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Africa

 Jewel of

The African continent is comprised of 54 nations, each with its own independent government and sovereignty, GDP, culture, natural resources, language(s), military, and religion. The treasure trove of mineral and raw material wealth has scarcely been touched and the continent's largely untapped fertile lands could feed the world. Herewith is Jewel of Africa, an interactive adventure in the cradle of mankind, an exploration of nations from A-Z in alphabetical order.

Nigeria: Oil rich, affluent, 21st century ultra contempo

Nigeria, officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is the most populous country in Africa. Arch- aeological evidence shows that human habitation of the area dates back to at least 9000 B.C.E. The Benue-Cross River area is thought to be the original homeland of the Bantu-speaking migrants who spread across most of central and southern Africa in waves between the first millennium B.C.E. and the second millennium C.E.

On Oct. 1, 1960, Nigeria declared its independence from the United Kingdom after decades of colonial rule. Nigeria re-achieved democracy in 1999 after a 16-year interruption; from 1966 until 1999, Nigeria had largely been ruled by military dictators from 1966-1979 and 1983-1998.

 

Geography

                                                                                                                                                           Nigeria is located in western Africa on the Gulf of Guinea. The nation shares borders with the Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, Niger in the north, and borders the Gulf of Guinea in the south. Since 1991, its capital has been the centrally located city of Abuja. Previous- ly, the Nigerian government was headquartered in the coastal city of Lagos. Nigeria has a total area of 356,669 square miles; its size makes it the world's 32nd-largest country after Tanzania. It is comparable in size to Venezuela and is about twice the size of the state of California.

The highest point in Nigeria is Chappal Waddi at 7,936 feet. The Jos Plateau in the center of the country rises 900 to 2,000 feet above the surrounding plains. The weather on the plateau is cooler and wetter, and thus densely populated and used for agriculture. Nigeria has a varied landscape from the Obudu Hills in the southeast through the beaches in the south. The rainforest, Lagos estuary, and savanna in the middle and southwest of the country; and the Sahel and encroach- ing Sahara Desert in the extreme north.

Nigeria's main rivers are the Niger and the Benue, which converge and empty into the Niger Delta, the world's largest river delta. Nigeria shares Lake Chad with CameroonChad, and Niger.

Nigeria is also an important center for biodiversity. The areas surrounding Calabar, Cross River State, contain the world's largest diversity of butterflies. The drill monkey is only found in the wild in southeast Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon.

Flora and fauna

The most southerly part of the country is classified as "salt water swamp" or "mangrove swamp" because the vegetation consists primarily of mangroves. North of this is a fresh water swamp area containing salt-intolerant species such as the raffia palm, and north of this is rainforest. Further north again, the countryside becomes savanna with scattered groups of trees. A common species in riverine forests in the south is Brachystegia eurycoma.

These main zones can be further subdivided. The coastal swamp forest extends many miles inland and contains all eight West African species of mangrove, with Rhizophora racemosa being the dominant species on the outer edge, R. harrisonii in the central part and R. mangle on the inner edge. The mangrove swamps of the Niger Delta are estimated to be the breeding ground of 40 percent of the fish caught offshore.

 

The rainforest zone stretches inland for about 170 miles but its composition varies considerably, with rainfall decreasing from west to east and from south to north. In Omo Forest Reserve for example, the commonest trees are several species of DiospyrosTabernaemontana, pachysi- phonOctolobus angustatusStrombosia pustulataDrypetes gossweileriRothmania hispida,

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Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria, in the middle of the country, is populated by 3.6 million people. The skyline of the city was built largely in the 1980s. Other big cities in Nigeria reflecting its 21st century affluence and opulence include Lagos, 15.4 million people, the largest city in the nation, and Ocean City Lagos,  a special purpose indigenous company incorporated to carry out the business of residential and commercial real estate development (below top, bottom). Nigeria is a nation of 215.8 million people.

