Geographic Facts about Nigeria
Geographic Facts about Nigeria: Physical characteristics of Nigeria
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a country located in western Africa between Benin Republic and Cameroon on the western and eastern borders respectively. The northern part of Nigeria is bordered by Niger and Chad Republic while the southern border is the gulf of Guinea at the Atlantic Ocean.
Geographic Coordinates of Nigeria:
Nigeria is located within 10 00 N, 8 00 E
Land Mass of Nigeria:
Nigeria covers an area of 923,768 sq km (356,669 sq miles). This value includes landed area which measures about 910,768 sq km and areas covered by water which measures about 13,000 sq km. At its greatest expanse, it measures about 1,200 km (about 750 miles) from east to west and about 1,050 km (about 650 miles) from north to south.
The highest point is Chappal Waddi measuring 2,419 m above sea level while the lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean: 0m. Comparatively, Nigeria is slightly more than twice the size of California, about 4 times the size of Ghana and about 12 to 13 times the size of Togo.
Land usage in Nigeria
Arable land: 31.29%
Permanent crops: 2.96%
other: 65.75% (2001 estimate)
The physical characteristics of Nigeria would not be complete without mentioning the topography of Nigeria. Nigeria’s topography ranges from lowlands along the coast and in the lower Niger Valley to high plateaus in the north and mountains along the eastern border. The broad, mostly level valleys of the Niger and Benue rivers form Nigeria’s largest physical region.
Physical Characteristics and topography of northern Nigeria:
North of the Niger Benue basin are the high plains of Hausa land, an area of relatively level topography that averages about 800 m (about 2,500 ft) above the sea level, with isolated granite outcroppings.
The Jos Plateau rises steeply above the surrounding plains to an average elevation of about 1,300 m (about 4,200 ft). To the northwest, the high plains descend into the Sokoto lowland while at the north-eastern part of Nigeria, the plains of Hausa land grade into the basin of Lake Chad; the area is characterized by somewhat lower elevations, level terrain, and sandy soils.
Physical characteristics and topography of south western Nigeria:
Within the topography of the south-western Nigeria lies the comparatively rugged terrain of the Yoruba highlands. Between the highlands and the ocean runs a coastal plain averaging 80 km (50 miles) in width from the border of Benin to the Niger Delta. The delta which separates the south-western coast from the south-eastern coast is 36,000 sq km (14,000 sq mi) and comprises of low-lying, swampy terrain and multiple creeks through which the waters of the great river empty into the ocean.
Physical characteristics and topography of south-eastern Nigeria:
South eastern coastal Nigeria consists of low lying plains that are essentially an extension of the south western coastal plains. It is marked by a series of sandbars, backed by lagoons of brackish water that support the growth of mangroves. Large parts of Africa’s Bight of Benin and Bight of Biafra fall along the coast in the south.
Migrating inwards from the south eastern coast are progressively higher regions. In some areas, such as the Udi Hills located northwest of Enugu, escarpments have been formed by dipping rock strata. Farther east, along Nigeria’s border with Cameroon, lie the eastern highlands, made of several distinct ranges and plateaus, including the Alantika Mountains, Mandara Mountains, the Shebeshi Mountains, and the Mambila Mountains.
Nigeria: Climate and Vegetation
Nigeria has a predorminantly tropical climate with sharp regional variances depending on rainfall. There is a region of intertropical discontinuity where dusty air from the Sahara converges with the warm and moist air from the Atlantic. The season when this is marked is popularly known as harmattan. During the summer, the zone of intertropical discontinuity follows the Sun northward. As a result, more and more of the country comes under the influence of moisture-laden tropical maritime air. Thus, much of the country experiences a rainy season during summer. As summer wanes, the zone shifts southward, bringing an end to the rainy season. Temperatures are high throughout the year, averaging from 25° to 30°C. temperature gets up to 35°C during certain periods. In the higher elevations of the Jos Plateau, temperatures average 22°C (72°F). Northern Nigeria typically experiences greater extremes of temperature than the south.
Rainfall variations occur widely over from year to year. Parts of the coast along the Niger Delta experiences year-round rainy season and receive more than 4,000 mm of rain each year. Most of Nigeria’s middle belt, where the rainy season starts in April or May and runs through September or October, receives from 1,000 to 1,500 mm (40 to 60 inches). Within this region, the Jos Plateau receives somewhat more rain, due to its higher elevation. In the dry savanna regions of the northern Nigeria, rainfall is especially variable. The region along Nigeria’s northeastern border receives less than 500 mm (20 in) of rain per year, and the rainy season lasts barely three months.
Vegetation also varies dramatically in relation to climate, soil, elevation, and human impact on the environment. Mangroves line the brackish lagoons and creeks in the low-lying coastal region while swamp forest grows where the water is fresh. Farther inland, this vegetation gives way to tropical forest, with its many species of trees including mahogany, iroko, and obeche. Elsewhere, forest is largely secondary growth, primarily of species like the oil palm which constitutes the main tree found in Nigeria. Forests cover only about 12 percent (2005) of the country’s total land area.
Ascending upwards of the forest region is the savannah (guinea sudan and sahel) which is a region of tall grasses and trees. The southern margins of the Guinea savannah were created by repeated burning of forest until only open forest and grassland were left hence it can often be referred to as derived savannah. The burnings destroyed important fire-sensitive plant species and contributed to erosion by removing ground cover. Tropical forest is giving way to the Guinea savannah at such a rate that the only forests expected to survive the next generation are those in reserves. Beyond the Guinea savannah lies the drier Sudan savannah, a region of shorter grasses and more scattered, drought-resistant trees such as the baobab, tamarind, and acacia. In Nigeria’s very dry north-eastern corner, the semi desert Sahel savannah persists. Hence the main trees found in Nigeria are the palm trees especially at the southern part while the northern part of the country offers more of drought resistant trees like baobab, neem plant.
Rivers, Lakes and Streams in Nigeria
Though there are two main rivers in Nigeria i.e. river Niger and river Benue, there are equally several other rivers and lakes. River Benue is often considered as a tributary of river Niger. About two-thirds of Nigeria lies in the watershed of the Niger River and its major tributaries: the river Benue in the northeast, the Kaduna river in the west, the Sokoto river in the northwest, and the Anambra river in the southeast. River Niger empties into the Atlantic ocean at the Niger Delta. The Niger River is Africa’s third longest river and fifth largest in terms of discharge. Several rivers of the watershed flow directly to the Atlantic, notably the Cross river in south-eastern Nigeria and the river Ogun, Oshun, and Osse in the southwest.
Several other rivers in the north-eastern Nigeria, including the Komadugu Gana and its tributaries, flow into Lake Chad which rests in the center of a major drainage basin at the point where Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Cameroon meet popularly known as Kainji Lake, created in the late 1960s by the construction of the Kainji Dam on the Niger River. In the south east, there is the Agulu lake in Anambra state.
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