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Nigeria

The Avenue Suites
The Avenue Suites - dream vacation

1390 Tiamiyu Savage Victoria island, Lagos

3j's Hotel
3j's Hotel - dream vacation

31,P.O.W Mafemi Crescent , Abuja

Planet One Hotel and Wellness
Planet One Hotel and Wellness - dream vacation

3 Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way Maryland, Lagos

Ibis Lagos Airport
Ibis Lagos Airport - dream vacation

Murtala Mohamed Intl Airport Road Ajao Estate, Lagos

Hotel De Bently
Hotel De Bently - dream vacation

N. Okonjo Iweala Way, Utako, Abuja

Sheraton Lagos Hotel and Towers
Sheraton Lagos Hotel and Towers - dream vacation

30 Mobolaji Bank Anthony Way, Lagos

Nigeria (Hausa: Nijeriya, Igbo: Naíjíríà, Yoruba: Nàìjíríà) is a country in equatorial West Africa. It is the continent's most populous nation. It has a southern coastline on the Gulf of Guinea, and has Benin to the west, Cameroon to the southeast, Chad to the northeast, and Niger to the north. It is Africa's most populous country and the world's 7th most populous, and also the largest oil producer and third largest economy in Africa. The northern parts of the country may be dangerous due to the influence of an Islamist rebel group ISWAP, also called Boko Haram.

Regions

Cities

  • Abuja — the capital, with beautiful rolling terrain and modern Nigerian architecture
  • Benin City — city of the Edo people
  • Calabar — oil region, with the world's highest concentration of butterflies in the surrounding regions
  • Enugu — the coal city
  • Ibadan — geographically the largest city in Africa
  • Kano — important Hausa city, commercial hub of the north
  • Lagos — second most populous city in Africa, former colonial capital and huge commercial hub
  • Osogbo — home of the Sacred Grove of Osun, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Port Harcourt — port city in the oil region

Other destinations

  • Kainji National Park
  • Yankari National Park

Understand

History

The pre-colonial era

Tiv culture in the north central region of Nigeria dates to 6 BC. Some of the famous bronze terracotta sculpture heads from this culture have been shown around the world.

In the northern part of the country, Kano and Katsina have recorded history which dates back to around 999.

The kingdoms of If? and Oyo in the western block of Nigeria became prominent about 700–900 and 1400 respectively. The Yoruba mythology believes that Ile-Ife is the source of the human race and that it predates any other civilization. Another prominent kingdom in south western Nigeria was the Kingdom of Benin whose power lasted between the 15th and 19th century. Their dominance reached as far as the well known city of Eko, later named Lagos by the Portuguese.

In southeastern Nigeria the Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people flourished from around the 10th century until 1911 and the city of Nri is considered to be the foundation of Igbo culture.

In northeastern Nigeria, the Kanem Empire ruled from the 8th century to 1376 and was succeeded by the Bornu Empire, which was a powerful Islamic monarchy until it was defeated by the Fulani in the early 19th century.

The first Hausa kingdom was actually ruled by a queen, Amina, in the 11th century. Hausa kingdoms, based in what's now northern Nigeria, flourished from the 15th to 18th centuries, before eventually being defeated by the Fulani, who proclaimed the Sokoto Caliphate in 1809. The Sokoto Caliphate ruled for less than 100 years before being abolished by the British.

Although the Bornu Empire and Sokoto Caliphate were eventually absorbed into British Nigeria, the descendants of the rulers retained their titles and influence through the colonial period and maintain them to this day.

Colonial era

Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to begin trade in Nigeria, and called the main port Lagos after the Portuguese town of Lagos, in Algarve. This name stuck on with more European trade with the region. The Europeans traded with the ethnicities of the coast and also established a trade in slaves which affected many Nigerian ethnicities. Following the Napoleonic Wars, the British expanded trade with the Nigerian interior.

In 1885 British claims to a West African sphere of influence received international recognition and in the following year the Royal Niger Company was chartered. In 1900 the company's territory came under the control of the British government, which moved to consolidate its hold over the area of modern Nigeria. On January 1, 1901 Nigeria became a British protectorate (northern and southern protectorates) and part of the British Empire. In 1914 the northern protectorate and the southern protectorate under the colonial rule were merged forming one single entity named "Nigeria" (meaning: Niger[river Niger] area. The name "Nigeria" was given by the wife of the British Governor-General in charge of the country - Sir Lord Lugard.

Following World War II, in response to the growth of Nigerian nationalism and demands for independence, successive constitutions legislated by the British Government moved Nigeria toward self-government on a representative and increasingly federal basis. By the middle of the 20th century, the great wave for independence was sweeping across Africa.

Post-independence

On October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom. As was the habit of colonialists during that era, no attention was paid to the fact that the "protectorates" suddenly and quite chaotically merged hundreds of distinct and autonomous ethnicities, or to the fact that some communities were ripped apart by the sudden construction of boundaries that never existed before. There was never a truly developed sense of singular Nigerian identity. In part, it was this disequilibrium which set the stage in 1966 for several successive military coups.

The Northern coup, which was mostly motivated by ethnic and religious reasons, was a bloodbath of both military officers and civilians, especially those of Igbo extraction. The violence against the Igbo increased their desire for autonomy and protection from the military's wrath. By May 1967, the Eastern Region had declared itself an independent state called the Republic of Biafra and the 30-month Nigerian Civil War began. More than one million people died, many of them starving to death before Biafra was defeated.

During the oil boom of the 1970s, Nigeria joined OPEC and billions of dollars generated by production in the oil-rich Niger Delta flowed into the coffers of the Nigerian state. However, increasing corruption and graft at all levels of government squandered most of these earnings. Nigeria re-achieved democracy in 1999 and although the elections which brought Obasanjo to power in 1999 and again in 2003 were condemned as unfree and unfair, Nigeria has shown marked improvements in attempts to tackle government corruption and to hasten development. Ethnic violence over the lack of profit-sharing with residents of the oil-producing Niger Delta region and inadequate infrastructures are some of the current issues in the country.

Climate

Varies; equatorial in the south, tropical in the centre, arid in the north. Natural hazards include periodic droughts and flooding. Tornadoes and hurricanes are rare because they typically are weak at this stage and travel west of the Atlantic.

Terrain

Southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in the southeast, plains in the north. The Niger river enters the country in the northwest and flows southward through tropical rain forests and swamps to its delta in the Gulf of Guinea. The highest point is Chappal Waddi at 2,419 m.

People

Known as the Giant of Africa, Nigeria has more than 500 ethnic groups with different languages and customs. The largest ethnic groups — Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani/Hausa and Tiv — comprise more than 75% of the population.

Holidays

  • New Year's Day (January 1)
  • Easter (Good Friday and Easter Monday, according to the Western Christian tradition)
  • Children's Day (May 27)
  • Democracy Day (May 29)
  • Eid al-Adha
  • Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan
  • Independence Day (October 1)
  • Christmas (December 25)
  • Boxing Day (December 26)

Get in

Entry requirements

Foreign nationals who are not citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) need to apply for a visa to enter Nigeria. This can be obtained through an online system, then finalised at Nigerian embassies, high commissions and consulates worldwide. In some countries, such as the UK, a service provider is also used for the visa application process.

Nigerian visas are expensive, requiring payment of fees to multiple offices. For an applicant in the UK, there will be a US$164 fee payable online, followed by UK£20 for the High Commission and GBP75 for OIS Services who process the visa. The price of posting or delivering/collecting the passport is extra.

If you require a visa to enter Nigeria, you might be able to apply for one at a British embassy, high commission or consulate in the country where you legally reside if there is no Nigerian diplomatic post. For example, the British embassies in Pristina and Sofia accept Nigerian visa applications (this list is not exhaustive). British diplomatic posts charge UK£50 to process a Nigerian visa application and an extra £70 if the authorities in Nigeria require the visa application to be referred to them. The authorities in Nigeria can also decide to charge an additional fee if they correspond with you directly.

Travellers entering Nigeria overland can easily pick up a tourist visa at the Nigerian embassy in Niamey, Niger. Requirements are two passport photos and a reference in Nigeria, no letter of invitation needed. The price is 75,000/140,000 CFA francs (€115/213) for a 3 month single-/multiple-entry visa for most EU-citizens and processing time is around one day (November 2016).

By plane

Arik and Bellview Airlines make local and international flights (to other African countries and London), Aero to other African countries. Air Nigeria (formerly Virgin Nigeria) has ceased operations. Arik Air plies these routes.

  • Several European airlines fly to Nigeria: British Airways (London Heathrow - Abuja, Lagos), Virgin Atlantic (London Heathrow - Lagos), KLM (Amsterdam - AbujaLagos, Kano), Air France (Paris-Charles de Gaulle - Lagos), Alitalia (Rome- Fiumicino - Accra, Lagos), Turkish Airline (Istanbul - Lagos), Lufthansa (Frankfurt - Abuja, Lagos), Iberia Airlines (Madrid - Lagos)
  • US Based Delta Airlines operates 5 x per week non-stop service from Atlanta to Lagos using a Boeing 777-200 aircraft.
  • United Airlines operates non-stop service from Houston Bush-Intercontinental to Lagos.

