NIGERIA : GEOGRAPHICAL PRESENTATION


As a tropical country situated in West Africa, Nigeria is limited by Benin in the north, by Cameroon in the East, by the Atlantic ocean in the South, and shares a small border with Tchad in the Northeast. This country spreads on 923 770 km², an area largely devoted to agricultural activities which gathers one fifth of the sub-Saharan population, namely 108 945 000 inhabitants. To have such a great population has won Nigeria the name of demographic giant. The population is scattered in three main areas which result from the federal organisation: the North, centred on the Hausa region, the southwest on the Yoruba region and the southeast on the Igbo region. There are few links between these areas and even the great waterway shaped by the Niger and Benue rivers cannot structure the land. Because of the federal system created in 1914, many disparities exist between the main areas, some of them concentrating all the resources, either economic, human or climatic as it is the case in the northwest. As a result, it is the whole structure which is weakened by this imbalance.


If Nigeria represents one fifth of the African gross domestic product (GDP) and is a major pole in the black continent, it has to prove its abilities to enter the group of the new industrialized countries.


So, though Nigeria is flourishing in many respect, the country has to face some difficulties.


1- A FLOURISHING COUNTRY DOMINATED BY A POWERFUL NORTHWEST :


A/ Weather and Climate : the advantages of a tropical country :


With its almost even relief and thanks to its position near the tropics, Nigeria benefits from high temperatures, quite stable over the year ( 26-28°C).


Humidity is high there especially on the coast where precipitations amount to 3800 mm. They start in January in the south and move progressively towards the north where they decrease to 650 mm. It rains in Nigeria during six full months except in the south, characterised by a very short dry season in July- august . Beyond the Niger-Benue confluence and the Middle Belt, start the area of tropical climates defined by the simple alternation between humid and dry season. The latter is longer and longer when approaching the north. Similarly, as has been seen, precipitations become less frequent. Near the Tchad lake near the northeast border, precipitations are insufficient to provides enough food for the whole population. Temperatures can reach more than 40°C there.


The contrasts of precipitations correspond to the various types of climatic vegetal formation : thick forests in the south, bright forests and savannas in the north.





B/ Population and Urbanization : notion of gigantism


1- Nigeria's population is about twice the size of that of the next largest country in Africa, Egypt, which had an estimated mid-1989 population of 52 million. Nigeria represents about 20 percent of the total population of sub-Saharan Africa. The population is unevenly distributed, however, a large percentage of the total number live within several hundred kilometres of the coast but population is also dense along the northern river basin areas such as Kano and Sokoto. Population densities, especially in the southwest near Lagos and the rich agricultural regions around Enugu and Owerri, exceed 400 inhabitants per kilometre. In contrast, other areas of Nigeria are sparsely populated and have apparently remained so for a considerable time. This is the case for instance on the Niger banks. The uneven distribution has been accentuated by the rapidity of urbanization.


2- There is a strong relation between towns and countries and migrations from rural to urban areas have accelerated in recent decades. Estimates of urban dwellers reveal that in 1952, 11 percent of the total population was classified as urban; today, more that 32 percent. Though rural areas are starting the urbanization of their lifestyle, many peasants leave the country to find work and better life conditions in towns. Among the people taking part in this exodus are the Igbo fleeing overcrowded areas. It must be underlined that sometimes the population of the towns result from migrations between cities. This reveals the emergence of an authentic urban society. However, nowadays some of the new city-dwellers are going back to the small towns and the rural areas. In 1931-1953, the annual growth rate reached 4 or 5 percent. Between