The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a country in West Africa and the most populous country in Africa. Nigeria is bounded by the Republic of Benin to the west, Niger to the north, Chad to the northeast, Cameroon to the east and the Gulf of Guinea to the south. Since 1991, its capital has been the centrally-located city of Abuja; previously, the Nigerian government was headquartered in Lagos.
The people of Nigeria have an extensive history, and based on archaeological evidence, human habitation of the area dates back to at least 9000 BC. The Benue-Cross River area is thought to be the original homeland of the Bantu migrants who spread across most of central and southern Africa in waves between the 1st millennium BC and the 2nd millennium AD. However, the Nigerian state came into being on October 1, 1960 when Nigeria declared its independence from the British and at present consists of 36 states and the federal capital territory. Nigeria re-achieved democracy in 1999 after a sixteen-year interruption by a series of military dictators who seized power in coups d'état and counter-coups.
It is now a country struggling to contain the sum of its parts within a democratic framework. A chronic crime problem, religious intolerance, large-scale unemployment and overcrowding in poor living conditions regularly push the rule of law to the brink. Despite this, there is still an unfaltering optimisim among Nigerians that their proud nation will indeed win through.
The very thing that makes Nigeria so strong-willed and difficult to unite into a single peaceful republic is also its attraction. There are over 250 different peoples, languages, histories and religions, all rubbing shoulder to shoulder in this hectic, colourful and often volatile republic.
Nigeria is also the place to go if you're into music. The country is constantly pounding to the rhythms of traditional African juju music, Afrobeat and reggae. Although this is by no means an easy destination, it can be highly rewarding for those who are intrepid enough.