Delta Airlines has nonstop service from New York to Abuja three times per week on a wide-body Boeing 767-300.

  • Other inter-continental airlines fly to Lagos. They include: China Southern Airlines (Beijing, Dubai), Emirates (Dubai), Middle East Airlines (Beirut), Qatar Airways (Doha).
  • There are African companies: South African Airlines from Johannesburg, Egypt Air from Cairo, Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa, Kenya Airways from Nairobi, Afriqya Airways from Tripoli.
  • Besides these, there are other airlines (in addition to VNA and Bellview) that operate domestic and regional flights to places like Abidjan, Accra, Banjul, Conakry, Dakar, Douala, Freetown, Johannesburg, Libreville, Monrovia.
  • There are also airports in most states of the federation and local air travel is widespread.

By train

  • Majority of the trains in Nigeria are for transporting cargo but there are many that are meant for transportation of people .
  • The former president, Yar'adua, however, said that he planned to invest and aggressively pursue a nationwide train network which should be ready by 2011.
  • At the moment it is not advisable to travel on train especially if you are a foreign national.

By bus

Getting around is relatively easy, except that there could be delays due to traffic jams within most major cities. There are multitudes of coaches and buses that will take you to any part of Nigeria you wish (ABC Transport Services is well known for its services among others). Lagos state government also operates a transit system (BRT buses) which serves the Lagos metropolis.

By boat

Transport by boat isn't widespread unless you venture into the riverine areas of Nigeria.

Get around

It would be best to travel around in your own car or a hired one (with a driver) but there are various other modes of transport. The road systems in Nigeria are relatively poor compared with North American and European countries, but often still passable. The "okada" (motorcycle) is not for the faint-hearted (there used to be no helmets but as a law the rider is required to have two helmets for himself and a passenger) and should only be used for short distance journeys. "Okadas" will get you to where you want to go quickly and you may get there in one piece. In Lagos, there are lots of buses and taxis. There are two main types of buses, the molue (an old 911 Mercedes Benz truck turned into school-like bus and the danfo (a Volkswagen Kombi bus turned into an eight-seater minibus). Most smaller cities have more taxis than buses, and they are quite affordable.

For travelling from one city to another, you go to the "motor park", find the taxi that's going to your destination, and wait until it "fills up". The price is fixed, you don't have to negotiate. Some drivers may have a risky driving style however - practically this means that the only rule consistently adhered to (by cars, not necessarily motorcycles), is keeping to the right.

By car

Driving in Nigeria (especially Lagos) is somewhat unique, vaguely resembling driving in Cairo. If mastered, you should however be able to cope in most other countries on the planet. Or any other planet. While driving in Abuja is relatively decent due to regularly maintained roads, it still doesn't compare with the more developed countries.

Roads are bad. Expect potholes of every size. Expect people to drive on the wrong side to avoid potholes or just bad patches of road. Even on the highway. Expect the road to be gone. Expect everything.

Grass or branches on the road means there is a broken down vehicle ahead of you, be careful.

If you are white,get used to Nigerians shouting at you as you pass by. It will be something like "Oyibo", "Oniocha""MBakara", "Bature" or "white man" if you're white. It all means the same, they are just telling you.

Self-driving for short-term visitors unfamiliar with the roads, especially in Lagos, is by no means advisable and could actually be quite foolish if not dangerous. With crime on the rise, you could easily wander into an area or a road block set by local gangs. If you choose to rent a car, it will come with a driver familiar with the area and style of driving, which is a much easier and safer option.

If you as a foreigner wish to drive yourself, it is advisable to stick to the rules, as you will be an easy target for poorly paid police officers looking for somebody to "fine" (payable directly to the officer in cash without a ticket or receipt) for the most petty reasons like not indicating your intention of wanting to drive straight. Should you be pulled over, do not give your license, as you will then lose all bargaining power when negotiating the fine, which could easily be a maximum of all the visible cash you have on you at the time. Rather carry a copy of the license and hand that over, or show your license through your window. Also do not let the police get into your car. They are not really dangerous, but it could get expensive and certainly annoying. However, if you just don't pay and never get angry, it only costs time. They have no real power over you.

Especially over weekends and festive times, it is common practice for police, especially in the richer areas of Lagos, to flag you down and wish you happy weekend/holiday/Christmas/Easter/sunny weather/trip to work. In this case, you did nothing wrong and they do not intend to "fine" you, but are rather begging for some small money for them. If you insistently yet politely refuse to give something, they will eventually let you go. Just wish them a nice weekend/holiday/etc. too.

If you work for a big company in Nigeria, you will usually have a company driver to drive you around, thereby avoiding the abovementioned problems to a large extent. He can arrange a local driver's license for you should the need arise without a driving test or proof of foreign license.

Nigeria is not part of the most standard international Road Traffic Convention and as such will require a special International Driving Permit (valid only for driving in Nigeria, Somalia and Iraq) (if you do not want to get the Nigerian license), not the normal one applicable to almost all other countries in the world.

Lots of street sellers surround the car when you get to crossroads in crowded areas. You should not have a problem if you keep the windows and doors locked however.

The last Saturday of the month is Sanitation Day in Lagos and Kano, when the locals clean their premises. While it is not illegal to be out on the street between 7:00AM-10:00AM, due to the higher than usual presence of police officers and road check points, most Nigerians choose to restrict their movements until after 10:00AM. Should you be caught at this time, you may be taken away by the police to perform some "public sanitation" duty, like mowing lawns, etc.

By train

After having being abandoned for 30 years, rehabilitation of rail services in Nigeria are finally in full swing. Helped by Chinese investment several new lines are expected to open in the next few years while older lines are renovated. While still much slower than flying, it is now possible to travel across the country by train. Nigeria Railway Corporation is the sole operator, this might however change as the government mulls liberalization of the railway sector.

Lagos now has almost daily connections with cities in the interior of Nigeria such as Ilorin, Minna and Kaduna, even offering a once-weekly sleeper service all the way north to Kano.

By plane

Arik, Virgin Nigeria and Aero Contractors have good scheduled domestic connections with modern aircraft to most significant destinations at reasonable prices. There websites are very user friendly and well updated. In Lagos, the two domestic terminals, while next to each other, are about 4-5 km (of road which would not be wise to walk if you don't know the place) from the international terminal, and you would therefore need a taxi to get from the one to the other, should you wish to transfer from an international flight to a domestic one.

See

  • Lagos: Bar Beach, Badagary Beach, Tarkwa bay Beach
  • Lekki (suburb of Lagos): Lekki Forest Reserve - nice little fenced-off and interesting patch of tropical rainforest with wooden walkways located on the outskirts of the city (ask a taxi to take you to "across from Chevron Oil Company (who financed much of the refurbishment of the forest to look greener) on the Lekki Express Way, just before the second toll gate", as locals tend not to know about the existence of the place, so taxi will probably look at you with a "huh" expression even though he may drive past it daily), Lekki Beach, Eleko Beach
  • Hiking and tourism on the Plateau
  • Enugu: Hiking and traditional events, e.g. New yam and atiliogwu dancers
  • Calabar: Harbour where you can get boat rides, a nice cinema, sit-out parks and slave monuments in the Marina Resort located in Calabar; also there is Tinapa (the Nollywood studios) a little drive outside the city.
  • Obudu: Small town a few hours to the north from Calabar very close to the Cameroon border - rent a car from Calabar airport (comes with driver) and ask the driver to take you there via Tinapa. This is a cool mountain escape with a nice resort (Obudu Mountain Resort) on the mountain (the president also has a week-end home there). They have some forest walks, hiking, one of the longest cable cars in the world (Austrian built) and very nice pristine swimming pools with fountains available.
  • Imo: Igbo Ukwu Shrine, if you are interested in Nigerian art.

Talk

Languages  English (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Tiv, Fulani, Efik, Ejagham, Urhobo Edo and Idoma

The official language in Nigeria is English. That sounds reassuring, but Nigerian English can be surprisingly different. Most Nigerians speak pidgin English, which sometimes greatly differs from standard English, due to the addition of local slang and varying dialect.

For example, consider American Creoles in the Louisiana region or the over-exaggerated (but well recognized) Jamaican pidgin English. Understanding Nigerian pidgin English may take time for the unaccustomed ear, but it's definitely possible, not to mention exciting as the acquisition of a new language often is. The easiest way to overcome any initial language block is to ask questions. They will not hesitate to ask you to clarify what you mean, or admit that they do not understand an outsider's particular manner of phrasing. Do not assume that a Nigerian's inability to answer you indicates ignorance. Remember: initially, your English is as difficult to understand to them as theirs is to you. Once you both adjust yourselves to a newer cadence of English, the static will clear and mutual understanding will commence.

