National Profiles > > Regions > Western Africa > Nigeria
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Region: Western Africa
2012 Population1: 168,833,776
Total Area (sq. miles)1: 351,650
Life Expectancy at Birth1: 52.0
Gross National Income Per Capita (PPP 2012 US $)1: $5,130
Official Religion(s) Or Church(es) 2: None

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Largest Religious Groups (Nigeria)


Government Regulation of Religion Index: Average government regulation score over ARDA researchers' coding of 2003, 2005 and 2008 U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Reports (0-10, lower means less regulation) Government Favoritism of Religion Index: Average government favoritism score over ARDA researchers' coding of 2003, 2005 and 2008 U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Reports (0-10, lower means less favoritism) Social Regulation of Religion Index: Average social regulation score over ARDA researchers' coding of 2003, 2005 and 2008 U.S. Department of State's International Religious Freedom Reports (0-10, lower means less regulation) Religious Persecution: Average number of people physically abused or displaced due to their religion according to U.S. Department of State's 2005 and 2008 International Religious Freedom Reports (as coded by ARDA researchers). 0 = None; 1 = 1-10; 2 = 11-20; 3 = 21-100; 4 = 101-500; 5 = 501-1000; 6 = 1001-5000; 7 = 5001-10000; 8 = 10001-50000; 9 = 50001-100000; 10 = greater than 100000.


Nigeria, officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Nigeria is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea in the Atlantic Ocean. Present-day Nigeria has been the site of numerous kingdoms and tribal states spanning over a millennium. The modern state has its origins in British colonization during the late 19th to early 20th centuries, with the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate. During the colonial period, the British set up administrative and legal structures whilst retaining traditional chiefdoms. Nigeria achieved independence in 1960, but plunged into a two-year civil war several years later. It has since alternated between democratically-elected civilian governments and military dictatorships, with its 2011 presidential elections being viewed as the first to be conducted reasonably freely and fairly. Nigeria is often referred to as the "Giant of Africa", owing to its large population and economy. With approximately 174 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world. Nigeria has one of the largest populations of youth in the world. The country is inhabited by over 500 ethnic groups, of which the three largest are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. Regarding religion, Nigeria is roughly divided in half between Christians, who live mostly in the southern and central parts of the country, and Muslims, concentrated mostly in the northern and southwestern regions. A minority of the population practice religions indigenous to Nigeria, such as those native to Igbo and Yoruba peoples. In 2014, Nigeria's economy (GDP) became the largest in Africa, worth more than $500 billion, and overtook South Africa to become the world's 21st largest economy. Furthermore, the debt-to-GDP ratio is only 11 percent (8 percent below the 2012 ratio). By 2050, Nigeria is expected to become one of the world's top 20 economies. The country's oil reserves have played a major role in its growing wealth and influence. Nigeria is considered to be an emerging market by the World Bank and has been identified as a regional power in Africa. It is also a member of the MINT group of countries, which are widely seen as the globe's next "BRIC-like" economies. It is also listed among the "Next Eleven" economies set to become among the biggest in the world. Nigeria is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the African Union, OPEC, and the United Nations among other international organizations.



Note: All country histories and flags were obtained from, 2015. (

1.  Relying on agencies from each country, as well as a synthesis of data from United Nations divisions, Eurostate Demographic statistics, the U.S. Census international database, and its own data collection, the World Bank’s Open Data site offers free and open access to data about development in countries around the globe.

2.  The U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report is submitted to Congress annually by the Department of State in compliance with Section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998. This report supplements the most recent Human Rights Reports by providing additional detailed information with respect to matters involving international religious freedom. It includes individual country chapters on the status of religious freedom worldwide. A dataset with these and the other international measures highlighted on the country pages can be downloaded from this website. These State Department reports are open source.

3.  The article by Brian Grim and Roger Finke describes the coding of the U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom reports. The 2003, 2005, and 2008 reports were coded by researchers at the Association of Religion Data Archives. The GRI, GFI and SRI values reported on the National Profiles are averages from the 2003, 2005, and 2008 International Religious Freedom reports, while the Religious Persecution measure is an average from the 2005 and 2008 reports. All other measures derived from the International Religious Freedom reports were coded from the reports 2008. A data file with all of the 2008 coding, as well as data files with other cross national collections are available for preview and download from the data archive on this site. Used with permission.

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