Nigeria has the largest population of any country in Africa (about 160 million), and the greatest diversity of cultures, ways of life, cities and terrain. With a total land area of 923,768 sq. km. (356,668 sq. mi.) Nigeria is the 14th largest country in Africa. Its coastline, on the Gulf of Guinea, stretches 774 km (480 mi.). Nigeria shares its international border of 4,470 km (2513 mi.) with four neighbors: Chad, Cameroon, Benin, and Niger. Until 1989 the capital was Lagos, with a population of about 2,500,000, but the government recently moved the capital to Abuja.
CLIMATE AND WEATHER
Nigeria lies entirely within the tropics yet there are wide climactic variations. In general, there are two seasons, dry and wet, throughout Nigeria. Near the coast, the seasons are less sharply defined. Temperatures of over 90°F are common in the north, but near the coast, where the humidity is higher, temperatures seldom climb above that mark. Inland, around the two great rivers, the wet season lasts from April-Oct. and the dry season from Nov.-March. Temperatures are highest from Feb-April in the south and MarchJune in the north; they're lowest in July and Aug. over most of the country.
Arts & Culture
The great diversity of people and culture in Nigeria distinguished. It is not precisely known when the first works of Nigerian art reached the outside world, but in 1897, following a British punitive expedition to Benin, over 2,000 Benin bronzes and ivories were shipped to England and later dispersed all over Europe and America.
The oldest sculptures found in Nigeria were from the Southern Zaria and Benue areas of central Nigeria. They consist of terracotta figures and figurines made by a people who achieved a high degree of cultural sophistication. These sculptures, together with other cultural elements, have been named the Nok Culture. Evidence shows the Nok people had knowledge of iron smelting and adorned themselves with tin and stone beads, earrings, noserings and bracelets.
The Terracotta Heads of Nok culture existed in Central Nigeria around 1000 B.C.
The Nok Culture is dated between 500 B.C. and 200 A.D. The next known phase of Nigerian cultural evolution was Igbo Ukwu bronze casting. Found in the small village of Igbo-Ukwu, near Awka, the casts date from the 9th Century A.D. They first came to light in 1938 and consist of staff heads, crowns, breastplates, pendants, ornaments, anklets, wristlets and chains.
About the same time the Igbo-Ukwu people were casting bronze, the ancient Ife people were also producing works in bronze, copper, and terracotta. In the first quarter of this Century, Ife works caused a great stir among world art critics and historians who were unaccustomed to such naturalism in African art. The best known Nigerian artworks are the Benin Antiquities. Legend recounts how the Benin people learned the art of bronze casting from Ile-Jfe around 1400 A.D. Oba Ogunta, the sixth King of Benin, is credited with having encouraged this art in Benin.
Benin Bronze Heads
Nigeria's cultural heritage is woven from threads of history and diversity, legend and conquest. Tourists visiting the country will gain insights to a glorious past as well as a promising future, set amid the natural beauty of this diverse country. From rain forests in the south, broad savanna woodlands in the center to a semi-desert region in the north, Nigeria offers a remarkable range of physical beauty in her land and hospitality of her people, ready to be enjoyed by the tourist fortunate enough to choose this land of ancient empires as their travel destination.
Nigeria is a vast country with a population of about 120 people covering about 923,768 sq.km of landmass, located wholly within the tropics. The country aptly described as the 'Giant of Africa' is richly endowed with ecological and cultural resources, which are of universal recognition. The richness and diversity of the Nigeria culture is a manifestation of the socio-cultural differences of the over 250 ethnic groups that inhabit the land for ages.
The Ife bronze head
Tourism is one of the growing sectors the Nigerian economy. The industry was accorded priority status in 1990 when the National Tourism Policy was launched. The main thrust of Government policy on tourism was to generate foreign exchange earnings, create employment opportunities, promote rural enterprises and national integration among other things.
