DANCING PANDAS

Journaling The Journey

Nigeria: 15 Interesting & Strange Facts

Lagos Nigeria, Lekki Conservation Centre, Nigeria Interesting facts

Nigeria is a land that pulsates with energy, a kaleidoscope of cultures, and a dash of the strange and extraordinary. While it may not be your typical tourist destination, a trip offers a glimpse into the life and culture of this bustling nation.

We experienced 15 interesting & some strange facts about Nigeria.  Given our adventures here, we wanted to share our findings with you, so that you are prepared if you visit this fascinating country.

1. Unexpected Hospitality

Nike Art Gallery Art, Lagos Nigeria, interesting facts Nigeria
Nike Art Gallery showing off art of artists from Nigeria

After travelling to almost every country in the world, we have faced some unpleasant immigration officers when landing in a country.  However, in Nigeria, our immigration officer was all smiles and had the most welcoming attitude.  Over an hour after we got stamped in, we were still waiting for our ride share to arrive.  Our immigration angel who had finished her shift happened to spot us waiting outside.

She immediately got us back into the airport with her badge and helped us navigate the difficult ATM system to make sure that we got some cash for our cab.  And to boot she stayed with us until the ride share driver arrived, ensuring a smooth transition.  This amazing woman who went above and beyond will stay with us forever.

2. Cash Quest

ATMs in Nigeria present a unique challenge, transforming a simple cash withdrawal into a strategic game.  Most ATMs have a cash withdrawal limit of 5,000 Nigerian Naira (worth approximately $3.67 USD at time of writing).  And most machines allow you no more than 4-5 times to withdraw this small amount (paying a withdrawal fee with each transaction).

International credit cards do not work in most establishments.  The only place that had an international credit card machine was the Lekki Conservation Centre.

Therefore we highly recommend bringing some foreign currency with you – USD or Euros are best.  There are people who exchange your cash all over the city and even outside the airport.  Just beware of scammers and make sure that you count your change before giving them your foreign bills.

3. Largest City, Country and Economy!

Did you know that Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and has over 223 million people living here?  In addition, Lagos is the most populous city in all of Africa (not Abuja the capital of Nigeria).

In addition, Nigeria reigned supreme as the largest economy in Africa, boasting a GDP of approximately $477.38 billion USD.  However, given the devaluation of it’s currency it slipped into 4th place behind South Africa, Ethiopia and Algeria in 2024.

4. 525 Indigenous Languages

Nike Art Gallery Lagos Nigeria, interesting facts Nigeria
Nike Art Gallery art

Nigeria is home to 525 distinct native languages, many of which have been around for four millennia.  This country makes for a fascinating study from a linguistic perspective! English is the official language.  However, the Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo are the most prominent languages and cultures in the country.

5. Shocking Racism

Although we have spent a lot of time in Africa, it was in Lagos that we first shockingly encountered black on black racism.  It was evident wherever we went.  Sadly, we were treated better than visitors with darker skin than ours.

For instance, no one said a word to me when I entered the Nike Art Gallery wearing a large backpack.  However, the black women with small purses were made to leave them in the front of the Gallery.  When I saw this, I immediately went to the front desk to deposit my backpack only to be told that I didn’t have to.

6. Crazy Traffic

Traffic lights and signs in Nigeria are more like friendly suggestions than ironclad rules. Pedestrians, take caution! These bustling streets require a healthy dose of awareness, a dash of local know-how, and maybe even a touch of bravery.

Navigating the streets becomes a dance, a constant ebb and flow of cars, buses, motorbikes, and the occasional determined goat. Going through a red light or passing other cars on the pedestrian path became a normal encounter while in a cab.

7. Longest Canopy Walk in Africa: Lekki Conservation Centre

Lekki Conservation Centre, Lagos Nigeria, interesting facts Nigeria
Lekki Conservation Centre is an oasis of nature in the congested financial capital , Lagos Nigeria

Escape the urban jungle and delve into the lush jungle of the Lekki Conservation Centre. Here, the longest canopy walk in Africa offers breathtaking panoramas of the rain-forest, a chance to commune with nature and spot a kaleidoscope of birdlife.

But here’s a pro-tip: pack light and fragrance-free! The resident monkeys have a nose for snacks, and a forgotten fruit bar can turn into a hilarious (or slightly terrifying) game of purse-snatching. I had a piece of fruit inside a tightly sealed Tupperware container.  It was then inside a ziplock back and further inside another plastic bag inside my backpack.  I thought I was safe.

However, the gang of monkeys could smell the fruit from about 20 meters away.  They watched me carefully, and as soon as I passed them on the walkway, they jumped on my backpack and would not let go.  The security guy had to get the monkey off of me.

