It has a population of over 200 million people, the largest economy in Africa and a whole host of natural beauty spots. It’s official then. Nigeria should be on everyone’s travel wishlists.
But there are some fascinating things we didn’t know about Nigeria—until today. Here goes.
Nigeria has the most twins in the world
Well, a small part of it does.
Apparently, there’s a ‘Twin capital of the world’ (who knew?!) and it’s in Nigeria. Igbo-Ora, a small town in the state of Oyo, has more than earned this accolade. With an impressive 158 twins per 1,000 births, Igbo-Ora has an unusually high proportion of twins. Locals—the Yoruba—think that it’s all down to the high number of yams and okra leaves in their diet.
Over 500 languages are spoken in Nigeria
Over 520, actually. As a nation, Nigeria is incredibly multiethnic, and quite the polyglot! English is the official language of Nigeria. However, outside of the main cities, it’s rarely spoken. In rural communities, you can expect to find people speaking Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulfulde, Ibibio, Kanuri or Tiv—the other prominent languages in Nigeria.
…by many ethnic groups
With over 250 ethnic groups, Nigeria is incredibly diverse—one of the many things that make it so fascinating. The Hausa-Fulani make up the largest ethnicity in Nigeria, representing 29% of the Nigerian population. After come the Yoruba (21%), Igbo (18%), Ijaw (10%), Kanuri (4%), Ibibio (3.5%), and Tiv (2.5%), according to the University of Birmingham.
Nigeria has its own successful film industry
Move over Hollywood, and up your game, Bollywood—there’s another big player in town! Nollywood, Nigeria’s film industry, is absolutely booming. After Bollywood, Nollywood is the largest film producer in the world. On average, a whopping 2,500 films are made and released each year. Wow!
It’s a relative newcomer to the movie scene, only getting going in the early 1990s. Still, Nollywood has produced some gems, both in terms of films (The Wedding Party series, the Merry Men films and King of Boys—to name a few) and also when it comes to actors. Some of the most famous include Richard Mofe-Damijo, Ini Edo and Desmond Elliott.
Nigeria has wildlife no other country has
We can even go so far as to say that a small part of Nigeria, Plateau state, has wildlife that exists nowhere else. Plateau is home to the Jos Plateau Indigobird—a small, red-brown bird unique to that area.
The Niger Delta Red Colobus is another animal unique to Nigeria. This is a critically endangered species of colobus monkey, which lives in the western part of the Niger Delta.
There are a few other animals that only reside in Nigeria. See what they are here.
It’s better to be right-handed in Nigeria
Being left-handed is said to make you more creative in certain parts of the world. In other places, it’s a sign of bad luck. And in Nigeria? It can be a sign of disrespect to use your left hand. This is because the left hand is considered to be dirty.
We’re not sure where this came from, but the word ‘sinister’ came from the Latin word for ‘left’. To this day, the Italian word for ‘left’ is ‘sinistra’. Every day is a school day.
Nigeria had a queen with great tastes—and strangely early ties with America
The Ooni is the name for the leader of Ile-Ife, a Nigerian town in Osun state and ancestral home of the Yoruba people. In the 10th century, Ile-Ife had its first—and last—female Ooni, called Queen Luwoo. Sometimes referred to as Lúwo Gbàgìdá, Queen Luwoo was quite the character.
Queen Luwoo—the 21st Ooni—wanted her town to be beautiful. So she decided to pave the streets and courtyards of Ile-Ife with quartz pebbles and broken pottery, forcing lawbreakers to use their bare hands to break the clay into pieces for her to walk on.
The clay pieces remain to this day. And strangely enough, some of the decorative elements have artwork believed to have originated in Ancient America—long before Christopher Columbus got there.
Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy
Though only the 14th largest country in Africa, Nigeria has Africa’s largest, most robust economy. This is mostly due to the strength of its export market. Nigeria predominantly exports petroleum products, which make up over 90% of the total exports. But it also famously exports metal tubing and cocoa beans.
Humans have been in Nigeria for a long time—a very long time
In 1965, archaeologists discovered over half a million Later Stone Age artefacts in Iwo Eleru, western Nigeria. Among these hundreds of thousands of fragments was a human skull of a man who was around 30 at the time of his death.
Original dating of the skull—evidence of human life—led experts to believe that humans had been in Nigeria in 9000 BC. However, more recent scientific analysis suggests that the skull is, in fact, much older than that. Blimey!
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