There are also dozens of African languages spoken in Nigeria. The three most spoken ones are Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo.

Buy

Money

Nigeria's currency is naira (symbol: ?, ISO 4217 code: NGN). Banknites circulate in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 and inflation typically runs in double figures.

It is advised to cash all your naira back into another currency at the airport before you leave Nigeria. The rate is irrelevant, as the naira is not worth that much outside Nigeria. Naira bills/coins may be of interest to currency collectors, but other than that, they will be nothing more than colourful souvenirs of your trip. Banks will change foreign currency to naira, but usually not the other way around, even though you are a foreigner. You would therefore need to use the Bureaux de Change at the International terminal or the new Domestic terminal or street vendors to get foreign currency should you end up with unused naira at the end of your trip. A safe place to change in Victoria Island is in the tourist market of Eco Hotel in Victoria Island (not the hotel reception which will give you rip-off rates).

If the Bureaux de Change at the airport do not want to help or are closed, the car park outside the International terminal is full of street vendors only willing to change money from any major currency. When dealing with these street vendors, keep the money you are buying fully visible until the deal is finished (i.e. don't put into handbag and later discover it is wrong and then try and bargain) and count carefully with them, as they tend to try and short-change you with a note or two, especially when you change foreign currency into naira (which is a thick bundle of small notes), but with necessary vigilance are generally fine. Street vendors are also plentiful at the main land borders to change naira into CFA francs (XOF (Benin and Niger side) or XAF (Cameroon side)) if need be. XOF and XAF are freely and easily convertible to and from euros at a rate of 655.957 (sometimes with a small commission) when you are in the French countries.

Changing large bills of US dollars or euros will give a better rate with professional money changers, such as on the currency exchange market near Lagos Domestic Airport. This is a walled enclosure with a large number of money changers, which is primarily used by local nationals.

If you have a Visa card, you can withdraw money from Standard Chartered Bank ATM Machine's in Lagos - Aromire St, off Adeniyi Jones, Ikeja & Ajose Adeogun St in Victoria Island Branch, Abuja and Port Harcourt (in Naira) and ATM Machines of some other banks with "Visa" stickers on them, like GT Bank, UBA, Zenith, etc. This will save you a lot of stress carrying large sums of money and it is secured.

On Abuja and Lagos International Airport money can be withdrawn from ATM machine's. On Lagos International there are several ATMs, several may not function at all times. On Lagos Domestic Terminal there is also a functioning ATM in the domestic terminal on the 1th floor. Usually this a quiet ATM which also is very private and secure.

MasterCard/Maestro users can also withdraw money from ATMs at several branches of Zenith Bank and GT Bank. Some ATM machines of Ecobank, First Bank and Intercontinental Bank also allow for MasterCard/Maestro cards. Look for the red ATM sign outside, or ask the on-site security officer at any branch. Also look for Ecobank, they have a branch within the premises of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport. Visa is however a safer option if you are visiting the French countries around Nigeria as well, as MasterCard/Maestro is close to useless in these countries.

If you do use an ATM, be aware of the risks of card cloning. This a problem with the airport ATM's which do not have a security guard watching over them. Check your statements regularly after using your card and alert your bank to any suspicious activity.

Nigeria is on an active drive to become a cash-less society, and as such, more and more hotels, restaurant and shops (all the bigger ones at least) accept major credit cards (Visa being the preferred one - but ask first, there is both "local Visa" and "international Visa" - and MasterCard). Diners Club and Amex are almost universally useless in Nigeria. When paying by card, take the usual precautions (watch how they swipe, don't let the card out of your sight, etc.)

It is advisable that you know where to buy things in advance of your going out. This can save you unnecessary exposure to touts. Nigerian Yellow Pages provides list of businesses, contact addresses and phone numbers and for shops and restaurants, your hotel can give you advise as well. When meeting businesses, the best thing to do is to locate the business, call their representative, who can give you detailed information on how to locate them.

Bargaining

At markets, you are supposed to haggle for your goods (a notable exception is bread: its price is fixed). As a general rule, the real price is about half the price that was first asked. The seller may exaggerate the price when he or she thinks that you are a rich tourist ignorant of the real price. After agreeing on a price, don't walk away without buying, this is considered very rude.

Shops like supermarket and restaurants will typically charge fixed prices. Fresh products and Western-style sit-in restaurants are quite expensive, with it not being uncommon to pay US$75 for a dinner per person.

Eat

There are many types of traditional cuisine to enjoy. For example: afang soup, okra soup, owo soup and starch in the Niger Delta, plantain (fried, boiled, roasted), pepper soup, amala, eba, efo, pounded yam (iyan - Yoruba for "pounded yam" pronounce " ee-yarn" ), jollof rice, ground nut soup, ogbono soup, isi ewu (goat's head stew), egusi soup, suya (kebab), moin moin, ewedu, gbegiri soup (beans soup), edikangikong, ground-rice, puff-puff, chin chin, ikokore, owerri soup (ofe owerri), which is the most expensive African soup in Nigeria. Not to forget 404 pepper soup - it will make you act like "Oliver Twist." You must realise that 404 means "dog meat." and yes, it can only be found in certain parts of the country because in the west it is seen a barbaric.

For the less adventurous traveller, there are loads of "foreign" restaurants in Lagos, e.g. Sky Bar and the grill at Eco Hotel, Churasco's, Lagoon and Fusion all three next to each other (all-you-can-eat Brazilian grill, Indian and Sushi respectively) with a nice view of the lagoon, Piccolo Mondo, Manuella's Residence (great Italian Pizza from Manuella the Italian lady), Bungalow (close to Coschari's BMW in VI) - good sports bar, grill and Sushi, great Sunday buffet at Radisson Blu. Chocolate Royal is a nice family restaurant with excellent ice cream selection (including ice cream cakes) and pastries in VI. Inside Chocolate Royal is an Oriental restaurant called Métisse. Bottles in VI is a grill and Mexican restaurant. And there are loads more flavours from every corner of the world. Just Google and ask taxi to take you there. Outside Lagos and to a lesser extent Abuja, Western food will tend to disappear, with "Jollof Rice and friend chicken" being a "safe" option if you are not adventurous.

Foreign restaurants are expensive and you can prepare for a bill of at least $50 to $75 or even $100 per head for main course, ice cream and one drink per person. If this is too much, try the Syrian Club in Ikoyi (turn North - away from the water) at the Mobil filling station in Awolowo Road (the night club street) in Ikoyi, continue a few blocks and on your left you will see the Syrian mosque, turn in the gate just after the mosque and the Syrian Club will be on your right on the inside of the premises with nice Lebanese/Syrian flair at very affordable (for Lagos) prices in an outdoor setting.

If you are a new expat living in Lagos, do yourself a favour and acquaint yourself early on with the following more expensive, foreign owned, but well worth-it, smaller specialist shops in VI selling all the delicacies and nice imported red meats that foreigners long for in and that Shoprite, Park and Shop and Goodie's (the main supermarkets) may not stock: 1. Deli's on Akin Adesola (the main road leading to Bar Beach), 2. L'Epicérie across the road from Mega Plaza and 3. La Pointe on Kofo Abayomi Street (close to the Brazilian Embassy/Consulate) and not easy to spot. Knowing these places will significantly improve your coping ability in the first couple of months.

Drink

  • Nigeria is one of the places where Guinness is brewed outside of Ireland. And they do it pretty well, although it's not the same product. The Guinness brand (with logo and copyrights where they should be) is also used to brew both an alcohol-free malt version of the black stuff, and an extra strong (about 7.5%) version of Guinness in Kenya (in the case of the latter) and Tanzania (in the case of the former).
  • Beer is actually big business in Nigeria, although the move toward evangelism and Islamic law is making its mark. Lagos is relatively unaffected due to its cosmopolitan nature. Heineken, Star, Harp, Gulder and other international beers are available.
  • Malt beverages (non alcoholic) are very common in Nigeria.
  • The other cheap drink of choice is gin, which is locally made. Some locals will swear to it making their step uncle's dog blind, though, so be careful.
  • Never drink the water sold in plastic bags. It probably hasn't been boiled, and may carry some nasty diseases. The bottled water and other soft drinks are safe.

Other drinks to consider include: palm wine, wine, zobo (red soft drink, is a tea of dried roselle flowers), kunun, kai kai (also called ogogoro).

The northern states have implemented Sharia (Islamic) law, which means that alcohol is prohibited. Ironically, the only places where you can drink a beer in these states are the police staff bars and the army barracks, because these are institutions under federal law. Beer is available in Kano, in restaurants managed by foreign or Christian people, Chinese restaurants, and/or French cafes.

