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

174.5 million (2013).

Population density

188.9 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.

Nigeria is blessed with hundreds of miles of coastline, national parks and fascinating ancient sites. However, it is a shame that the country is not currently able to entice visitors other than those seeking a slice of the oil dollar.

Nigeria's greatest asset - its wealth of native races and religions, its vibrant population, the largest of any country in Africa - have also proven its downfall on countless explosive occasions.

In the 15th century, the Portuguese began trading but, by the end of the 19th century, the British had conquered present-day Nigeria. After gradual internal self-government, full independence was achieved in 1960. Since then, the country has endured numerous changes of government. Nigeria's army has chosen to intervene on several occasions to thwart a perceived threat to the integrity of the nation. The greatest crisis came about in the mid-1960s, when the eastern part of the country - styling itself the 'Republic of Biafra' - attempted to secede. A three-year (1967-70) civil war followed, at the end of which the secessionists were defeated. Nevertheless, military overthrow, coups and assassination followed over many years.

After the annulled 1993 elections, Sani Abacha emerged as the new military strongman and presided over an increasingly oppressive regime. Then, in 1998, Abacha suddenly died. Another member of the military junta, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, took over and moved quickly to shed the country's pariah status by organising elections. The victor, standing for the People's Democratic Party (PDP), was the former military ruler of the 1970s, Olusegun Obasanjo.The inexperienced civilian government faced a formidable task.

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. Tensions have been so high that almost any dispute can set off a spate of violence. 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 recent events in the Middle East.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 18 April 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

A bomb attack on a bus station in the Nyanya area of Abuja on 14 April resulted in the deaths of over 70 people and injured over a 100 people.

On 14 May 2013, the Nigerian Government declared a State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States. Military operations are now ongoing in the 3 States and curfews have been announced.

There is a high threat from terrorism. There is a threat of retaliatory attacks following the declared state of emergency and subsequent military operations in Nigeria. You should be particularly vigilant around religious and public holidays, remain alert, pay attention to your environment and avoid crowded places.

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 we advise against all or all but essential travel is limited.

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. 

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Edited by Jane Duru
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