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Abuja National Mosque, also known as the Nigerian National Mosque, is the national mosque of Nigeria. The structure was built in 1984 and is open to the non-Muslim public, except during congregational prayers. The mosque is located on mosque is located on indepen- dence Avenue, across from the National Christian Centre. It includes a library and a confer- ence room equipped to accommodate 500 persons. It com- prises the office for the Islamic Cen- tre, and residential facilities for the imam and muezzin. The general con- tractors were Lodigiani Nigeria Ltd., while design consultancy was provided by AIM Consul- tants Ltd. A view from the inside (below). Manage- ment: After the demise of the Chief Imam, Sheikh Musa Muhammad, in 2017, the position of a Chief Imam was abolished. On Oct. 9 2017, four co-equal Imams were appointed in his place. The quartet of Sheikh Ahmad Onile-wura, Dr. Sheikh Muhammad Kabir Adam, Profes- sor Sheikh Ibrahim Ahmad Maqari, and Professor Shehu Ahmad Said Galadanci, was named the Imams of the mosque. Professor Galadanci doubles as the Murshid (grand instructor). Formally, the board of the management is headed by Dr. Ibrahim Dasuki, the 18th Sultan of Sokoto and president-general of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.

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The sophistication of Nigeria is evident in public venues like the Abuja Light Rail Station, a regional rail transport system in Nigeria. It is the first rapid transit system in the country and in West Africa and the second such system in the southern Africa region. The Abuja Metro Line was launched on 12 July 2018. Other exam- ples of Abuja wealth and affluence include the Fraser Suites Hotel, the Hawthorn Suites by Wyndham, and the Abuja World Trade Center, a commercial and residential luxury apartment complex

eight towers. 

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A 21st century transportation network from paved high volume freeways, the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria tasked with managing all commercial airports for both passenger and cargo airlines, and the Nigerian Railway Corporation with exclusive rights to operate railways in Nigeria, characterize travel throughout the nation..

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The Ngwo Pine Forest a pine forest near the center of the small town of Enugu, Nigeria, is a popular recreational area.

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The Gross Domestic Product in Nigeria at the end of was worth 152,32 trillion Naira (Nigeria currency) or 432.30 billion US dollars, according to official data from the World Bank. The GDP value of Nigeria represents 0.38 percent of the world economy. Impact of oil on Nigeria's gdp amounted to 9 percent as of Feb. 2021.

Nigeria's agricultural sec- tor contributes to a signi- ficant part of the country's GDP. Between July and September 2021, agricul- ture contributed to almost 30 percent of the total GDP, an increase of roughly 6 percentage point compared to the previous quarter. Agricul- ture is a key activity for the Nigerian economy after oil. Nevertheless, the agri- cultural sector provides livelihood for many Nig- Nigerians, whereas the wealth generated by oil reach a restricted share.

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The Nigerian people, all 215.8 million strong, are the nation's biggest resource and its future.  The Nigeria population is equivalent to 2.64 percent of the total world population, according to Worldometer of the latest United Nations data. Ten of the most populous cities in NigeriaLagos, Abuja, Kano, Ibadan, Kaduna, Port Harcourt, Benin City, Maidu, Zaria, and Aba, have in excess of 1 million people.

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Hunteria unbellataRinorea dentataVoacanga africana and Anthonotha aubryanum.

Where the rainforest grades into the savanna woodland, dominant trees include Burkea africanaTerminalia avicennioides and Detarium microcarpum. About one half of Nigeria is classified as Guinea savanna in the Guinean forest-savanna mosaic eco-region, characterized by scattered groups of low trees surrounded by tall grasses, with strips of gallery forest along the watercourses. Typical trees here are suited to the seasonally dry conditions and repeated wildfires and include Lophira lanceolataAfzelia africanaDaniellia oliveriBorassus aethiopumAnogeissus leiocarpaVitellaria paradoxaCeratonia siliqua and species of Isoberlinia.

A large number of different mammals are found in Nigeria with its diverse habitats. These include lionsleopards, cheetahs, mongooseshyenasside-striped jackalsAfrican elephantsAfrican buffaloesAfrican manatees, croc- odiles, pangolinsaardvarkswestern tree hyraxesbush babiesmonkeysbaboonswestern lowland gorillas, chimpanzeesbatsshrewsmiceratssquirrels, and gerbils. Besides these, many species of whale and dolphin visit Nigerian waters.

