15 Things You Didn’t Know about Nigeria

22 June 2021

Nigeria Is a Wonderful Country but the World Doesn’t Know Much about It. Here Are Some Interesting Facts about Nigeria.

When president Buhari banned twitter in Nigeria recently a news report by CNN described Nigeria as: “a country plagued by kidnappings, extremists and bandits.” And we’re sorry but “Wetin you talk?”

Bone that thing because that’s a very narrow view of the country. There is a whole lot more about the country of Nigeria, but we’re here to uncover some fun, unusual and interesting things you didn’t know about Nigeria.

Hopefully we don’t fall your hand, Nigeria.

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Reading this long article is an uninteresting way to learn about this very interesting country. Switch out to the video version:

With that out of the way, let’s jump right into the article.


Nigerians Are the Most Optimistic People

Gallup’s poll of 53 countries showed that Nigerians scored 70 points for optimism. And another study by the UK’s New Scientist Magazine found that Nigerians were the happiest people in the world.

And that’s a lot of happy people because the population of Nigeria accounts for 2.4% of the world’s population. That means that 1 in every 40 people on planet earth are from the country Nigeria.

As of 2021, 214 million people call Nigeria home, and 22 million people live in Lagos, the largest city in Nigeria.  There are 500 ethnic groups in Nigeria, and over 600 distinct local languages spoken. So, anyone who thinks that because they’ve met one Nigerian, you know Nigerian culture, sorry to pour sand sand for my garri but you haven’t.

Nigeria is expected to have a population of 400 million people by 2050, so it’s time to get to know the country.


Nigerians Have a Long History of Being Industrious and Entrepreneurial

Nigeria is home to the world’s largest earthworks carried out prior to the mechanical era; the Walls of Benin in Edo State. The earthworks are banks and ditches called Iya in the Edo Language.

Development didn’t stop there; Nigeria is home to Africa’s oldest dye pit. The Kofar Mata Dye Pit in Kano was established in 1498. The ancient methods and skills have been handed down from generation to generation to preserve the traditional dye process used in this part of northern Nigeria.

If that doesn’t impress you, in 1851, Kano City, one of the largest cities in Africa at the time, made 10 million pairs of sandals and produced 5 million hides for export annually.

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Nigeria Has a Lot of Languages

We mentioned that Nigeria has over 600 distinct local languages in the country. This makes up 7% of all languages on the planet spoken in just one country. Taraba state, in North-eastern Nigeria, has over 40 tribes and languages spoken in the region. This is more languages in one state than the total number of languages spoken in 30 African countries combined.

Hausa is the official language of the northern states and the most widely spoken mother tongue. However, English is the official language of Nigeria.

With so many languages, how do Nigerians communicate? Well, the main language in Nigeria is English. But a local Nigerian Pidgin English is commonly used throughout the country to communicate across the different languages.

In 2011, Google added Nigerian Pidgin to the languages in its search interface. And since 2017 the BBC started a Pidgin News service.

Here’s an example of a recent news headline on the BBC site in Pidgen English, “Why America and UK wan dash Africa and oda low income kontris millions of Covid-19 vaccines.”


Nigeria May Have Gone to America Way Ahead of Columbus

This fact is about to flip your world view on its head. We all were taught that Columbus was the first overseas explorer who got to America in 1492. What if we told you there is evidence that as early as 1000AD there might have been contact between the ancient Americans and the Yoruba Kingdom in the southwestern part of Nigeria?

The ancient city of Ife-Ife contains paving decorated with patterns originating from Ancient America. Historical evidence shows that the city was paved in 1000 AD on the orders of a female ruler. To date it remains controversial how this came about. What do you think?


Cool Runnings Africa Happened in Nigeria

Suen Adigun established the first ever Nigerian Bobsled team in 2016 and less than 2 years later they competed at Olympic level at the 2018 Winter Olympics. It’s a story of total guts and glory if you ask us, not only did the 3 team members start out in a wooden hand carved sled called the Mae-Mae to honour Suen Adigun’s deceased sister, but they also qualified in that sled.

They then went on to carry the Nigerian flag in the opening ceremony. They upgraded to a racing standard sled for the actual event. They were placed 20th out of 20 teams at the Olympics but came first out of all the African bobsled teams. See the Nigerian positive outlook is rubbing off on us.


Florida’s Palms Are from Nigeria

Forget about the Palm lined beaches of Miami being a uniquely Florida thing. Those coconut palms are straight outta Nigeria. In 1936 the seeds of coconut palm trees from Nigeria were taken to the USA and they flourished in the new country. Only 12 species of palm trees found in Florida are native to the area. Other palms in the region also came from Cuba and Southeast Asia, so Nigeria can’t take all the credit this time.


Nollywood Is the 2nd Largest Film Maker

Nollywood is the name of the Nigerian film industry. But don’t be fooled, this isn’t some small-time art film industry. Nigeria produces anything from 1,000 to 2,000 films a year. And the industry brings in around $250 million annually.

Some Nigerian filmmakers don’t like the term Nollywood because it stems from a 2002 New York Times article which named it as such. It feels to some as a bit imperialist that the industry was named by a foreigner. But regardless of what you call this impressive film industry, the sound of cha-ching by any other name would be just as sweet!

Quick question? Who are you thinking is number 1 in the film industry? If you thought Hollywood, then check your facts. According to Studio Binder, Bollywood is the largest film producer in the world.


