The cities of Nigeria offer very different atmospheres, from the sprawling and chaotic coastal centre of Lagos, to the ancient Muslim cities of the north, such as Kano. The natural environment also has great contrasts, from the lush dense forests of the Cross River National Park in the southeast, to the more tamed and sedate Yankuri National Park north of the River Benue. Find out more by clicking on the map items.

Cameroon map

Explore Cameroon

Explore some of the towns and cities of Cameroon, as well as its most popular national parks.

Kano

Kano has the reputation of being the oldest city in West Africa, growing as an important trading centre along the ancient caravan routes across the Sahara. One of its districts is the old medieval walled city with its clay houses. The city is also known as a centre for traditional crafts such as leatherwork and cloth-dyeing and for the trade in agricultural products such as cattle. Kano is famous for the horse-riding durbars held during Muslim festivals. Known as a seat of learning, the city today suffers from the rise in Muslim extremism.

Poverty

Across the rest of the world, absolute poverty has halved over recent decades, but in Africa it has barely fallen.

About two-fifths of the population of sub-Saharan Africa survive week by week on what someone in the UK earns from just one hour's work on the minimum wage.

History

The first humans are thought to have lived in Africa and powerful African empires formed from the medieval age onwards.

However, today's African nations were shaped by the European powers who colonised this vast continent. Having gained their independence, many African countries are still coming to terms with the legacy left by their colonisers.

Women

A woman’s status varies by country and region across Africa. In many parts, women struggle against inequality in laws, education, pay and domestic responsibilities.

Women’s health is also at risk from traditional practices such as early marriage. But with better education, girls can make more informed choices, leading to the greater development of African nations.

Jos

Located around 1,250 metres above sea level on the Jos Plateau, Jos enjoys a cooler, less humid climate amid the rocky plains of the north. Built by the British as a mining town in the early 1900s, Jos now has to rely on other industries following the closure of the tin mines by the 1950s. The city lies at the crossroads between the Christian south and the Muslim north, therefore tension between the two religions often flares up here and turns violent.

River Niger, River Benue

The River Niger and its major tributary, the River Benue, act like arms of a huge letter Y, as they flow diagonally through the western and eastern side of Nigeria. The rivers meet at Lokoja, from where the Niger flows south down towards the Gulf of Guinea. Before the coast, the river splits into many channels to form the Niger Delta.

Foods

Africa has some of the most distinctive cuisines and flavours in the world. Food varies widely, but there are commonalities across regions. Depending on what's grown locally, dishes are also influenced by the traders, immigrants and rulers who settled across the continent. Arab, Asian and European elements blend in with traditional African cooking.

Yankari National Park

Two rivers flow through the woodland savannah of Yankari National Park, providing the main water source for animals such as buffalo, antelope and elephants. Animal populations aren’t especially high and most visitors to the park come for bird watching or to enjoy the waters of the Wikki Warm Spring, a clear natural pool of crystal blue waters set in a forested valley.

Children

Around one in six children born in sub-Saharan Africa don't live to see their fifth birthday and life can be tough for those who do.

What are the common challenges facing African children and how do their lives compare with those of children in the UK?

Niger map

Explore Niger

Click on the map points in Niger to find out more about some of its key cities and geographical features.

Games & Sport

Africa is home to arguably the oldest-recorded games and sports. While some are only known through archaeology, modern-day games and sports such as Mancala/Mankala and Nubian wrestling are very much alive today.

Of course, new sports have come along to claim the attention of Africans. You may have heard of one - it's called football.

Abuja

Abuja took over from Lagos as the capital of Nigeria in 1991 (though it had officially been named the capital much earlier). With a population of around 1.5 million, it’s a much smaller city but was felt to be more suitable as the seat of government, being geographically more central. As a new capital, it has a good road system and many new buildings, though as with other Nigerian cities, standards of living vary and services such as clean water and electricity cannot be relied upon.