For a real night out, go to the Sabongari area of the old town. Plenty of bars around that stay open till very late. Many do decent food as well. Sabongari is also the place to buy alcoholic drinks and there are plenty stores open late into the night. Some hotels in Kano are "dry", however in Tahir Guest Palace the staff will be quite happy to buy you a few bottles of beer for you in your room (all rooms have large fridges).

Sleep

  • The Transcorp Hilton in Abuja is 5-star and a top ranked hotel in Nigeria. It's comparable to nice hotels in other developing countries, although below the standard of European or North American four- or five-star hotels. However, if you decide to visit the hotel bar, be warned that the single women who seem so interested in you are almost certainly "working." This is true of many hotels that cater to international clients.
  • In Port Harcourt, the Meridian is quite decent. It's a tad bit expensive but your money's worth is guaranteed.
  • In Lagos, the Sheraton Hotel and the Kuramo Lodge on Victoria Island are ranked 4 star. You can also try the Eko Hotel & Suites adjacent to Kuramo Lodge. It's definitely a favourite for tourists and foreigners.
  • In Kano, you can have an aircond room in Tahir Guest Palace, Prince hotel, or one of many small hotels. The Green Palace Hotel in Kano is awesome. It is roomy, not as isolated as the Prince, and just has a pleasant ambience.

Education

There are lots of private and public primary (elementary) and secondary (high) schools. It is worth it to organize a trip to whatever institution of learning you are interested in as this would give you a personal perspective on what facilities are available in your school of interest. There is a nationwide, standardized common entrance exam for students wishing to go into secondary schools, after they have completed their primary schooling. To gain admission into the universities (both public and private universities are in every state of the federation including the FCT), a prospective student has to sit for and successfully pass the UME (Universities Matriculation Examination) which is administered by JAMB (Joint Admission and Matriculation Board). Also individual universities regularly screen prospective candidates to make sure they are up to par for university level work.

Work

Working in Nigeria can be a very positive experience. Nigerian organizations tend to operate like small families, taking in newcomers with open arms and avoiding the coolness and sterility that often characterize the Western professional work environment. For instance, don't even think about coming into the office in the morning without greeting each of your colleagues. Even if you don't, be sure that they will go out of their way to greet you and inquire about your well-being.

It is hard to make generalizations about a country with 140 million inhabitants, but some Nigerians have a work ethic that would put most Westerners to shame. An eight-hour day (not including lunch) seems to be the norm, though it's not uncommon for people to stay late into the night and even come in for a few hours on weekends. Depending on the organization, a foreigner may be able to avoid this, but one should be prepared to work beyond the standard 35-40 hr work week.

The notion of "African time" applies very much to the work environment in Nigeria. Meetings are regularly held later than scheduled and often take longer than necessary. Although Nigerians will unabashedly admit to their habitual tardiness, rarely does one see efforts to correct this behavior. The higher ones position, the later one may arrive at a meeting. On top of that, starting the meeting before the important people arrive is very rude--a common principle shared with many Western countries. When dealing with foreign organizations, Nigerians will often make some efforts to correct this behaviour, for some Nigerians are aware that their conception of punctuality is not shared by all.

Those who are used to the strict North American conception of political correctness at the office may be shocked by the more liberal inter-sexual relations in the Nigerian workplace. Mild sexual jokes are common in meetings and in the office in general, though usually good natured and harmless. A white person working in an all-Nigerian workplace should also be prepared to frequently be reminded of their skin tone, though never in a nasty way. This can become tiresome, but Nigerians are generally very friendly. They use the term "Oyibo" (white man in Yoruba) or "Bature" (white man in Hausa) as a form of affection.

The use of professional titles in written and verbal form is very common in Nigeria. Expect to address your boss as Sir, Doctor, Colonel, etc., and avoid using the first name of a superior unless given permission to do so. Being a foreigner, you will be forgiven for any faux pas, but it is always best to err on the side of caution and politeness.

The mobile phone (cell phone) is an essential tool for virtually all urban - and most rural - Nigerians. Because of the instability of local networks, many people have two or even three "handsets", each on a different network. Anyone doing business in the country for more than a few days should consider having a mobile phone.

Stay safe

Nigeria is a fairly dangerous destination. Crime levels are high, particularly in Lagos. The north eastern regions of Nigeria is troubled by the Boko Haram jihadist group which is known for its attacks on non-Muslims and taking the law into their own hands. This Islamist group is also known for its harsh interpretation of sharia law which includes flogging. Boko Haram attacks Christians and proselytizers so avoid large groups due to church bombings.

The Niger delta area is unsafe for tourists. There is continual low-level violence between government and militant groups, and there have been several kidnappings of foreign oil workers. Another radical Islamist group is Ansar Muslimeen fi Biladi Sudan which translates as "Protection of Muslims in Black Lands". Boko Haram members usually travel on motorbikes.

The waters outside Nigeria are among the most likely places to be attacked by modern day pirates.

LGBT travellers

Homosexual sex acts are illegal. LGBT travellers should take extra caution when travelling to Nigeria, especially in the North, where sharia law implementation can be strict. Both gays and lesbians can be executed, but are more likely to be imprisoned. In fact, a law that has been wildly popular among Muslim and Christian Nigerians alike has made it a crime to know that someone is homosexual and not report it to the authorities.

Stay healthy

As is expected all around the world, do not risk unprotected sex with strangers or even with the person you think you know. Travellers to Nigeria are also required to vaccinate themselves against yellow fever, preferably 10 days before arrival in Nigeria. As malaria is prevalent, malaria pills and mosquito nets are also recommended. Polio vaccination in Nigeria is intermittent and there is a high rate of infection in the north of the country.

Swan water is the safe drinking water to look for approx ?80 for a big bottle. The cheap "pure water" sold in plastic bags is cheaper but not as "pure" as Eva water, a brand by Coca Cola Company, or Nestle water by Nestle Nigeria. It is also of extreme importance not to buy water outside good-looking shops.

It is advisable to purchase bottled water from convenience stores rather than by the roadside. These upscale convenience stores usually purchase their supplies directly from the suppliers, along with soft drinks such as Coca Cola and other bottled beverage products.

For the latest traveller's health information pertaining to Nigeria, including advisories and recommendations, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Nigeria destination website.

Respect

If you are speaking the language, some of the languages have different ways for someone to address someone older than themselves. You do not hand things over to people, especially adults and people older than you, with your left hand. It's considered an insult.

You don't cross or jump over someone's legs if they are sitting with the legs extended out. It's considered bad luck.

Avoid shaking hands with elders and older people in non Igbo villages. It's disrespectful to do that. Can you bow down a little? Kneeling or genuflecting for women or prostrating by men (especially among the Yoruba) is the normal thing to do. You may not need to do it either, but just show some form of respect when greeting older people. You can get away with not doing that in big cities or urban areas, they are less traditional there.

When entering a house in the predominantly Muslim North, you have to let them know in advance that you are visiting so that the women can prepare (cover themselves up). Some Islamic customs require women to cover their hair and bodies to other men and this is practiced in the North. Knock on the door and wait to be answered before going in. They will ask you to wait while the women are informed. Do not be offended by the wait.

Connect

The country code for Nigeria is 234.

Dialing out from Nigeria: you will need to dial +9 (followed by the) International Code (followed by the) phone digit numbers.

Dialing into Nigeria: callers use +234 (followed by the) phone digit numbers. There is also a company in Nigeria called Elixir Communication Worldwide that offers mobile phones for the blind and visually challenged. All the mobile operators have a roaming agreement with other mobile operators around the world.

Go next

  • Travel north to Niger, and into the Saharan desert.
  • Travel east to Cameroon, for some mountain climbing.
  • Travel west to Benin, the best way out when travelling to Europe overland.
  • Travel northeast to Chad.

Kate Couch

Last month, I said that my one and only goal was to find an apartment in New York. So did I succeed?

YES! I GOT A PLACE. I saw five apartments in total and fell in love with the second one on sight. The entire process was difficult and nerve-wracking and I think I gained several gray hairs over the course of the process. But I’m so excited to move in this week!

The rest of the month was very quiet — one of the quietest months I’ve had in the past few years. I went on a photo-taking frenzy in Rockport a few days ago because I had almost zero photos to put into this monthly post!

Rockport

Destinations Visited

Reading, Lynn, Newburyport, and Rockport, Massachusetts, USA

New York, New York, USA

Favorite Destinations

New York today, New York tomorrow, New York forever.

Chipped Cup

Highlights

Finding the apartment! I thought apartment-hunting in Boston was difficult; in New York, it’s worse. Tenants in New York have a lot of rights, and for that reason, landlords are very strict in who they allow to live there.

While in Boston a landlord would verify that you have a job and check your credit score, New York landlords do a lot more. Most apartments require you to make an annual salary of 40 times the monthly rent. (That works out to one third of what you make.) And when you’re self-employed, it’s even more complicated and requires years of past tax returns and several bank statements.

But I did my research, searched hard, and it worked! I’m moving to Hamilton Heights, Harlem! A lot of my friends were shocked to hear this; in fact, I was dead set on moving to Brooklyn until recently!

