What are the geography, demography, economy, political structure, and main cultural characteristics of Nigeria?

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Nigeria is located on the Gulf of Guinea in the western subregion of the African continent. It is the thirty-third largest country in the world by area, more than twice the size of California, and has a land mass of 923,768 square kilometers. The 853 km of Atlantic coastline transitions into southern lowlands, southeastern mountains, central hills and plateaus, and northern plains. 78% of the land is used for agriculture, 9.5% is forest, and 12.5% has other uses. Resources include natural gas, petroleum, tin, iron ore, coal, and limestone. The population is clustered throughout the country and is the densest in the south and southwest. Lagos, the former capital, is the most populous city on the continent. Abuja, the new capital, was recently named the fastest-growing city in the world.

With roughly 190 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa. It has more than 250 ethnic groups and 500 indigenous languages. The most commonly spoken language is English; the other three official languages reflect the largest ethnic groups: Hausa and Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo. Half of the population is Muslim, 40% is Christian, and 10% practice indigenous beliefs. 50% of the population is urban. 80% of the urban population has access to improved drinking water sources, compared with 57% of the rural population. 29% of the total population has access to improved sanitation facilities. Only 3.7% of GDP is spent on health, contributing to Nigeria having the fourth and eighth highest rates of maternal and infant mortality in the world, respectively. 2.8% of the adult population is estimated to have HIV/AIDS, and the degree of risk for other infectious diseases, including food- and water-borne, vector-borne, and respiratory diseases, is rated "very high" by the CIA. The current life expectancy at birth is 53 years. Over 62% of Nigerians live in extreme poverty.

Petroleum accounts for 83% of Nigeria’s total export revenue. The stability of the economy is highly dependent upon oil prices and production. International investment and improved trade policies could contribute to greater consistency in output, but widespread corruption, poor infrastructure, and attacks by militants have limited overseas interest.

Nigeria became independent from the UK on October 1, 1960. It is now a federal republic that combines English common law, Islamic law in the northern states, and traditional law. The president is the head of government. The bicameral national assembly contains a 109-member Senate and 360-member House of Representatives. Elections are held every four years.

The oil and gas industries, along with indiscriminate logging, bush burning, mineral exploration, infrastructure projects, and agriculture, have led to widespread deforestation throughout the country, including the rainforests along the Niger River delta. Rapid population growth due to insufficient family planning services and a cultural preference for large families will contribute to greater environmental problems in the future.

Cultural heritage and tradition differ widely based on geography and ethnic group membership, but several characteristics are shared throughout the country. Fashion is a popular interest among Nigerians. Although many textiles and styles of clothing are unique to certain regions and cultures, trendy dressers often borrow styles and patterns from other groups. Nigerian writers Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, and Chimamandia Adiche are internationally renowned. The Nigerian movie industry, “Nollywood,” is well regarded throughout the continent, as is Nigerian traditional and popular music. Sports are a preferred pastime, and the national football team, the Super Eagles, has been successful in several international events.

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