The official name of Nigeria is  Federal  Republic  of  Nigeria.  The
capital city  is  Abuja.  The  nigerian  government   is  federal  republic,
independent since 1960. The civilian constitution of  the  Second  Republic,
with  a  US-style  president,  senate  and  house  of  representatives,  was
suspended when the military took over on December 31, 1983.
       The population is more than 100 millions of people. More than 50%  of
them are Christians, and less than 45% are Muslims.  The  official  language
of Negeria is English, but there also exist a variety of local languages.
       The coastline, much of it bordered by mangrove swamp, is  intersected
by numerious creeks; the southeast  coast,  dominated  by  the  Niger  river
delta, is the location of the offshore oil reserves. Inland lies an area  of
tropical rain forest nd bush.  Savannah  and  woodland  cover  much  of  the
central upland area; the  Jos  plateau  is  the  watershed  of  hundreds  of
streams and rivers flowing as far as Lake  Chad  and  the  Niger  and  Benue
rivers.  The  far  north,  bordering  with  Sahara,  is   mainly   savannah.
Spectacular highlands line the eastern border  with  Cameroon.  The  highest
point is Vogel peak of 2040 meters, and total area is over 924000 sq km.
       Democratically elected governments have so far proved unequal to  the
task of managing this unruly  nation  of  more  than  100  millions  people;
civilians have ruled for a total of only  10  years  since  independence  in
1960. The most recent civilian government, that of President Shehu  Shagari,
lasted four years  before  the  military  took  power  again  in  1983.  The
idealistic and rigid General Muhammadu Buhari was  in  turn  replaced  in  a
bloodless coup two years later by the  more  genial  and  pragmatic  General
Ibrahim Babangida.
       Babangidas task was made more complex by the collapse of oil  prices
in early 1986. Oil earnings, which accounted over  97%  of  export  revenue,
were halved to $6.1bn in just one year.
       Oil production started in the late 1950s, rising steadily tp apeak of
2.4m barrels a day at the start of  1980s.  Agriculture  was  neglected  and
construction boomed as the oil money flowed in. Cocoa exports  were  halved,
cotton and groundnut exports all but  ceased  and  the  public  developed  a
taste for new imported foods. Foreign contractors lined up to build the  oil
refineries, steel works and vehicle  assembly  lines  that  were  to  ensure
Nigerias industrial future.
       By the mid-1980s Nigeria was saddled with foreign debt of $26bn  with
few of its investments in industry or infrastructure starting to  pay  their
way. The Babangida  government  lost  little  time  in  introducing  drastic
policy  changes.  Inessential  and  many  essential  imports  were   banned,
agricultural marketing was  put  into  private  hands,  a  foreign  exchange
auction system was introduced, resulting  in  a  rapid  devaluation  of  the
overvalued  naira,  and  an  extensive  programme   of   privatization   was
announced. The governments econoic measures were  generally  in  accordance
with IMF recommendations although negotiations about conditional fund  loans
had broken down. The realtionship between  Nigeria  and  its  creditors  has
been a rocky one, but many foreign aid donors have been sympathetic  to  its
aims and large loans from bodies like the World Bank havve helped  ease  the
path to reform.
       The new policies soon started  to  show  results.  Cash-crop  exports
revived, as did production of traditional  food  crops.  Industry  bore  the
brunt of recession and the  constraints  of  inports,  and  was  working  at
barely 30% of capacity in 1988. For the  Nigerian  in  he  street,  economic
adjustment has meant high  unemployment,  rising  inflation  and  a  general
decline in living standarts.
       With its economic reforms under  way,  the  Babangida  government  is
talking of a return to civilian ruke in 1992. To this end, it has set out  a
complex timetable of regional  and  legislatie  elections,  from  which  all
former politicians have been excluded.

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