Cruising to Nigeria


Following nearly 16 years of military rule, a new constitution was adopted in 1999, and a peaceful transition to civilian government was completed. The president faces the daunting task of reforming a petroleum-based economy, whose revenues have been squandered through corruption and mismanagement, and institutionalizing democracy.

In addition, the OBASANJO administration must defuse longstanding ethnic and religious tensions, if it is to build a sound foundation for economic growth and political stability. Although the April 2003 elections were marred by some irregularities, Nigeria is currently experiencing its longest period of civilian rule since independence.


Location: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Benin and Cameroon
Geographic coordinates: 10 00 N, 8 00 E
Map references: Africa
Area: total: 923,768 sq km


853 km

Maritime claims

Territorial sea: 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation


Varies; equatorial in south, tropical in center, arid in north


Southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in southeast, plains in north

Elevation extremes

Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
Highest point: Chappal Waddi 2,419 m


Oil-rich Nigeria, long hobbled by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and poor macroeconomic management, is undertaking some reforms under a new reform-minded administration. Nigeria's former military rulers failed to diversify the economy away from its overdependence on the capital-intensive oil sector, which provides 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings, and about 65% of budgetary revenues.

The largely subsistence agricultural sector has failed to keep up with rapid population growth - Nigeria is Africa's most populous country - and the country, once a large net exporter of food, now must import food. Following the signing of an IMF stand-by agreement in August 2000, Nigeria received a debt-restructuring deal from the Paris Club and a $1 billion credit from the IMF, both contingent on economic reforms.

Nigeria pulled out of its IMF program in April 2002, after failing to meet spending and exchange rate targets, making it ineligible for additional debt forgiveness from the Paris Club. In the last year the government has begun showing the political will to implement the market-oriented reforms urged by the IMF, such as to modernize the banking system, to curb inflation by blocking excessive wage demands, and to resolve regional disputes over the distribution of earnings from the oil industry.

In 2003, the government began deregulating fuel prices, announced the privatization of the country's four oil refineries, and instituted the National Economic Empowerment Development Strategy, a domestically designed and run program modeled on the IMF's Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility for fiscal and monetary management. GDP rose strongly in 2005, based largely on increased oil exports and high global crude prices.

In November 2005, Abuja won Paris Club approval for a historic debt-relief deal that by March 2006 should eliminate $30 billion worth of Nigeria's total $37 billion external debt. The deal first requires that Nigeria repay roughly $12 billion in arrears to its bilateral creditors. Nigeria would then be allowed to buy back its remaining debt stock at a discount. The deal also commits Nigeria to more intensified IMF reviews.


Airports: 70 (2005)
Airports - with paved runways: total: 36
Airports - with unpaved runways: total: 34
Heliports: 1 (2005)
Pipelines: condensate 105 km; gas 1,896 km; oil 3,638 km; refined products 3,626 km (2004)
Railways: total: 3,557 km
Roadways: total: 194,394 km


8,600 km (Niger and Benue rivers and smaller rivers and creeks) (2005)

Merchant marine

Total: 49 ships (1000 GRT or over) 263,452 GRT/452,012 DWT
By type: barge carrier 1, cargo 5, chemical tanker 7, liquefied gas 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 33, specialized tanker 1
Foreign-owned: 3 (Norway 1, Pakistan 1, Singapore 1)
Registered in other countries: 26 (The Bahamas 2, Bermuda 10, Cambodia 2, Comoros 2, Panama 6, Seychelles 1, unknown 3) (2005)

Sailing Specifics: Ports and terminals

Bonny Inshore Terminal, Calabar, Lagos, Port Harcourt

Other Sailing Destinations in the Region

Angola - Antarctica - Cameroon - Congo - Falkland Islands - Gambia - Ivory Coast - Mauritania - Namibia - Nigeria - St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha - Senegal - South Africa

Further Reading

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