In recognition of the immense contributions of tourism to the national economy, the country's Vision 2010 set year 2005 as the nation's year of tourism. The obvious implication of this development is that tourism policies and programmes will now be aimed at making Nigeria the "Ultimate Tourism Destination in Africa" by the year 2005.
Nigeria offers a wide variety of tourist attractions such asFestivals, wildlife, pristine forest and magnificent waterfalls. Other attractions include arts and craft and traditional lifestyle, However, many of these attractions are still largely untapped and even at their raw state.
Investors, both foreign and local are therefore called upon to come and invest in the abundant tourism potentials in the country. The richness and diversity of Nigeria's tourism resources coupled with economic liberalisation policies provide investment opportunities in various areas as follows:
Heritage/Cultural Tourism Resources Development/Establishment of museums and preservation;
Wildlife Tourism Resources
Development of hiking trails and Jeep tracks in the national parks
Development of picnic and camping sites at strategic locations within the trail circuit system in the national parks
Provision of cable bus system to take tourist through the very rugged but scenic terrain of the mountains especially in Kanyang, Obudu and Mambilla Plateau Construction of lodge cabins for expedition tourist and rangers.
Establishment of hotels and resorts near waterfalls, springs, caves and temperate climate areas such as Obudu, jos and Mambila Plateau.
Beach Tourism potentials Establishment of boating and sport fishing facilities
Development of water transportation Provision of educational facilities for water skiing and swimming
Establishment of holiday resorts along the coasts.
Development of Amusement parks, entertainment facilities and shopping services
Development of arts and crafts which constitute symbol of the people's cultural values and love for nature.
Some Business Opportunities
Transportation Nigeria has attained a high level of good transportation system especially Airline and Road Transportation, investment opportunities are still needed in water recreation transportation and rail services.
Hospitality The hospitality sector of the tourism industry seems to be the most competitive area with the presence of starwood Hotel Groups, owners of Sheratons, Hilton, Le Meridien, Shangra La the Asian Hotel giant in restaurants.
Apart from the enormous potentials and investment opportunities in the Nigerian tourism sector, the country's investment climate at present is one of the most favourable in Africa for a number of reasons,
A viable democratic system, which guarantees political stability;
Improves international relation and respect for human rights enhance investment opportunities in the country.
Strong private sector participation.
Tourism Investment Opportunities In Nigeria
A Tourism policy was produced in 1990 with the basic objective of making Nigeria the ultimate tourism destination in Africa.
The main thrust of government policy on tourism, is to generate foreign exchange, encourage even development, promote tourism based rural enterprises, generate employment and accelerate rural urban integration and cultural exchange.
Due to the importance the Nigerian government attaches to the tourism industry, the following strategies were adopted:
Government ensures that the provision of basic infrastructural facilities, namely, good roads, water, electricity, communications and hotels, to centres of attraction, in order to accelerate their development for the purpose of exploiting their touristic value.
In furtherance of these goals, the appropriate government agency responsible for tourism promotion and development, established and maintained close liaison with other government agencies responsible for the provision of infrastructure.
Concession of Land
State governments provide land for tourism development at concessional rates and conditions favourable to investment and the realisation of investment thereon. These include the abolition of annual ground rent within the period of construction and development of tourism. For orderly development of tourism and tourism product, it is mandatory for all state governments to demarcate potential Tourism Zones and their products from other usage, to avoid undue pollution; 100% equity ownership of companies in Nigeria; and repatriation of profits and dividends etc.
Fiscal and Other Incentives
In order to boost the level of private sector investment in tourism, it is treated by government as a preferred sector, like agriculture. Government has also introduced such incentives as, tax holidays, tax rebate and soft loans, with long period of grace to potential investors in tourism.
Patrol and Regulation of the Industry
The Ijele is considered the king of masquerades
The government has enacted laws and regulations, which govern the activities of the categories of people involved in the industry, like hotels, travel agents, tour-operators, car hire services. This is to ensure that their conducts, are in line with the objectives of the industry and the security of the nation, as well as tourists.