Niger Delta

At the exit of the Niger River into the ocean, there is a network of forested creeks and mangroves, an important habitat for wildlife and birds such as storks and kingfishers. Local communities here often live in houses elevated on platforms – see Food & Daily Life – and travel around by boat. Since the discovery of oil, the region has suffered from major pollution and periods of violence.

Climate

Africa is a massive continent, with a range of climates. Some regions are hot and dry, like the Sahara, Kalahari and Namib deserts. Other parts are wet or covered in tropical rainforest. Conditions also vary by altitude, from the dry salt pans of the Danakil Depression (one of the lowest points on earth) to the snowcaps (at certain times) of the highest mountains. Weather-wise, Africa has it all!

Osogbo Sacred Forest

The town of Osogbo was founded around four centuries ago. On its outskirts is the Osogbo Sacred Grove, where the Yoruba community have placed shrines and sanctuaries to the gods, as well as sculptures and art works. The sacred grove is now seen as a symbol of identity for all Yoruba people, especially since the forest has been defended against various threats, including the felling of trees for teak. In 1965, the Grove was declared a national monument and its 75 hectares of primary forest (one of the last remaining areas in southern Nigeria) have been protected since 1992.

Agriculture & Famine

A quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished and famines can impact whole regions.

Land is available to grow more food locally, but investment is needed in  technologies such as irrigation for land to be used effectively. Farmers must also adapt to climate change if they are to feed the continent's rising population.

Development

‘People are the real wealth of a nation.’ This is the belief of the United Nations, whose Millenium Development Goals provide a framework for improving the lives of millions.

It helps when nations are peaceful, stable and growing economically. But where even the poorest countries focus on health, education and creating fairer societies, more Africans have the chance of a better life.

Port Harcourt

Port Harcourt is the centre of Nigeria’s oil industry. Oil from the Niger Delta is transported here via pipelines, from where it’s pumped into huge tankers. Other goods such as steel and aluminium are also exported from here. After Lagos, it’s the second busiest city in Nigeria. Due to the activities of militant groups in the Niger Delta, it has been a dangerous place at times for foreign oil workers and business people.

Calabar, Cross River National Park

Located high on a hill above the Calabar River, the capital of the Cross Rivers State is renowned as a pleasant and historic city. It was long used as a port for shipping out slaves from Nigeria, until the practice was abolished. Then it became an important centre for the trade in palm oil, rubber and timber. Surrounded by lagoons and tropical forest, it is a good base from which to explore Nigeria’s wildlife, which has been protected in the state’s Cross River National Park – see Geography & Wildlife.

Chad map

Explore Chad

Explore the map of Chad to find out more about some of the country's geographical features and cities.

Lagos

Lagos is the second largest city in Africa (after Cairo) with at least 11 million residents (though some estimates put the number far higher). Situated on the coast in the low-lying belt of land, its Portuguese name means ‘lagoons’ and the city is basically a collection of islands linked by bridges. Much of Lagos’ population lives less than 1 metre above sea level, which means many parts – both rich houses and poor slum settlements – are vulnerable to flooding. With its mixture of peoples, it’s a vibrant place, but congestion, crime and poverty also make it chaotic and sometimes dangerous.

Geography & Wildlife

With its varied geography and diverse habits, the African continent is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. Though famous for its 'big game' animals, Africa has huge numbers of fish, mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and insect species, as well as many tree, plant and flower species.

Health

Africa has a high number of communicable diseases, which place a huge burden on healthcare systems. The vast majority of malaria cases and HIV/AIDS-related deaths occur in Africa; these two diseases currently represent the greatest threats.

With low investment in healthcare and a severe shortage of medical staff, many countries struggle to meet the health needs of their people.

Nigeria map Niger map Cameroon map Chad map Port Harcourt Niger Delta Calabar, Cross River National Park Yankari National Park River Niger, River Benue Jos Kano Lagos Abuja Port Harcourt Osogbo Sacred Forest Calabar, Cross River National Park