About 940 species of bird have been recorded in Nigeria, five of them endemic to the country. Each geographical zone has its typical bird species, with few being found in both forest and savanna. Around the Oba Dam, east of Ibadan, various waterfowl can be seen including several species of heron and egretAfrican pygmy goosecomb-crested jacanablack-winged stiltEgyptian plover and black crake.

In the adjoining rainforest, specialities include western square-tailed drongo and glossy-backed drongo, the Afri- can oriole and black-headed oriolespainted-snipe, several species of doveKlaas' and Diederik cuckoos, as well as kingfishersbee-eaters and rollers and bushshrikes, including the fiery-breasted bushshrike, flocks of irides- cent starlings, and several species of Malimbus, a genus only found in West Africa. Some birds found in open savanna include eagles, hawks, falcons, hooded vulturestone partridgeGuineafowlblack-billed wood dove, black cuckooblue-naped mousebird and Abyssinian roller. Birds endemic to Nigeria include the Ibadan malimbe, the Jos Plateau indigobird, the rock firefinch and the Anambra waxbill.

History, civilian rule

Abacha's death finally yielded an opportunity for return to civilian rule, and Nigeria elected Olusegun Obasanjo, a Yoruba and former military head of state, as the new president. This ended almost 33 years of military rule (from 1966 until 1999), excluding the short-lived second republic (between 1979 and 1983) by military dictators who seized power in coups d'état and counter-coups during the Nigerian military juntas of 1966-1979 and 1983–1998.

Although the elections that brought Obasanjo to power in 1999 and again in 2003 were condemned as unfree and unfair, Nigeria has shown marked improvements in attempts to tackle government corruption and to hasten development. Subsequent elections have run smoothly with relatively little violence or voter fraud.

Challenges facing the new government include unemployment, poverty, and crime. The Niger Delta, despite producing most of the nation's oil, receives only 13 percent of the revenue generated from oil sales. This perception of inequality has led to rebellions such as that of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).

Government and politics

Nigeria is a Federal Republic modeled after the US, with executive power exercised by the president and over- tones of the Westminster (UK) model in the composition and management of the upper and lower houses in the bicameral legislative branch.

The president presides as both chief of state and head of government and is elected by popular vote to a maximum of two four-year terms. The president's power is checked by a Senate and a House of Representatives, which are combined in a bicameral body called the National Assembly. The Senate is a 109-seat body with three members from each state and one from the capital region of Abuja; members are elected by popular vote to four-year terms. The House contains 360 seats and the number of seats per state is determined by population.

 

Ethno-centrism and sectarianism (especially religious) have played a dominant role in Nigerian politics prior to independence and afterward. Nigeria's three largest ethnic groups have maintained historical preeminence in Nigerian politics; competition among these three groups — the Hausa-FulaniYoruba, and Igbo, has fueled corruption and graft.

Systems of law

There are four distinct systems of law in Nigeria: English Law which is derived from its colonial past with Britain; Common law, a development of its postcolonial independence; Customary law, which is derived from indigenous traditional norms and practices; and Sharia law, used only in the predominantly Hausa and Muslim north of the country. Existent is a judicial branch with a Supreme Court, which is regarded as the highest court of the land. An Islamic legal system was first implemented in Zamfara State in late 1999; 11 other states followed suit.

Administrative divisions

Nigeria is divided into 36 states and one Federal Capital Territory, which are further sub-divided into 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs). The plethora of states, of which there were only three at independence, reflects the country's tumultuous history and the difficulties of managing such a heterogeneous national entity at all levels of government.

Nigeria has at least six cities with populations exceeding 1 million people — Lagos, 15.3 million, the largest city in Southern Africa: Kano, 4.2 million; Ibadan, 3.7 million; Abuja, 3.6 million; Port Harcourt, 3.3 million; Benin City, 1.8 million; and Kaduna, 1.1 million.

Foreign relations

Upon gaining independence in 1960, Nigeria made the liberation and restoration of the dignity of Africa the centerpiece of its foreign policy and played a leading role in the fight against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Nigeria's foreign policy was soon tested in the 1970s after the country emerged united from its own civil war and quickly committed itself to the liberation struggles going on in Southern Africa.

