Practical information for visitors to Nigeria

Official languages

English. However English is not spoken in some rural areas where indigenous languages such as Yoruba and Igbo are spoken by the majority. These are complemented by over 500 additional indigenous languages. Nigerian Pidgin English is also a popular lingua-franca in the country.


Temperatures are relatively high with a very narrow variation in seasonal and diurnal ranges (22-36°C). There are two basic seasons – wet season which lasts from April to October and the dry season which lasts from November to March. The dry season commences with Harmattan, a dry chilly spell that lasts until February and is associated with lower temperatures. The second half of the dry season, February to March, is the hottest period of the year when temperatures range from 33-38°C.

Main ethnic groups

Nigeria is composed of over 250 ethnic groups. The three largest are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. The other major tribes in the country include Edo, Ijaw, Kanuri, Ibibio, Ebira Nupe and Tiv. Also there are minority groups of British, American, East Indian, Chinese, white Zimbabwean, Japanese, Greek, Syrian and Lebanese immigrants.


Nigeria is a multi-religious country. Fifty percent of the population practice Islam while the rest adhere to Christianity. The other minority religions in the country include Hinduism, Judaism, the Baha’i Faith, and Chrislam, a syncretic faith that contains elements of Christianity and Islam.

Time Zone

GMT + 1 hour


International airports

  • Abuja (ABV)
    Known as Nnamdi Azikiwe International, located 22miles (35km), about 40 minutes from Abuja, the capital city.
  • Lagos (LOS)
    Known as Murtala Muhammed, located 13 miles (22km), about 40 minutes north of Lagos. Taxis are available but an airport pick up service is advised. Free coach service every 10 minutes.
  • Kano (KAN)
    Kano international airport is 5 miles (8km), about 25 minutes north of Kano. Buses leave every 10 minutes. Taxis are available.

There are trains in Nigeria but traveling by train is not as comfortable as traveling by bus.

Traveling by bus is a safe and comfortable way to travel in Nigeria, all major cities are connected.

The average taxi ride from the airports is N4000 and within the cities N2000.

In Lagos the preferred mode of transport among locals is the motor-bike or Okada bike transport (between N50 and N500 depending on the distance).


  • All foreign nationalities need a visa including evidence of sufficient funds for the duration of stay and a current vaccination certificates. This must be done prior to arrival. Citizens of ECOWAS states are allowed to enter Nigeria without a visa, subject to their stay not exceeding three months.
  • All visitors to Nigeria must carry a valid national passport or other internationally recognized travel documents endorsed for travel to Nigeria.


  • Internet country code: .ng
  • Telephone country code: 234


Nigerian Naira (NGN) is represented by the symbol ₦. The Naira is divided into 100 kobo. Currency notes are issued in denominations of N5, N10, N20, N50 and N100. Coins are issued in 10K, 25K, and N 1 but use of kobo coins is extremely rare. Except for hotel bills, foreigners can do their shopping and other businesses in Naira.


Bureaux de change and banks at international airports can convert foreign currency. Major banks with international branches operate electronic money transfer services. The best exchange rates are offered by street dealers but for security reasons use a bureau de change.

What is the capital of Nigeria?

Abuja. Built in the 1980s, it became the capital on December 12, 1991, replacing Lagos. The city is home to major attractions in the country such as the Nigerian National Mosque and the Nigerian National Christian Center.

What is the largest city?

Lagos. Covering some 386 square miles, Lagos is the third-most populous city in Africa with an estimated population of 17 million, and the second-fastest growing city in Africa. It is the economic and financial capital of the country.

How big is Nigeria?

Nigeria is 356,667 square miles and has an estimated population of 167 million, making it the seventh-most populous country in the world.

What are the administrative divisions?

Nigeria comprises 36 states and one Federal Capital Territory. The states are further divided into 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs).

Who are the political leaders?

The country runs a democracy styled after the American system, with a President, Vice- President, Senate, House of Representatives, State Governors, State Houses of Assembly, Federal Ministers and State Commissioners. The current president is Goodluck Jonathan, who elected in April 2011. The Vice President is Namadi Sambo.

Legal system

Based on English common law. Islamic Shariah law is used in 12 northern states.

Health regulations

Yellow fever vaccinations are required for arrivals from infected areas. Children under the age of one year are exempted. No certificate of AIDS-free tests is required. Visitors from Europe and North America should take precautionary steps against malaria which is common in the country.


Visitors to Nigeria are allowed four liters of spirit and 200 cigarettes duty free. Personal effects such as cameras, watches, pen lighters, and cosmetics are allowed duty free within reasonable quantity. Other goods, such as video equipment, are dutiable and visitors are expected to pay the duties on the spot.


Hours are Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm, Saturday, 8 am to 4:30. Local markets are good places to shop, especially for local goods such as adire (indigo-dyed cloth), batiks, pottery, leatherwork, cotton goods and carvings. Other goods include herbs, beadwork, baskets and ceremonial masks.