Institutional Arrangement of Tourism
The government has put in place the following institutional frame-work.
Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism
The Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism has assumed full responsibility for policy initiation and monitoring, and maintains direct links with state governments on all tourism matters. However, the tourism industry is still fully dominated by states and local governments, where tourist attractions are situated.
State ministries implement policies and directories from the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism, initiate projects and control land allocation and development of tourism in their respective areas. The states also regulate the operations of hotels and catering institutions in line with the federal government policy.
Local Government Tourism Board
These local organs were established to locate and identify potential tourist attractions in their areas. They serve as information centres and provide tourist guides. They also preserve and maintain monuments, as well as museums in their areas of jurisdiction.
Summary of Investment Opportunities In Nigeria
Investment opportunities exist within the following sub-sectors of the tourism industry:
Beach and Coastal Resort development (Nigeria has over 700km of unpolluted sandy beaches). Conservation and Protection of 8 national parks and over 10 game reserves. Development of hotels and standard restaurants Transportation: water recreation, package tour services, air and rail services. Development of caves, tunnels, waterfalls and spring waters. Youth hostels, camps and centres Lake and River sport fishing. Scenic and Mountain Holiday resorts Theme/Amusement parks Conference/Congress Services Conservation and protection of endangered wildlife especially drill monkey, manatec, white throated monkey and pigmy hippo. Heritage, cultural and archaeological sites.
The Yankari Game Reserve is the most popular reserve in Nigeria. Set up in 1956 and opened to the public in 1962, the main game-viewing areas of the reserve are open all year round. Japanese, Western Europeans, Americans and Southeast Asian tourists visit this park in abundance. The reserve covers 2,058 sq. km. of savanna woodland and is well-stocked with elephants, baboons, waterbucks, bushbucks, oribi, crocodile, hippopotamus, roan antelope, buffalo and various types of monkeys. Lions are occasionally spotted as well, despite their natural camouflage. The best time to visit is between November and May, when tourists are likely to see more game since the dense vegetation has dried out and the animals congregate around the rivers.
The Wikki Warm Springs is one of the best features of the game reserves. Flood-lit at night, it is wonderful after a hot day’s game-viewing to relax in the warm water. The spring gushes out from under a cliff, where the water is at least 6 ft. deep, with a bathing area that extends for 600 ft. to an open area. The park is inhabited by a variety of birds, including the huge saddlebill stork, golliath heron, bateleur eagle, vultures, kingflshers, bee-eaters and more. It is excellent for serious bird-watchers.
Other facilities include: Tennis courts, squash courts, a small museum in the reception area plus gas stations with convenience stores at Wikki Camp and Bauchi.
Reservations: It is advisable to make reservation during the holidays and weekends with Easter a particularly busy season. Reservations can be made at Durbar Hotel in Kaduna, Bauchi State House in Lagos and at the Zaranda Hotel in Bauchi. Or call Yankari Game Reserve at (069) 43-656.
Route: You can travel by road from Lagos to Abuja, where you make an overnight stop, then on to Jos and Bauchi, as it is a 2-day journey by car over well-maintained roads.
Hotels: Basic accommodations are available in chalets or rondavels. Also available are suites, double rooms and family chalets that include small kitchens. There are many other National Parks besides Yankari, as illustrated on the map. Notable ones include Mambilla, Gumti National Park, Cross River National Park, and Kainji Lake National Park.
The Mambilla Plateau, in the southeast corner of Taraba State, shares a border with Cameroon. A high grassland plateau averaging about 1800 meters, it is scenic, cool and a pleasant change from the heat and humidity of Lagos. Because the roads are still under construction, a sport utility vehicle or jeep is recommended and visitors should pack essentials, camping equipment and food. As an option, there are a few hotels on the plateau.