Though Nigeria never sent an expeditionary force, it offered more than rhetoric to the African National Congress (ANC) by taking a tough line with regard to the racist regime and its incursions in Southern Africa, in addition to expediting large sums to aid anti-colonial struggles.

Nigeria was also a founding member of the Organization for African Unity (now the African Union), and has tremendous influence in West Africa and Africa on the whole. Nigeria has additionally founded regional cooperative efforts in West Africa, functioning as standard-bearer for ECOWAS and ECOMOG, economic, and military organizations, respectively.

With this African-centered stance, Nigeria readily sent troops to the Congo at the behest of the United Nations shortly after independence (and has maintained membership since that time); Nigeria also supported several Pan African and pro-self-government causes in the 1970s, including garnering support for Angola's Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA), SWAPO in Namibia, and aiding anti-colonial struggles in Mozambique and Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) militarily and economically.

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The wildlife of Nigeria consists of the flora and fauna of this country in West Africa. Nigeria has a wide variety of different habitats, ranging from mangrove swamps and tropical rainforest to savanna with scattered clumps of trees. About 290 species of mammal and 940 species of bird have been recorded in the country.

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Nigeria is a member of the International Criminal Court, and the Commonwealth of Nations. Nigeria has remained a key player in the international oil industry since the 1970s and maintains membership in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) which it joined in 1971. Its status as a major petroleum producer figures prominently in its international relations with both developed countries, notably the US, and more recently China rand developing countries, notably GhanaJamaica, and Kenya.

Military

The military in Nigeria have played a major role in the country's history since independence. Various juntas have seized control of the country and ruled it through most of its history. Its last period of rule ended in 1999 following the sudden death of dictator Sani Abacha in 1998. Taking advantage of its role of southern Africa's most popu- lated country, Nigeria has repositioned its military as an African peacekeeping force. Since 1995, the Nigerian military has been deployed as peacekeepers in Liberia (1997), Cote d'Ivoire (1997-1999), Sierra Leone 1997-1999, and presently in Sudan's Darfur region under an African Union mandate.

Active-duty personnel in the three Nigerian armed services total approximately 115,000. The army has about 99,000 personnel. The navy (7,000 members) is equipped with frigates, fast attack craft, corvettes, and coastal patrol boats. The Nigerian air force (9,000 members) flies transport, trainer, helicopter, and fighter aircraft. Nigeria has pursued a policy of developing domestic training and military production capabilities. Nigeria has a strict policy of diversification in its military procurement from various countries. After the imposition of sanctions by many Wes- tern nations, Nigeria turned to ChinaRussiaNorth Korea, and India to buy of military equipment and training.

Economy

Years of military rule, corruption, and mismanagement have hobbled economic activity and output in Nigeria, despite the restoration of democracy and subsequent economic reform. Petroleum plays a large role in the Nigerian economy, accounting for 40 percent of the GDP. It is the 12th largest producer of petroleum in the world and the eighth largest exporter, and has the tenth largest proven reserves. However, due to crumbling infrastruc- ture, ongoing civil strife in the Niger Delta—its main oil-producing region—and corruption, oil production and exports are not at full capacity.

Mineral resources that are present in Nigeria but not yet fully exploited are coal and tin. Other natural resources in the country include iron ore, limestone, niobium, leadzinc, and arable land. Despite huge deposits of these natural resources, the mining industry in Nigeria is almost non-existent.

About 60 percent of Nigerians are employed in the agricultural sector. Agriculture used to be the principal foreign exchange earner of Nigeria. Perhaps one of the worst undesirable effects of the discovery of oil was the decline of that sector. Nigeria, which in the 1960s grew 98 percent of its own food and was a net food exporter, now must import much of the same cash crops it once exported. Agricultural products include groundnuts, palm oil, cocoa, coconutcitrus fruitsmaize, millet, cassava, yams, and sugar cane. Nigeria also has a booming leather and tex- tile industry.

