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.