The Park provides an attractive setting, well worth a visit. Mambilla has cattle ranches, tea plantations and rolling, grassy hills. It is different from the rest of Nigeria with regard to flora and fauna and is home to some rare species of birds and animals, especially at the Gashaka-Gumti National Park.
Route: There is a major road to Mambilla from Lagos, Benin City, Onitsha, Enugu, Otukpo, Yandev, Katsina Ala, Wukari, Mutum Biyu, Bali, Serti and Gembu. You can also fly into Yola Airport, then drive a few miles south to Mambilla.
Gashaka-Gumti National Park
This is a vast land of spectacular wilderness (6,000 sq. kin) in the southeast corner of Taraba State, adjoining the Mambilla Plateau. Mostly mountainous, from 457 to 2407 meters, it contains Nigeria’s highest mountain, Chapal Waddi (2409m). It is the most ecologically diverse conservation area in the country and contains swaths of guinea savanna, gallery forest, moist forest, mountain forest and grassland. Many rivers flow through the park, including the Taraba, a major tributary of the River Benue. A wide variety of animal life can be found, including buffalo, roan antelope, chimpanzee, colobus monkey, hippopotamus, hyena, giant forest hog, lion and leopard. The park is a birdwatcher’s paradise with a wide variety of species, and there is excellent fishing in the River Kam. The reserve headquarters is in the Forest Rest Houses at Serti, on the main road between Bali and Mambilla Plateau. These rest houses provide self-catering accommodation at a small fee. The entrance to the park is about 15 km south of Serti. In the dry season, it is possible to drive to the former headquarters at Gashaka village, some 30 km from the entrance gate, where more self-catering accommodation is available. The park is best explored on foot and it is possible to hire game guards; guides and porters are available at Serti or in Gashaka village.
Cross River National Park
The Cross River National Park was created from two existing forest reserves of Bashi-Okwango and Oban Forest Resveres. It is famous for its unique rain forest vegetation which, according to conservation experts, is some of the richest in Africa. This park contains the last remaining rain forest in Nigeria, which is being preserved with the help of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation. It has a herd of forest elephants, the white-faced monkey (indigenous to Nigeria only), buffalo, leopards and lowland gorillas, besides over a thousand other animal species. The park has a tropical climate characterized by a rainy season between April and October and a dry season between November and April. The moist green vegetation cover makes the forest an excellent place to see birds and butterflies.
The Kainji National Park
This Park, in Kwara State, was established in 1979 and incorporates the Borgu Game Reserve and Zugurma Game Reserve to the southeast in Niger State. The Bourgu sector of the park alone covers an area of about of 3,929 sq. km. of savanna woodland, and Zugurma cover an area of about 1,370 sq. km.The Kainji National Park also contains the Kainji Dam, an artificial lake which covers the town of Old Bussa. Here Mungo Park, the explorer, was said to have come to grief in 1805. Now the lake hides the scene of the accident. The lake is 136 km long and tours of the dam are available on request from the Nigeria Electric Power Authority. Boat trips on the lake can be arranged by the Borgu Game Reserve office at Wawa. To reduce the expense, it is better for several visitors to share the cost. Fishing is allowed on the lake.
ARGUNGU FISHING FESTIVAL
This colorful annual festival takes place in Arugungu, a riverside town in Kebbi State, about 64 miles from Sokoto. The leading tourist attraction in the area, the festival originated in Aug. 1934, when the late Sultan Dan Mu’azu made an historic visit. In tribute, a grand fishing festival was organized. Since then, it’s become a celebrated yearly event held between Feb. and March. During the festival, hundreds of local men and boys enter the water, armed with large fishnet scoops. They are joined by canoes filled with drummers, plus men rattling huge seed-filled gourds to drive the fish to shallow waters. Vast nets are cast and a wealth of fish are harvested, from giant Nile Perch to the peculiar Balloon Fish. Furthermore there’s canoe racing, wild duck hunting, bare-handed fishing, diving competitions and naturally, swimming. Afterwards, there is drinking, singing and dancing into the night.
