25 – 28 July) and in Kano over the Eid long weekend, and a further bomb was exploded in Kano on 30 July.

Boko Haram regularly mounts attacks in northern Nigeria. The majority of attacks occur in the north east, particularly in Borno and Yobe states where Boko Haram’s operating base is. There has, however, been a significant number of attacks in other Nigerian states and further attacks could occur anywhere.

Boko Haram issued a video on 19 February threatening to attack oil installations and oil workers in the Niger Delta region of south-east Nigeria.

There is a high threat of kidnap throughout Nigeria. Recent terrorist kidnaps have occurred mostly in northern Nigeria, but could occur anywhere in Nigeria. Kidnaps can be for financial or political gain, and can be motivated by criminality or terrorism.

The level of consular assistance available to British nationals in areas where the FCO advise against all or all but essential travel is limited.

The Nigerian authorities have issued a statement confirming cases, including deaths, of Ebola virus disease. On 8 August President Jonathan declared a national state of emergency.

On 8 August the World Health Organisation (WHO) released a statement following a meeting of the International Health Regulation Emergency Committee, declaring the Ebola outbreak a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’. This includes a recommendation that there should be no general ban on international travel or trade, and that in states with Ebola transmission:

  • the Head of State should declare a national emergency
  • the State should activate its national disaster/emergency management
    mechanisms
  • the State should conduct exit screening of all persons at international
    airports, seaports and major land crossings
  • there should be no international travel of Ebola contacts or cases, unless
    the travel is part of an appropriate medical evacuation

The Nigerian government has introduced measures for passengers departing from and arriving at all airports. These measures may cause delays. Consider allowing extra time to pass through airport checks to make sure you catch your flight.

Although the chances of being infected remain low, there are measures you can take to prevent catching Ebola. You should follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre. For further details about this outbreak of Ebola, see the World Health Organisation website and this map showing the areas affected.

Anybody concerned that they might have been exposed to, or showing symptoms of Ebola, should seek immediate medical advice. If you’re in the UK, call NHS 111.

Demonstrations and civil unrest can occur at short notice. Follow news reports and be alert to developments. If you become aware of any nearby protests you should leave the area immediately. A number of curfews are in force.

Before considering any travel, take professional security advice. Be vigilant at all times, keep others informed of your travel plans and vary your routines. You should follow your employer’s security advice, make sure your accommodation is secure and review your security measures regularly.

Violent crime is common in the south of the country, including Lagos.

Flash flooding can occur during the wet season (June to October). There is a greater risk from water-borne diseases during the rainy season.

Around 117,000 British nationals visit Nigeria each year. 

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