Nigeria at a Glance
Living in Nigeria
It is a matter of debate just how many people currently live in Nigeria; numbers range from anywhere between 140 million to 175 million. At the time of the latest census, there were an estimated 250 different ethnic groups in Nigeria, with many different languages, customs, and religions. Due to this rich ethnic diversity, the national identity is very heterogeneous.
The three largest ethnicities are Hausa and Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo. These groups account for a total of 68% of all people living in the country. As far as religions go, a rule of thumb is that most people in the north are Muslims (with some regions having instated Sharia law), whereas the South is mostly Christian. The numbers are split up almost evenly, with 50% and 40% of the people living in Nigeria being Muslim and Christian, respectively.
The variety of languages exceeds the ethnic diversity by far: more than 500 languages are estimated to exist in Nigeria. Many ethnic groups speak more than one language. Although English is the official language of Nigeria, one cannot expect fluency from every Nigerian local. However, expats in Nigeria’s larger cities should have no problem when speaking English with the local population.
Nigeria: Expatriate Population
As the nation is home to many international corporations, particularly in the oil industry, people of many different nationalities opt for expat life there. There are large expat communities of Brits, US-Americans, East Indians, Japanese, and Greeks. People hailing from Arab countries such as Syria and Lebanon are numerously represented as well. Many foreign workers from China help improve everyday life in Nigeria by advancing the nation’s railway connections.
Nigeria: Infrastructural Challenges
Life in Nigeria is strongly shaped by the many infrastructural challenges of the country. You will have to get used to frequent power outages during your time in Nigeria. Only about 40% of households have access to electricity, and even then, often only for a few hours a day. Even in the most prestigious areas in Lagos and Abuja, diesel generators are a common sight. Telephone – and subsequently, Internet – connections are very patchy. This is why cell phones are hugely popular amongst the Nigerian populace.
Nigeria: Existential Problems
However, there are even more pressing issues for many people living in Nigeria: the inadequate supply of safe water and the high prices of many consumer goods. For the 70% of the population living below the poverty line, the imported food Nigeria depends on is simply too expensive. Even in cities, only 60% of households have access to clean fresh water making life in Nigeria a struggle at times.
Nigeria is a country full of extremes, and, as is often the case in developing economies, the immense wealth of a minority comes at the expense of the masses, particularly in the countryside. The many infrastructural problems, including the quality of roads (see page 2 of this article), are a huge burden on the nation’s economic potential. Ultimately, they can also affect the quality of life in Nigeria.