I’ll be writing about my decision to choose Harlem over Brooklyn later on, as it’s a huge topic that deserves a full post. The main reason? My biggest priority was to live alone in a really nice apartment.

While I looked all over Brooklyn, Hamilton Heights has much better value for money. Most rentals here are newly renovated and in excellent condition. Transportation is outstanding. On top of that, rents are lower than most decent Brooklyn neighborhoods, even lower than cheaper neighborhoods like Bushwick, Crown Heights, and Bed-Stuy.

How good is the transit? My sister commutes about 100 blocks from Hamilton Heights to midtown and it literally takes her TWO STOPS on the subway. How crazy is that?!

I like Hamilton Heights a lot, and I’ve spent a lot of time here, as my sister has lived here for the past few years. It’s convenient to several subway lines, the architecture is beautiful, and there are lots of cool bars and restaurants. I’ve walked alone at night here quite often and I feel very safe here. It feels like a comfortable, lived-in neighborhood.

The moment I walked into my apartment, I knew it was the one. It just felt so warm. It’s a roomy one-bedroom apartment in a beautiful, well-maintained brownstone on a gorgeous block. It’s actually the entire second floor of the building (!!).

The living room is big enough for a dining table and a desk as well as a couch. The kitchen is separate and has more counter space than any other unit I saw. The bedroom is on the small side, but it fits a queen bed and has tons of storage shelving built in. There’s a long, gallery-style hallway leading to the bathroom.

Best of all…I have an in-unit washer/dryer. That is the HOLY GRAIL in New York City!

Location-wise, the apartment is within four blocks of all the subways (1, A, B, C, D), multiple grocery stores, my sister’s place, a coworking space, some great bars and restaurants, my favorite coffeeshop in the neighborhood, and more! Walk a few more blocks and you’ll hit multiple gyms and a yoga studio with $5 classes.

So you could say that I chose the neighborhood with my head and the apartment with my heart.

Kim, Kate and Caroline in NYC

While I was too busy waiting to hear from brokers to hit up the New York Times Travel Show, I did make it to one of the post-show parties and got to hang out with lots of my blogger buddies! I always relish every chance to see my friends and it’s been a while since I’ve been at a big blogger event.

Oh, and while apartment-hunting, an adorable little man, the super of one building, asked me if I was a Columbia student. I patted his shoulder. “Sir, you flatter me. I’m neither that young nor that smart!”

Furnishing and decorating! OH MY GOD, YOU GUYS, THIS IS SO MUCH FUN. I’ve always loved art and design and I’m so happy that I finally get to design a place for myself!

You know, I actually never really furnished my post-college apartments in Somerville and Boston. I hung up my diploma — that was it. I knew from the beginning that my dream was to travel the world, and I couldn’t justify spending on money on something I’d be putting into storage before long.

Now, it’s finally time.

Kate, Lisa and Alexa in Rockport

My friends sent me off in style. Lisa and Alexa insisted on giving me a special going-away-day from Massachusetts, and we spent it day-tripping to Rockport, a little seaside town on the North Shore.

Rockport used to be a tiny fishing village; today, it’s popular with artists. It was actually the filming location for the Alaska scenes in the movie The Proposal. The only issue? Most of Rockport shuts down in the winter months! Definitely go in the summer.

We finished at home with a bottle of champagne and an HGTV marathon. I couldn’t have asked for a better day.

Rockport Bearskin Neck

Challenges

You don’t want to know how much money I spent this month. Moving is expensive, New York is expensive, furnishing a place from scratch is expensive…

Also, I’m growing my eyebrows out. I used to have much thicker, darker brows when I was younger (even when I was in my early twenties) so I’m experimenting to see if I can grow them back. It’s not a great look so far — pretty much the only thing more awkward than growing out your bangs.

SNOW! COLD! It’s hard enough living in the suburbs without a car of your own. Add freezing cold weather and snow and it’s no surprise I became a virtual hermit this month.

Other than these little peccadilloes, it was an easy January, and for that I am grateful.

Rockport

Most Popular Post

How to Arrive in Bangkok — Wow, this post did well! I love writing in-depth posts for the cities I know best.

Oysters at the Grog

Other Posts

Kate’s Picks: Where to Go in 2016 Before It’s Too Late — Japan for the exchange rate, Nicaragua before the canal is built, and Jordan to expand your friends’ horizons.

Scenes from England’s Lake District — One of the most beautiful places I’ve been in the UK.

Quit Fucking Around and Build Yourself a Fuck-Off Fund — This post was HUGE! And a very important message.

The Ultimate Girls’ Getaway to Koh Lanta, Thailand — My favorite place in the world. My third trip was my favorite.

Make This The Year You Start Your Own Business — Literally the only way you can have job security.

Seven Quirky Travel Accessories For Your Future Home — Some of my favorite new finds from Airportag.

Rockport

News and Announcements

Not a lot of big news to report. January’s challenge was to find and furnish a place, something that I’ve achieved for the most part.

But for February? Hmm.

Then I got an idea. We’re in a leap year — why not do something with the number 29?

So I decided — 29 days, 29 friends! I want to spend time with 29 different friends over the course of the month. Not necessarily new friends (though meeting new friends would be AWESOME!) — I want this specific challenge to be about reconnecting with the friends I already have.

And to add to the list, I want five of those friends to be people I haven’t seen in at least five years. I have a few in mind already.

So if you’re in New York and we know each other, drop me a line! Let’s hang out soon.

Castlerigg Sunset

Most Popular Photo on Instagram

Everyone loves a glorious sunset. I’ll never forget this sunset at Castlerigg Stone Circle in the Lake District of England!

Rockport

What I Read This Month

I read a piece on XOJane that suggested completing an author in 2016. What a great idea — you read all the works by an author you love (or at least everything you can find!).

I had already planned on completing Junot Diaz this year, but I could easily do Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Elizabeth Gilbert, Toni Morrison, or Barbara Kingsolver. As much as I adore Lionel Shriver, her books take a lot out of me (in a good way) and they’re best spaced out over a long time.

But a suggestion for you? Steve Martin. Yes, that Steve Martin. His books are magnificent and very different from what you think they would be. My favorite is Born Standing Up; I also love Shopgirl, The Pleasure of My Company and An Object of Beauty.

Here’s what I read this month:

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace by Jeff Hobbs — This book is going to stay with me for a LONG time. Robert Peace grew up in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Newark. He was brilliant and hardworking, earning a scholarship to Yale. After Yale, he traveled the world, then returned to selling drugs in his old neighborhood and was murdered.

How could this happen? How could this be prevented? I can’t stop thinking about these questions. What if he had had a mentor? What if he hadn’t been so loyal to his friends and family above all other things? This book was tremendously eye-opening when it comes to race and especially class in America, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates — This is one of the biggest books on race in America. Written as a series of letters to his son on what it means to be black in America today, Coates weaves through the history of his life from Baltimore to “The Mecca” (Howard University) to New York, Paris, and beyond.

This book was more of a challenge than I anticipated — it’s dense, it’s difficult, it’s beautiful and not a single word is wasted. As racial violence grips America, I’m trying to read more so that I understand more (not least because I’m moving to a historically black neighborhood). This book isn’t the easiest read, but I feel like it should be required reading for Americans, especially in an election year.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — This Kindle short is based off Adichie’s TED Talk on contemporary feminism in Nigeria and beyond. So it’s a quickie read — and I’m not sure if I’m being dishonest by including it in my book round-up here! It’s an argument for why feminism needs to be taken seriously and appreciated by all citizens of the world — but she delivers it in the most delightful, charming way. Definitely worth a read.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling — I like Mindy Kaling a lot and I really enjoyed her first memoir. Like the Fey/Poehler/Dratch memoirs, she has great things to say about working hard in a female where women struggle to be acknowledged (not to mention women of color). But I think Kaling’s biggest strengths are when she writes about feeling like an outsider and faking it until you make it.

Anyway, I’m hoping that if we meet, we’d be friends. Her high school was actually one of my high school’s rivals. I’d love to tell her stories about the freaky incest-space-shadow-baby plays her high school would present at Dramafest.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert — I adore Liz Gilbert and will read anything she writes. This book isn’t quite a self-help book, nor is it quite a memoir — it’s a guide on how to bring more creativity into your life and how best to use it. It’s a quicker read than I expected, and I absolutely loved it. I feel like I have a whole new way of seeing things, both the creative work I do for my career and the creative work I do for myself. Definitely worth a read, and Gilbert is one of my favorite literary voices.

What I Watched This Month

Mozart in the Jungle. I put it on after it won a few Golden Globes and I ended up binge-watching all 20 episodes over three sessions! It’s a show about the secret lives of the best classical musicians in New York. It’s a bit soapy, a bit funny, and an interesting look at the life of a professional classical musician.