The Argungu Fishing Festival is an annual four day festival in Kebbi State of Nigeria. The final day of the festival, a competition is held in which thousands of men and women line up along the river and at the sound of a gun shot, all of them jump into the river and have an hour to catch the largest fish
The Borgu Sector of Lake Kainji National Park was set up as a Federal Game Reserve and is one of the largest in West Africa. The area was uninhabited and the idea for the park was conceived in 1960. It is in the northern guinea vegetation zone which is characterized by tall grasses and savanna woodland. The park retains a robust animal population including antelope, lion, hippopotamus, buffalo, roan antelope, jackal, baboon, monkey and crocodile. The park is usually open from December to June, with the best time to visit towards the end of the dry season, when the grass has dried out and the animals move closer to the water. Tourist should expect Harmattan (dry wind) from December to mid-February. The best times for game viewing are in the early morning or evening, and trips can be arranged from 6:00 am, either in park vehicles or visitor’s own vehicle. Bird life is abundant, especially near the river. Visitors should call the Wawa Game Warden’s office (11 miles from New Bussa) for a briefing and to also reserve a game guide. The entrance to the reserve is approximately 19 miles from Wawa along a laterite road, and the oil river camp is a further 32 miles from the entrance. Many Nigerians and foreigners make day trips to
Kainji or pass by it on their way to other parts of the country. Despite the provisions at Kainji and New Bussa, hotel accommodation is insufficient to encourage many people to stay for long periods.
The Durbar Festival is reserved only for visiting Heads of State
The Durbar festival dates back hundreds of years to the time when the Emirate (state) in the north used horses in warfare. During this period, each town, district, and nobility household was expected to contribute a regiment to the defense of the Emirate. Once or twice a year, the Emirate military chiefs invited the various regiments for a Durbar (military parade) for the Emir and his chiefs. During the parade, regiments would showcase their horsemanship, their preparedness for war, and their loyalty to the Emirate. Today, Durbar has become a festival celebrated in honor of visiting Heads of State and at the culmination of the two great Muslim festivals, Id-el Fitri (commemorating the end of the holy month of Ramadan) and Ide-el Kabir (commemorating Prophet Ibrahim sacrificing a ram instead of his son). Of all the modern day Durbar festivals, Katsina Durbar is the most magnificent and spectacular. Id-el-Kabir, or Sallah Day, in Katsina begins with prayers outside town, followed by processions of horsemen to the public square in front of the Emir’s palace, where each village group, district, and noble house take their assigned place. Last to arrive is the Emir and his splendid retinue; they take up their place in front of the palace to receive the jahi, or homage, of their subjects.
The festival begins with each group racing across the square at full gallop, swords glinting in the sun. They pass just few feet away from the Emir, then stop abruptly to salute him with raised swords.
The last and most fierce riders are the Emir’s household and regimental guards, the Dogari. After the celebrations, the Emir and his chiefs retire to the palace, and enjoyment of the occasion reigns. This fanfare is intensified by drumming, dancing and singing, with small bands of Fulanis performing shadi, a fascinating sideshow to behold.
Coconut Beach is a beautiful beach in the coastal town of Badagry, west of Lagos. The beach is attractively set in an area surrounded by coconut trees. About 20 miles towards the border of Nigeria and the Republic of Benin, Coconut Beach is accessible through the Lagos-Badagry expressway. Visitors will find a friendly relaxed atmosphere.
Bar Beach, also known as Victoria Beach, is the most popular beach among Nigerians. The main beach on Victoria Island is located along Ahmadu Bello Way opposite the Federal Guest House. It is usually crowded with Nigerians on public holidays.