8. Odd Eating Behaviors

Head to a local restaurant serving  chicken and you will see how Nigerians savor every morsel of whatever they eat.  And yes, that includes the bone marrow.   Bones get cracked broken and the juices are slurped out with enthusiasm.  As a vegan, this was a difficult situation to endure, but I applaud the will to eat every part of the animal and not waste a drop!

9. Don’t Say You Are An Atheist

Nigeria is a deeply religious country, with Christianity and Islam holding a dominant place in society. While open discussions about atheism are uncommon, respecting the local culture goes a long way.   Finding out that we don’t belong to a specific religion was quite shocking to most Nigerians who wanted to know which “God” we believed in.

10. Everyone Must Get Married and Have Children

Nike Art Gallery, interesting facts Nigeria
Nike Art Gallery in Lagos

Marriage and family hold a significant place in Nigerian society. Being single and/or childless raises questions from curious locals, as this is something that they do not understand as a choice.  We had some interesting conversations as an opportunity for cultural exchange. Share your own traditions and experiences, and be prepared to learn about the importance of a traditional family in Nigerian life.

11. Difficult Entry Visas

Here’s where Nigeria throws a curve ball for international visitors. Unlike many countries, tourist visas aren’t readily available. For most travelers, entry hinges on a business visa, which can be expensive and often requires the help of a “fixer” – a local facilitator who navigates the complex application process. While this might seem like an unexpected hurdle, the process is quite straight forward.

If you are looking for a fixer to help you, leave a message in the comments and we will provide the contact information for the “fixer” who helped us.

12. World’s Largest Slum is in Lagos

Makoko Slum, Lagos Nigeria, interesting facts Nigeria
Makoko Slum, Lagos Nigeria

Lagos Nigeria has the largest slum in the world!  And one can actually venture beyond the tourist hotspots and delve into the heart of Lagos, where a different kind of adventure awaits. Makoko Slum, a maze of wooden structures perched precariously on the murky water of the lagoon, is the largest floating slum in the world.

Here, life unfolds on the water, with homes, shops, and even schools built on stilts. While poverty is evident, there’s also a vibrant spirit that pulsates through the community. Taking a boat tour through Makoko offers a glimpse into this unique world, a chance to witness the resilience and resourcefulness of its inhabitants.

However, it’s important to approach this experience with sensitivity and respect. Choose a tour operator that works directly with the community, ensuring your visit benefits the locals rather than exploits them.

13. A Night on the Town: Lagos After Dark

As the sun dips below the horizon, Lagos transforms into a city that pulsates with energy. The vibrant nightlife scene spills out onto the streets, with open-air bars pulsating with Afrobeats and high-life music. Head to The Shrine, the legendary nightclub founded by Fela Kuti, the godfather of Afrobeat, and let the infectious rhythm wash over you.

Or venture to one of the many rooftop bars, where the cityscape twinkles like a million scattered diamonds. A night out in Lagos is an immersive experience, a chance to lose yourself in the music, mingle with the locals, and feel the electric pulse of the city.

14. No Public Affection

Lekki Conservation Centre
Lekki Conservation Centre has a myriad of birds and other animals including this peacock.

Similar to many other conservative countries, displays of public affection, like kissing on the lips are highly frowned upon in Nigeria.  Moreover, same sex couples are forbidden from displaying affection of any kind.

Nigeria has strict laws against same-sex relationships.  Therefore it is recommended for same sex couples to avoid public displays of affection of any kind.  Cross-dressing is forbidden.

In Sharia law states, there are harsh punishments for same-sex relationships, adultery and stealing, as well as for speech or public expression deemed blasphemous or religiously disrespectful.

15. No Direct Eye Contact

A visit to Nigeria requires some cultural awareness. Unlike Western cultures where eye contact signifies respect, direct eye contact in Nigeria can be seen as aggressive. Understanding these subtleties enriches the travel experience and fosters a deeper connection with the people.

Wrap Up -Nigeria Interesting Facts

Lekki Conservation Centre Lagos Nigeria Mono Monkey
A mono monkey in the Lekki Conservation Centre

Nigeria is a land of captivating contrasts, where genuine hospitality thrives amidst bustling streets.  However, there are many divides in this country.  The biggest contrast is the difference between the haves and the have nots.  For a country that is the most populous and having one of the biggest economies in Africa it was difficult to see the slums and the abject poverty.  Moreover, the black on black racism was equally disturbing and shocking.

Originally, we had expected Ghana to be a more difficult country to travel through.  However, in the end we found Nigeria to be harsher, dirtier and less relatable than it’s neighboring country Ghana.

Have you traveled through Nigeria?  What was your experience like?  We would love to hear from you in the comments.

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