Nigeria : Society


Population density (per sq. km): 


Life expectancy: 
53 years
Primary enrolment: 
64% (2010)

173,615,000 (2013); 46 per cent of people live in urban areas and 15 per cent in urban agglomerations of more than one million people; growth 2.6 per cent p.a. 1990–2013; birth rate 41 per 1,000 people (47 in 1970); life expectancy 53 years (40 in 1970).

Nigeria is one of the most ethnically diverse countries. There are some 250 ethnic groups, with the Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo making up 70 per cent.


English (official language), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo and more than 200 other languages and dialects.


Muslims (mainly in the north and west) 50 per cent, Christians (mainly in the south) 40 per cent, and the rest holding traditional beliefs.


Public spending on health was two per cent of GDP in 2012. Some 64 per cent of the population uses an improved drinking water source and 28 per cent have access to adequate sanitation facilities (2012). There are 18 university teaching hospitals in Nigeria (2014). Infant mortality was 74 per 1,000 live births in 2013 (123 in 1960). In 2013, 3.2 per cent of people aged 15–49 were HIV positive.


There are nine years of compulsory education starting at the age of six. Primary school comprises six years and secondary six, with two cycles each of three years. Some 80 per cent of pupils complete primary school (2009). The school year starts in September.

By October 2013, the National Universities Commission had accredited 40 federal universities, 38 state universities and 51 private universities, including four federal universities of technology, three federal universities of agriculture and the National Open University of Nigeria. The longest-established universities are the University of Ibadan (1948); University of Nigeria (Nsukka,1960); Ahmadu Bello University (Zaria,1962); University of Lagos (1962); and Obafemi Awolowo University (Ile-Ife, 1962). The first state university, Rivers State University of Science and Technology, was founded in 1979 and the first private universities, in 1999. Literacy among people aged 15–24 is 72 per cent (2010).

In 1968 Nigeria hosted the Fourth Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in Lagos. Commonwealth Education Ministers meet every three years to discuss issues of mutual concern and interest.


There are more than 100 national and regional newspapers, some state-owned, as well as Sunday papers, business weeklies and news magazines. Established titles with national distribution include Champion (Lagos), Daily Independent (Lagos), The Sun (Lagos), The Daily Times (Lagos), Daily Trust (Abuja), The Guardian (Lagos), Leadership (Abuja), New Nigerian (government- owned with Lagos and Kaduna editions), Newswatch (weekly), The Punch, Tell (weekly), This Day (Lagos) and Vanguard (Lagos).

The Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria and Nigerian Television Authority provide national and regional public radio and TV services respectively. The state governments in all 36 states provide radio and TV services. A number of private radio and TV stations are operating, TV mainly in the urban areas.

Some 40 per cent of households have TV sets (2010). There are nine personal computers per 1,000 people (2005).


Country code 234; internet domain ‘.ng’. Mobile phone coverage is expanding. There are internet cafés in Lagos.

For every 1,000 people there are two landlines, 733 mobile phone subscriptions and 380 internet users (2013).

Public holidays: 

New Year’s Day, Workers’ Day (1 May), National Day (1 October), Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Religious festivals whose dates vary from year to year include Mouloud (Prophet’s Birthday), Good Friday, Easter Monday, Eid al- Fitr (End of Ramadan, three days) and Eid al-Kabir (Feast of the Sacrifice).