Tarkwa Bay is a sheltered beach along the Lagos harbor. It is accessible by a ‘trazan’ boa from Maroko or ‘fiki’ boat from under Falo Bridge on Victoria Island. This beach provides a pleasant outing with safe swimming conditions, even for small children. Tourist may obtain deck chairs and an awning on the beach, for relaxed, casual comfort. Local yen dots sell delicious pineapples, coconuts and variety of other delightful treats.
This superb beach, at the mouth of the new Calabar River, is about 2 miles long and 500 feet wide, uninhabited save for a solitary fisherman’s hut. The beach is virtually isolated and lends visitors the luxury of privacy in a beautiful setting off the beaten path. Since the beach is flanked by a swamp and can only be reached by boat or canoe, getting there is half the fun and enhances one’s fascination with this enchanted locale.
There are several beaches along the Lekki Peninsula, the foremost being Lekki Beach, located a few miles from the city center. Lekki Beach is another of Lagos’ attractive beaches and remains popular with foreign tourists. Beach shelters made of palm fronds and umbrellas, available for rent, keep the sun at bay, as well as provide a place to enjoy snacks or refreshments sold by local traders.
Opened in 1989, Eleko is the newest of Lagos’ Beaches, down the Lekki Peninsula about 30 miles from Lagos. There are no traders and no distractions on Eleko Beach, just peace and tranquillity, ideal for those seeking privacy.
The Obudu Ranch
The Obudu Ranch is a popular holiday destination for adventurous tourists wishing to explore the remote corners of Nigeria. Situated in the northeast corner of Cross River State, only 45 miles from the Cameroon border, a tourist can enjoy the countryside of both Nigeria and Cameroon at the same time.
The Obudu Plateau is spread over an area of 40 sq. miles. It is 5,200 feet above sea level. The climate is cool and pleasant with no mosquitoes. The landscape is spectacular, with rolling grasslands, deep-wooded valleys and waterfalls. Iris best to visit Obudu in the dry season since during the rainy season much of the ranch may be covered in mist and low clouds and there are thunderstorms. Between Dec. and Feb. the harmattan is heavy; therefore, the best times for a visit are the end of Oct. to Dec. and March to May before the rainy season.
Boat Dance from Delta State of Nigeria
Gorilla Camp, 13 km from the hotel, is accessible either by vehicle or on foot, where one can take a long, picturesque walk to the camp, and observe gorillas in their natural habitat. Guests may also ride horses or embark on hiking trips into the wild (comfortable shoes and a guide are recommended). Birdwatching here is unparalleled and there is a pleasantly shaded natural swimming pool near the Ranch House. If visitors accept the challenge of a three-hour hike, they’ll be rewarded with a stop at the waterfall, nestled amid captivating scenery. In spite of the altitude, it can get quite hot in the day, with five sunshine hours in the dry season (Oct. - April) and roughly two during rainy season (July to Aug.). Other activities include: golf, badminton, lawn tennis, squash and horseback riding. The latest attraction at the Obudu Ranch is a cable-car (similar to Europe's) that runs from the foot of the hill to the top, easing transportation and providing spectacular sceneries.
The Zuma Rock Abuja
The Ranch Hotel maintains 33 chalets and boasts a friendly staff, superb restaurant and bar, and laundry/dry cleaning services. Chalets provide exquisite comfort with a large sitting room, color TV, VCR, cocktail bar, kitchen & spacious bedroom with double bed. The Ranch Hotel operates 24-hours during peak periods, Sept.-Dec., reservations should be made at the Cross River State House in Lagos. Or, by mail to: Hotel Manager, Obudu Cattle Ranch, P.O. Box 87, Obudu, Cross River State, Nigeria.
The sights are spectacular on the drive east, through rolling mountains and the dense forest with trees so high their branches form a canopy, shading out the sun entirely. This phenomenon has led to the area being called “Nigeria’s Amazon,” and is not to be missed. However, should one prefer to fly, they can do so from any major city to Calabar then proceed by car over the five hour route via Ikom.
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