If you are a creative or work in the arts, you need to see this show. Seriously. More than anything, it’s about the relationship between art and money. And if you’re a musician, especially a classical musician, you’ll love it, too. It reminded me of my nights partying, skinny-dipping, and drinking with the musicians in Kuhmo, Finland, before watching them perform Bach and Sibelius the next day!

What I Listened To This Month

“Lazarus” by David Bowie.

As usual, I woke up, grabbed my phone, and opened Facebook. My stomach tightened when I saw that David Bowie was trending. I knew he’d been ill with heart problems and living out of the public eye for awhile. Had he left us?

And the first thing I saw was this video, which I watched immediately.

I was overcome.

He knew he was dying for a long time. And instead of withdrawing from the world, he chose to create a beautiful final collection of music, as unique as his material had always been.

I thought I would listen to this song once, be sad, and turn to my usual favorite Bowie songs, “Young Americans” and “Modern Love” and “Golden Years.” But I kept listening to “Lazarus” and marveling at how bravely and beautifully Bowie decided to leave this world.

RIP.

Snowy Harlem via Instagram

Coming Up in February 2016

Moving day is February 3! My dad is driving me down and helping me move in my belongings. Furniture will be arriving over the next few weeks. Let’s just hope the weather doesn’t look like that above photo!

I won’t be traveling anywhere in February (other than home to Boston for a bachelorette party two days after I move, amusingly enough), but I’m making BIG plans for the spring and summer. I’m also arranging lots of meetings with my New York-based travel contacts so we can put some cool trips together.

Guys, the travel tingles are returning. That makes me SO HAPPY. Last week I got an idea for a trip and I researched and planned it maniacally, my heart racing, until I realized it was 3:30 AM and I should probably go to sleep.

That trip might end up happening — or it might not. We’ll see. The important thing is my mojo is sloooowly coming back. For awhile I was afraid that I had lost it after pushing myself too hard for too long.

It’s still there. And it’s raring to go.

One last thing — I am deeply grateful to have what I have today. Five years ago, my dream was to earn $1,000 per month from my blog so I could afford to live in Southeast Asia. That dream obviously grew and changed over time as I grew and changed as a person.

To be at the point where I can live on my own in Manhattan — and still travel — is something that I didn’t think would be possible a few years ago. I’ve worked so hard for this but I’ve also had a fair amount of luck, not to mention privilege. I won’t ever forget that, and I’m enormously grateful to all of you who continue to read my material and allow me to remain a full-time blogger.

What are your plans for February? Share away!

The single story about Africa

Photo by Tanja Heffner

In her famous TED talk, Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie warned viewers of “The Danger of a Single Story.” She tells a poignant story of her experience living with her American college roommate in the United States to illustrate her point:

“My roommate had a single story of Africa. A single story of catastrophe. In this single story there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her, in any way. No possibility of feelings more complex than pity. No possibility of a connection as human equals.[…] If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves, and waiting to be saved, by a kind, white foreigner… The single story creates stereotypes and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.”

How can you make sure that you too don’t get trapped in a single story of Africa? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Understand the geography of the African continent.

Africa is bigger than the United States, China, India and all of Europe combined. And yet too often, a negative news story about simply one of Africa’s fifty-four countries ends up negatively affecting the whole continent. For example, a BBC article reported that when the Ebola epidemic hit Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea, even countries in sub-Saharan Africa lost tourist revenue: advance bookings for 2015 in Tanzania were 50% lower. Tourists couldn’t understand that cities like Rome and Madrid were closer to the center of the of Ebola outbreak than Tanzania was. Instead they simply assumed that any country in Africa was automatically more dangerous.

2. Acknowledge the successes on the continent, instead of single-mindedly focusing on the negative.

It’s way too simplistic to focus only on the bad news coming out of Africa, particularly when there are plenty of things Africa does better than the States: According to data by the World Bank, Rwanda leads the world in female representation in their government (64% of their government officials are female. In the United States, that number is 18%). Unlike the United States, African countries offer paid maternal leave. Countries like the Central African Republic, Chad, Namibia all also have higher voter turnout rates than we do.

3. Read and watch Western portrayals of the Africa with a critical eye.

As Courtney Martin wrote, “single stories are born, not just from inadequately seeing real people (although that is sometimes the case), but inadequately writing real people — creating caricatures rather than characters.” This happens too often when Westerners attempt to portray African people in their art.

Check out this viral Youtube video made by an organization called Mama Hope, which points out the various stereotypes African men are tired of seeing in Hollywood movies. And check out Binyavanga Wainaina’s video instructing Westerners “How not to write about Africa”:

Keep these videos and idea in mind anytime you’re reading books or watching movies about the continent and its people.

4. Diversify your news sources.

In 2013, the #SomeoneTellCNN controversy in Kenya showed how Western new outlets reporting on Africa can often get the story wrong. Journalists get lazy and write pieces that don’t give the story the actual nuance (or even accuracy) it deserves.

To make sure you’re getting the full context of a story, check out news outlets that actually feature African journalists on the ground. Here are a few:

  • Africa is a Country — This was founded by Sean Jacobs in 2009 and aimed to “challenge the received wisdom about Africa from a left perspective, informed by his experiences of resistance movements to Apartheid.”
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  • Africa Check — This non-profit organization was created in 2012 to “promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa” and “raise the quality of information available to society across the continent.”
  •  

  • Okay Africa — This website reports on African youth culture and art, and aims to fill “a much needed gap in representations of Africa by presenting a forward-thinking, nuanced view of Africa today.”
  • Photo: M01229

    First, highlights from International Women’s Day

    The four women who organized the historic Jan. 21st Women’s March on Washington were arrested in New York at a Day Without A Woman rally. Along with several other protesters, they were seized not far from Trump Hotel near Columbus Circle after sitting peacefully in the street and causing a disruption in traffic. The 13 women were released Wednesday night, claiming that they had spent their detainment singing gospel songs like “We Shall Overcome” through the halls of the NYPD’s 7th precinct. [TIME]

    Some of us have been arrested #DayWithoutAWoman pic.twitter.com/WSYVdrQjxA

    — Women's March (@womensmarch) March 8, 2017

    Massive demonstrations happened around the world yesterday. The activists numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Besides the United States, rallies happened in Nigeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, Macedonia and Pakistan. TIME put together a round-up video, which you can view here.

    A congressman from Missouri is concerned that women are paying a tax on tanning. Rep. Jason Smith claimed that under Obamacare women are required to pay taxes on their tanning salon visits. He wondered aloud: why, on International Women’s Day especially, was he the only one bringing this up? A congresswoman from Washington, Rep. Suzan Delbene, suggested that it may be because healthcare is a more pressing issue for American women today. [Huffington Post]

    Respecting our environment

    There’s a ‘super bloom’ happening in California right now. Specifically in Southern California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park where desert lilies, poppies, dune primrose, sunflowers, desert dandelions and other wildflowers are all blooming in unison. California received a lot of rain this winter which should make the super bloom’s climax even more vibrant. [CNN]

    A post shared by J and S, and Hudson Dog! (@we_lexplore) on Mar 9, 2017 at 8:01am PST

    China is emerging as a leader in addressing climate change. China canceled 104 coal-fired plants back in 2014 and in 2016, experienced a 4.7 percent drop in coal consumption as a result. The country is energetically onboard with the Paris Agreement and has begun a $474 billion renewable energy program — a majority of the program’s budget will go into renewable fuel by 2020. [Futurism] Read more like this: The protests that changed us

    Visiting a developing country can provide some of the most authentic cultural experiences and human interactions on the planet. But it also can pose challenges, especially to those unaccustomed to the rigors of traipsing through countries with modest economies, or widespread poverty, or few tourism facilities. Or all of the above.

    uganda africa country road

    More so than travel through Western nations with well-established tourism infrastructure, visiting developing countries requires flexibility, diplomacy and patience -- and the keen ability to shelve preconceived notions about a place.

    We queried three frequent travelers to developing countries to cull their best tips.

    1. Do your research.

    Online and print guidebooks are, of course, useful for researching a destination before traveling, but the information can be out of date. This is especially true for guidebooks that may not be big sellers and thus are not updated with regular frequency; developing countries often fall into that category.

    As soon as she knows she is going overseas, Brittany G. Lane of Washington D.C. says she sets up a Google Alert for the country she's visiting. "Two days before I went to Tunisia there were major protests. The U.S. media hadn't reported on it yet, but Google Alerts picked up French and British news reports that were useful for me to read," said Lane, a research associate for The Urban Institute, which works on local governance issues in developing countries.

    Message boards, such as Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum or the TripAdvisor forums, are excellent spots to seek out advice from seasoned travelers to your destination. Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are also good places to survey other travelers.

    10 Hardcore Tips for Frequent Travelers

    2. Learn to communicate in the local language.

    Before you visit any country, you should learn a few basic expressions in the local language. This especially holds true in nations where English may not be taught in schools nor widely spoken. Yes, you should learn the basics -- "hello," "please," "thank you," "can you help me?" -- but also try to learn even more. Not only will this help you navigate better, but you'll also help create goodwill along the way.