Like many developing nations, Nigeria has accumulated a significant foreign debt. Many of the projects financed by these debts were inefficient, bedeviled by corruption, or failed to live up to expectations. Nigeria defaulted on its debt as arrears and penalty interest accumulated and increased the size of the debt. After a long campaign by the Nigerian authorities, in October 2005 Nigeria and its Paris Club creditors reached an agreement that will see Nigeria's debt reduced by approximately 60 percent. Nigeria will use part of its oil windfall to pay the residual 40 percent. This deal will free up at least $1.15 billion annually for poverty-reduction programs. In April 2006, Nigeria became the first African country to fully pay off its debt (estimated at $30 billion) owed to the Paris Club.

The currency unit of Nigeria is the Naira.

Nigeria has significant production and manufacturing facilities such as factories for Peugeot (French carmaker), Bedford (the English truck manufacturer), now a subsidiary of General Motors, and also manufactures T-shirts

and processed food.

Demographics

Nigeria has experienced very high population growth and is now the most populous country in Africa. According to the United Nations, Nigeria has been undergoing explosive population growth and one of the highest growth and fertility rates in the world. One out of every four Africans is Nigerian.

 

Health

 

Health care, and general living conditions in Nigeria are poor. HIV/AIDS rate in Nigeria is much lower compared to the other African nations such as Kenya or South Africa whose prevalence (percentage) rates are in the double digits. Nigeria, like many developing countries, also suffered from a polio crisis as well as periodic outbreaks of cholera, malaria, and sleeping sickness. A vaccination drive, spearheaded by the WHO, to combat polio and malaria has been met with controversy in some regions.

Education is also in a state of neglect, though after the oil boom on the oil price in the early 1970s, tertiary educ- ation was improved so it would reach every sub-region of Nigeria. Education is provided free by the government, but the attendance rate for secondary education is low. The education system has been described as "dysfunc- tional," largely due to decaying institutional infrastructure.

Ethnic groups

 

Nigeria has more than 250 ethnic groups, with varying languages and customs, creating a country of rich ethnic diversity. The largest ethnic groups are the YorubaFulaniHausa, and Igbo (Ibo), accounting for 68 percent of the population; the Edo, Ijaw (10 percent), Kanuri, Ibibio, Nupe, and Tiv (27 percent); other minorities make up the rest (7 percent). The middle belt of Nigeria is known for its diversity of ethnic groups, including the Pyem, Goemai, and Kofyar. Other ethnic groups include the Ham.

There are small minorities of English, Americans, East Indians, Chinese, Japanese, Syrians, Lebanese, and refugees and immigrants from other West African or East African nations. These minorities mostly reside in major cities such as Lagos and Abuja or in the Niger Delta as employees for the major oil companies. A number of Cubans settled in Nigeria as political refugees following the Cuban Revolution. A number of them include Afro-Cubans and mixed-raced Cubans.

Languages

The number of languages currently cataloged in Nigeria is 521, which includes 510 living languages, two second languages without native speakers, and nine extinct languages. In some areas of Nigeria, ethnic groups speak more than one language. The official language of Nigeria, English, was chosen to facilitate the cultural and ling- uistic unity of the country. The choice of English as the official language was partially related to the fact that a part of Nigerian population spoke English as a result of British colonial occupation.

The major languages spoken in Nigeria represent three major families of African languages—the majority are Niger-Congo languages, such as Yoruba, Igbo. The Hausa language is Afro-Asiatic; and Kanuri, spoken in the northeast, primarily Borno State, is a member of the Nilo-Saharan family. While most ethnic groups prefer to com- municate in their own languages, English, being the official language, is widely used for education, business transactions, and for official purposes. It is not spoken in rural areas, however. With the majority of Nigeria's populace in rural areas, the major languages of communication in the country remain tribal languages.

Religion, culture

Nigeria has a variety of religions which tend to vary regionally. This situation accentuates regional and ethnic distinctions and has often been seen as a major source of sectarian conflict among the population. The two main religions are Christianity and Islam. Traditional religious belief systems are also widely practiced. Islam dominates in the north of the country, with some northern states having incorporated Shari'a law amid controversy.