Nigeria Contends in the Space Race

National Space Research and Development Agency is the national space agency of Nigeria. Despite financial struggles, it remains one of the most advanced space agencies in Africa. They currently have 4 satellites in orbit, which have been praised for their high-resolution images.

The first satellite, Nigeriasat-1, was launched in 2003. The objectives of this satellite were to give early warning signals of environmental disaster, detect desertification, to assist in demographic planning; and help with disease and border dispute resolution by accurate mapping.

In 2016 the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, announced that by 2030 Nigeria would send an astronaut to space. It wasn’t met with full support because many didn’t feel that it was a good use of government spending. Of course, it didn’t help that there was a scam email circulating at the time about a Nigerian astronaut lost in space, but you have to have a good sense of humour about these things!


Nigeria Wins at Twins

A small town in Nigeria is nicknamed the Twin Capital of the World. Scientists can’t explain it, but Igbo-Ora in Oyo State in Nigeria has a twin birth rate as high as 158 twins per 1,000 births. According to an article in The Gaurdian Twin birth rate globally are 12 per 1,000 births, so you can see what a massive difference this is.

The Yoruba tribe, who occupy the area, believe that their diet of yams and okra leaves are the reason for their twin birth rates, however that diet isn’t unique to the region. Any Nigerian viewers reading, we would love to know what you think the reason is.

If you’d like to stay in the town to see the twins for yourself, be sure to use Air BnB.

We always use it in our travels, so we partnered with them to give you, the Aluxers, a discount.

Go to alux.com/airbnb and get 25$ off your first trip.

If you want to look at the fanciest AirBnb’s, check out 15 Most Breath-Taking Airbnb’s


Comot for Road Oprah, Nigeria Is Coming Through

For some time, Oprah has occupied the seat for richest woman of African descent in the world. However, in 2014, Folorunso Alakija, a Nigerian businesswoman, unseated the queen of talk from the position for a while. Alakija is involved in fashion, oil, real estate, and the printing industry and has amassed herself a network of $1 billion.

Alakija made her initial entry into business with her own fashion label. After that success, she acquired a licence to explore for oil. She struck oil and went into a joint venture with a subsidiary of Texaco to extract oil.

Her company, Famfa Limited, had some challenges with government insisting on taking a stake, eventually Alakija won her case to full ownership and let’s just say: pepper don rest!


Nigeria Is an Important Natural Wonder

Nigeria’s natural environment houses some of the largest and most diverse species of plants and animals in the world. The Niger Delta and Cross River Forest are two of these important biomes.

Cross River State in the south of Nigeria has the largest diversity of butterflies in the world. The Forest in the area is the only evergreen rainforest in Africa and is home to over 1,000 species of amphibians and birds.

The Niger Delta, the second largest delta in the world and home to 60% of Nigeria’s important mangrove forests. The area also has the most monotypic fish families in the world.


Ifa Religion Was Spread from Nigeria

People enslaved from the country Nigeria and taken across the globe spread Ifa religion, thought to have originated from the Yoruba people of Nigeria.

Ifa is a 16-principal system that is practiced around the world. While we won’t get into the contested origins of Ifa, we will say that Orunmila is the Grand Priest. It is believed that Orunmila was sent to earth by Olodumare, AKA the creator of the universe, for him to spread the laws of Olodumare one earth.

Babalawos or Iyanifas are male and female leaders in the church who lead various sacred rituals and are seen as oracles.

Ifa is considered more of a spiritual journey than an actual religion.


A Nigerian Was the First Sub-Saharan African Recipient Of the Nobel Prize for Literature

Nigerian author, playwright and poet, Wole Soyinka was the first Sub-Saharan African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1986 he was honoured in the category for his long and political career as a writer with strong activist influence.

Soyinka was made professor emeritus at Obafemi Awolowo University, in Nigeria. He also taught in the United States at Cornell University as Goldwin Smith professor for African Studies and Theatre Arts and was appointed Robert W. Woodruff Professor of the Arts at Emory University.


You Can Thank Nigeria for the Scarf Dress

Nothing is quite as comfortable as the scarf dress. Pre-colonial Igbo and Yoruba groups rocked this wrap around style in Nigeria. So how does the scarf dress work?

Well, the style was originally worn by boys and girls in their late teens. You can take any large piece of cloth that can wrap across your body and then tie back behind your neck. You can get creative with the style of knot you use, but the result is still the same: baff up with comfort.


Nigeria Is the Home of Afrobeats

Forget K-Pop, Aluxers, and turn your ears to Afrobeats. It’s a unique sound that’s been making its way into clubs around the world, and it comes from Nigeria. Popstars and producers from Nigeria are finding international acclaim with their unique sound, that puts their country in the spotlight.

Wizkid was featured in Drake’s One Dance a few years back, Davido won Best International Act at the BET Awards in both 2018 and 2014 and was the first African artist to receive his award in person on the BET stage, then there’s Tiwa. Tiwa Savage is one of the few female Afrobeats singers, and won Best African Act at the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards!

Ciara and Major Lazer have both used Afrobeats in their music.

And Aluxers, don’t confuse Afrobeats with Afrobeat – as reported by One.org, “… Afrobeat, the style pioneered by Fela Kuti… is a highly political, non-commercial music style, making it really different from Afrobeats!”


Have you visited Nigeria? We’d love to hear your favourite part about this incredible country.