    3. Study local traditions and taboos.

    Study them before you depart using resources such as CultureCrossing.net, a compendium of social customs around the world, and ViewChange.org, where videos from developing countries offer a glance at everyday life. But also "spend the first couple of days just observing," Lane said. Before her trip through North Africa, Lane said she received conflicting advice about whether to wear a head covering. After a few days in-country, the answer became clear. (Not necessary in most places.)

    4. Constantly assess risks.

    What do you do if a local family invites you into their home for a meal and it's difficult to decline their offerings? "You have to assess the risk and decide if getting sick is worth it," said Michael McColl, director of communications for Ethical Traveler, a San Francisco-based nonprofit.

    Emily Sollie is the director of communication for Lutheran Relief Services in Baltimore and a frequent traveler to such countries as Haiti, India, Mali and Nicaragua. She recalls being welcomed to a rural village in Nicaragua by a group of poor women who offered her and fellow travelers homemade salads. Generally, it's not a good idea to eat raw vegetables in countries where the quality of the local water could be questionable.

    "They were lovely looking and we wanted to eat them, but we had to turn them down," Sollie said. "We were gracious, but it was still awkward."

    Traveling through a developing country will likely involve such risk assessment on a daily basis -- and not just about food. Is it safe to walk alone at night? Is that hotel clean and secure? Are you at risk of getting robbed on that train?

    Money Safety Tips for Travelers

    5. Choose transportation wisely.

    Speaking of transportation ... developing countries may have their own modes of transport, but not all of them follow rigorous safety standards. If you aren't able to fly aboard an internationally recognized major airline, for instance, be sure you seek out info on a local airline's safety records. Same goes for trains and buses.

    Input the company's name and the term "safety record" or "crash" into an online search. That's how Lane learned of a June 2012 Dana Air accident in Nigeria that killed all passengers as well as 10 people on the ground due to a suspected dual engine failure. "I had the choice recently to fly through Nigeria on that airline, and I chose not to," she explained.

    6. Avoid giving to money to strangers.

    It's one of the most heart-wrenching aspects of travel: someone obviously in more need than you asking for money.

    "Begging is not natural behavior for most cultures," said McColl, who has visited more than 50 countries. "They probably learned it from other travelers before you -- travelers who were not thinking through and taking responsibility for their actions."

    Better than giving the person in need a few coins from your pocket, McColl said, is to help those in need through a community organization, such as a local nonprofit, church or school. Seek out a respected local leader, and ask about a community initiative that feels like a nice fit for you. Alternately, you could research an organization once you get back home, or support a nonprofit organization that serves the community you visited.

    child begging in cambodia

    7. Don't give handouts to children.

    Similarly, avoid giving items to children, no matter how tempting it may be, McColl recommends. "It could condition them to do it again, perhaps becoming more aggressive in doing so in the future," he explained.

    You could avoid such potential negative impact by instead giving the item to the parents, a teacher or other community leader, McColl recommends. School supplies are always welcomed -- much more so than candy, especially in communities where regular dental care isn't readily available. You could also research in advance the needs of a community -- basic medical supplies or clothing, for instance -- and bring those items.

    12 Ways to Feel at Home in a Foreign Place

    8. Understand the role bribes play in some places.

    In some French-speaking countries in Africa, it's known as a cadeau, or "gift." We might think of it as a bribe, but here's a case where shelving that preconceived notion is imperative. Paying such fees is a reality in many countries, and a few soles or rupees aren't going to break your bank.

    Arguing over paying a so-called bribe could prove to be more trouble than it's worth. "It's not your time to make a stand against the rules of the country," Lane advised.

    That being said, you should know the difference between a small fee and a full-on shakedown. Again, doing your research in advance should help you determine this.

    9. Bargain fairly.

    A lot of countries operate on bargaining, and taxi drivers or street market vendors fully expect you to haggle. Be fair when you do so. Again, a few extra coins aren't going to hurt you, but you also shouldn't walk away from the transaction feeling ripped off. For more haggling help, see Shopping Abroad: A Traveler's Guide and Let's Make a Deal: Haggling Abroad.

    10. Eat and drink cautiously.

    The standard overseas eating and drinking rules apply in developing countries; our article, Food Safety: How to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling, covers the basics. Sollie only drinks water from bottles that are sealed when she herself opens them. Iodine tablets are useful if you need to purify water. (Read Drinking Water Safety for more options.)

    Lane also always totes a stash of protein bars. "I find that I tend to make bad food choices if I'm really hungry," she said. You can stave off that hunger and thus be in a better position to make smart decisions if your stomach isn't growling.

    11. Learn to listen.

    This tip is taken directly from Ethical Traveler, and may very well be the heart of any travel experience. As an article on the group's website says: "Travelers from the USA in particular should be aware that many people -- especially in developing countries -- believe that having the ear of an American is tantamount to having the ear of America. So wherever you're from, listen well -- and with respect -- to all points of view."

    We hear you.

    You May Also Like9 Things to Do When No One Speaks EnglishHow to Be Safe and Culturally Sensitive When You Travel9 Must-Dos Before a Long-Haul FlightGet Our Best Travel Deals and Tips!Write About Your Latest Trip

    --written by Elissa Leibowitz Poma

    Editor's Note: IndependentTraveler.com is published by The Independent Traveler, Inc., a subsidiary of TripAdvisor, Inc.

    Nigeria - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture

    Diane Lemieux

    Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa with an internal market of 150 million people and an economy growing at around 8 percent a year, is potentially Africa’s next powerhouse. It is nearly one and a half times the size of Texas, with a landmass varying from sandy beaches and tropical jungles, to plains, mountains, and desert.   This important West African nation is made up of 250 culturally distinct ethno-linguistic groups. The largest communities are the Hausa in the north, rooted in the Islamic city-states of the famed trans-Saharan trade routes; the Yoruba of the southwest, where ancient kingdoms nurtured some of Africa’s best-known art forms; and the Igbo of the southeast, where decentralized, egalitarian communities have produced many of the country’s most successful traders and businessmen. Nigeria has had a bad press: international reports of violence, corruption, and natural disasters completely overlook the vibrancy and artistic sophistication of its diverse cultural groups, most of whom live peacefully in mixed communities. Although Nigeria is the world’s fifth-largest producer of oil, there is a huge disparity in income. The competition for scarce resources and the country’s dense diversity have fostered ingenuity and perseverance on the part of its ambitious citizens. They are natural entrepreneurs, and intelligent and shrewd negotiators. They are also proud, and sensitive to criticism. Most are devout, gregarious, and hospitable, and disgusted by corruption. Now, in the twelfth consecutive year of democracy after years of military rule, major political and economic reforms are under way. Culture Smart! Nigeria is a unique introduction to life there today. Most of what is written about the country comes from the perspective of one or other tribe. There is nothing quite like this concise description of its major cultural traditions. The people most visitors will meet are well-educated, sophisticated, and well-versed in Western ways. Nonetheless, foreign businesspeople cannot hope to be successful without understanding the ancient and complex systems of behavior, values, and attitudes that underlie the country’s vibrant social and business life.

    Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria

    Noo Saro-Wiwa

    Noo Saro-Wiwa was brought up in England, but every summer she was dragged back to visit her father in Nigeria — a country she viewed as an annoying parallel universe where she had to relinquish all her creature comforts and sense of individuality. After her father, activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, was killed there, she didn’t return for several years. Recently, she decided to come to terms with the country her father given his life for.Saro-Wiwa travels from the exuberant chaos of Lagos to the calm beauty of the eastern mountains; from the eccentricity of a Nigerian dog show to the decrepit kitsch of the Transwonderland Amusement Park. She explores Nigerian Christianity, delves into the country’s history of slavery, examines the corrupting effect of oil, and ponders the huge success of Nollywood.She finds the country as exasperating as ever, and frequently despairs at the corruption and inefficiency she encounters. But she also discovers that it si far more beautiful and varied than she had ever imagined, with its captivating thick tropical rainforest and ancient palaces and monuments. Most engagingly of all, she introduces us to the many people she meets, and gives us hilarious insights into the African character, its passion, wit and ingenuity.

    Nigeria (Bradt Travel Guide)

    Lizzie Williams

    For the adventurous traveler, Nigeria offers the opportunity to see the country in its raw and naked state. The chaos of Lagos often overshadows the rich offerings found elsewhere in Nigeria. Explore further and travelers can bathe in the Wikki Warm Springs at Yankari National Park; trek through Oshogbo Sacred Forest or visit one of the Emir’s elaborately decorated palaces. The only dedicated English-language travel guide to Nigeria on the market, this edition is thoroughly updated with an expanded section on Lagos.