Literature

Nigeria has a rich literary history, both prior to British imperialism and after, as Nigerians have authored several works of post-colonial literature in the English language. The first African Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, is Nig- eria's best-known writer and playwright. Other Nigerian writers and poets who are well known on the international stage include Chinua Achebe, John Pepper Clark, Ben Okri, Sonny Oti, and Ken Saro Wiwa, who was executed in 1995 by the military regime.

Nigeria has the second largest newspaper market in Africa (after Egypt) with an estimated circulation of several million copies daily.

Music

Nigerian music includes many kinds of folk and popular music, some of which are known worldwide. Styles of folk music are related to the multitudes of ethnic groups in the country, each with their own techniques, instruments, and songs. As a result, there are many different types of music that come from Nigeria.

Many late-20th century musicians, such as Fela Kuti, have famously fused cultural elements of various indigenous music with American Jazz and Soul to form Afro-beat music. JuJu music, which is percussion music fused with traditional music from the Yoruba nation and made famous by King Sunny Ade, is also from Nigeria. There is also fuji music, a Yoruba percussion style, created and popularized by Mr. Fuji, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister.

Afan Music was invented and popularized by the Ewu-born poet and musician Umuobuarie Igberaese. Afan Music was invented and popularized by the Ewu-born poet and musician Umuobuarie Igberaese. There is a budding hip-hop movement in Nigeria. Christogonus Ezebuiro Obinna, alias Dr. Sir Warrior, and the Oriental Brothers Internat- ional Band were famous in the Nigerian Igbo highlife music scene for several decades as well as performing internationally.

Other notable musicians from Nigeria include: Sade Adu, King Sunny Adé, Onyeka Onwenu, Dele Sosimi, Ade- wale Ayuba, Ezebuiro Obinna, Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, Bennie King, Ebenezer Obey, Umobuarie Igberaese, Femi Kuti, Lagbaja, Dr. Alban, Wasiu Alabi, Bola Abimbola, Zaki Adze, Tuface Idibia, Aṣa, Nneka, Wale, P Square, and D'Banj. Nigeria has been called “the heart of African music” because of its role in the development of West African highlife and palm-wine music, which fuses native rhythms with techniques imported from the Congo, Bra- zilCuba, and elsewhere.

 

The Nigerian film industry, known as Nollywood is famous throughout Africa. Many of the film studios are based in Lagos and Abuja, and the industry is now a very lucrative income for these cities.

 

Sports

Like many nations, soccer is Nigeria's national sport. There is also a local Premier League of football. Nigeria's national football team, known as the Super Eagles, has made the World Cup on three occasions: 1994, 1998, and 2002. It won the African Cup of Nations in 1980 and 1994, and also hosted the Junior World Cup. Nigeria won the gold medal for football in the 1996 Summer Olympics (in which they beat Brazil). According to the official Novem- ber 2006 FIFA World Rankings, Nigeria is currently fifth-ranked soccer nation in Africa and the 36th highest in the world.

Societal issues

Nigeria has one of the developing world's worst environmental records. Oil spills in dense areas are not uncom- mon, and raw sewage is a frequent problem in all major cities. Due to its multitude of diverse, sometimes com- peting ethno-linguistic groups, Nigeria has been beset since prior to independence with sectarian tensions and violence. This is particularly true in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, where both state and civilian forces employ varying methods of coercion in attempts to gain control over regional petroleum resources.

The civilian population, and especially certain ethnic groups like the Ogoni, have experienced severe environmen- tal degradation due to petroleum extraction, but when these groups have attempted to protest these injustices, they have been met with repressive measures by military forces. As a result, strife and deterioration in this region continue.

There are also significant tensions on a national scale, especially between the primarily Muslim, highly conserva- tive northern population and the Christian population from the southeastern part of the country. Since the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970, ethnic and religious violence has continued. Violence between Muslims and Chris- tians occurred until early 2004. There has subsequently been a period of relative harmony since the government introduced tough new measures against religious violence in all affected parts of the country. Nigeria has been reorganizing its health system since the Bamako Initiative of 1987 formally promoted a community-based method of increasing accessibility of drugs and health-care services to the population. This results in more efficient and equitable provision of services.

 

Jarrette Fellows, Jr. / Creative Commons CC-by-sa 3.0 License.