     

    My Nigeria: Five Decades of Independence

    Peter Cunliffe-Jones

    His nineteenth-century cousin, paddled ashore by slaves, twisted the arms of tribal chiefs to sign away their territorial rights in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Sixty years later, his grandfather helped craft Nigeria's constitution and negotiate its independence, the first of its kind in Africa. Four decades later, Peter Cunliffe-Jones arrived as a journalist in the capital, Lagos, just as military rule ended, to face the country his family had a hand in shaping.Part family memoir, part history, My Nigeria is a piercing look at the colonial legacy of an emerging power in Africa. Marshalling his deep knowledge of the nation's economic, political, and historic forces, Cunliffe-Jones surveys its colonial past and explains why British rule led to collapse at independence. He also takes an unflinching look at the complicated country today, from email hoaxes and political corruption to the vast natural resources that make it one of the most powerful African nations; from life in Lagos's virtually unknown and exclusive neighborhoods to the violent conflicts between the numerous tribes that make up this populous African nation. As Nigeria celebrates five decades of independence, this is a timely and personal look at a captivating country that has yet to achieve its great potential.

    Orientation Guide to Nigeria and the Igbo Culture: Religion, Traditions, Family Life, Urban and Rural Populations, Geography, History, Economy, Society and Security

    Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC)

    Igbo is the language spoken by the approximately 18 million people of southeastern Nigeria. Although English is Nigeria’s official language, four indigenous languages serve as official regional or trade languages: Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, and Igbo. Igbo is dominant and the trade language of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states in southeastern Nigeria. Igbo consists of 30 dialects, not all of which are mutually intelligible. The standard literary form of the language is a mixture of two dialects: Owerri (from Imo State) and Umuahia (from Abia State).Previously under British rule, Nigeria gained its independence in 1960, forming a confederation of 36 states and 1 federal territory. Each state is divided into Local Government Areas (LGAs); Nigeria has 774 LGAs. The Igbo practice a traditional polytheistic African religion, though many are Christian.This book, produced by Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (DLIFLC), provides comprehensive information about Nigeria and the Igbo Culture. Chapter topics include religion, traditions, family life and differences in the lifestyles of urban and rural populations as well as detailed discussion of geography, history and their economy, form of government, society and security and much more.70 pages; dozens of photos, illustration and charts in full color.This is a Print Replica that maintains the formatting and layout of the original edition and offers many of the advantages of standard Kindle books.

    Central Nigeria Unmasked: Arts of the Benue River Valley

    Marla C. Berns, Richard Fardon, Sidney Littlefield Kasfir

    Winner of the Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication Award from the Arts Council of the African Studies AssociationThe Benue River Valley is the source of some of the most abstract, dramatic, and inventive sculpture in sub-Saharan Africa. A vast region, the Valley extends from the heart of present-day Nigeria eastward to its border with Cameroon, and is home to a large number of ethnic and linguistic groups, all of whom have produced sculptures that are remarkable for their variety.This book brings together figurative wood sculptures and ceramic vessels, masks, and elaborate bronze and iron regalia drawn from public and private collections in Europe and the United States, selected to exemplify important typologies within the region, along with many historical photographs. The 18 contributors demonstrate that the stylistic tendencies were constantly evolving due to cultural exchanges, mutual influences, and other points of contact in an area that like the Benue River itself was historically in a state of flux. These objects speak to us not only through their superb formal qualities but also through the circumstances of their being rooted in a turbulent past, situated between war and colonization.

    Nigeria: History, Facts and Stories

    Mr. Olatokunbo Akinola Esho

    Nigeria: History, Facts and Stories is a small coffee table book that gives insight about many important Historical facts, people and stories that have helped to shape the Country Nigeria over the last 100 years plus. It is a must read for anyone travelling to Nigeria or anyone who wants to know more about the Country beyond the myths and stories in the media.

    NIGERIA Country Studies: A brief, comprehensive study of Nigeria

    CIA

    A brief yet detailed report on the country of Nigeria with updated information on the map, flag, history, people, economics, political conditions in government, foreign affairs, and U.S. relations.

    AVOID NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL; see also regional advisories.

    The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

    Increased threat of attacks and kidnappings

    In 2013, the French military assisted the Malian government in efforts to repel armed rebels. Terrorist groups in the region declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. While the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali has been supporting the transitional authorities in stabilizing the region since July 2013, citizens of countries supporting the intervention are still at particular risk, but all travellers should exercise increased vigilance in the region.

    Northern states of Borno, Gombe, Yobe, Kano and Kaduna and Middle Belt states of Bauchi and Plateau (see Advisory)

    There is a high threat of domestic terrorism in the northern states of Gombe, Yobe, Borno, Kano, Adamawa and Kaduna, where the extremist group Boko Haram, which often claims responsibility for terrorist attacks, is based. Boko Haram-related attacks have resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries. A state of emergency is in effect in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. Additional security personnel have been deployed to these states. Curfews are in effect for Damaturu metropolis (capital of Yobe State) and the state of Kaduna and are subject to change. You should avoid all travel within and around these areas. Consult the Terrorism section below for more information.

    There is a risk of foreign nationals being kidnapped in some northern states of Nigeria. See the Kidnapping section below.

    The Middle Belt states of Bauchi and Plateau are significantly affected by inter-communal violence. Frequent episodes of violent attacks occur in the city of Jos, located in Plateau State, and the situation remains unstable. Hundreds of people have died in violent clashes. Jos has also been the target of terrorist attacks perpetrated by suicide bombers. There is a state of emergency in the state of Plateau.

    The borders with Niger, Chad and Cameroon could be closed on short notice.

    Niger Delta states (see Advisory)

    The security situation in the Niger Delta region is fragile and unstable, particularly in the states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Abia, Anambra, Rivers (with the exception of Rivers state capital Port Harcourt where we advise against non-essential travel). Regional and ethnic conflicts between militant groups occur in the area, and have led to unrest and violence in the past. Militant activity has also been directed towards foreign interests. Armed groups have carried out successful attacks on oil facilities and workers, resulting in injuries and deaths. Incidents of armed robbery have also increased. Kidnapping occurs in the Niger Delta States. See the Kidnapping section below.

    Piracy is an ongoing threat in the Niger Delta states. Incidents of piracy, including attacks, kidnappings, hostage takings and ship hijackings are very common in this extremely volatile area. You should avoid the riverine and shoreline areas at all times. Insurgents in speedboats and equipped with high-calibre weapons operate along the coastal waters in the region. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

    If you choose to remain in the Niger Delta states despite this warning, you should be extremely vigilant at all times. If travelling for business, ensure that meetings are held at a secure location and that the contact is known to you. Seek the advice of local authorities when planning trips and leave a detailed itinerary with family or friends. Contact the High Commission in Abuja or the Deputy High Commission in Lagos for the latest security information and register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service.

    Abuja, Calabar and Lagos

    You are advised to exercise a high degree of caution in the capital city, Abuja, and in popular locations within close proximity of Abuja such as Bwari and Gurara Falls. You are advised against non-essential travel beyond this area (see Advisory). There is a risk of terrorism and crime in Abuja. After dark, all unnecessary travel should be avoided. An exchange of gunfire took place in the Apo area of Abuja on September 20, 2013. See the Terrorism and Crime sections below.

    You are advised to exercise a high degree of caution in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State, where the security situation is stable and facilities are relatively well developed compared to the rest of the country. You are advised against non-essential travel to the rest of Cross River State.

    You are advised to exercise a high degree of caution in the city of Lagos, specifically within the area covering Ikeja in the north down to Lagos Island, Victoria Island and Ikoyi, and from Mile Two (west end of Lagos) to Chevron Estate on the Lekki Peninsula (east end of Lagos). You are advised against non-essential travel beyond this area (see Advisory). The level of criminality in Lagos is high and incidents of violent crime, including assaults and armed attacks, have occurred against foreign nationals and in areas frequented by foreigners. All unnecessary travel should be avoided after dark.

    If you decide to travel to these cities you should stay in secure, guarded accommodations and maintain a heightened level of personal security awareness at all times. Contact the High Commission in Abuja for advice on taking the necessary security precautions.

    Terrorism

    There is a high threat from domestic terrorism in Nigeria, particularly in some northern and Middle Belt states. Incidents of terrorist attacks, which can involve improvised explosive devices (IED), gun fire and explosions, occur frequently and result in numerous deaths and injuries. Large-scale and small scale bomb attacks have occurred, some coordinated to strike simultaneously in different cities. Targets have included Nigerian government institutions and security facilities, police stations, universities and places of worship. Terrorists have used vehicle borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) to target churches in communities across the country, and inter-religious, retaliatory violence often follows. Attacks may increase during religious holidays.

    Further terrorist attacks could be random and target locations frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers, including government institutions, international organizations, large hotels, bars, markets and shopping centers. In recent years, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has been targeted by terrorists. On August 26, 2011, a large bomb exploded at the United Nations building in Abuja, killing more than 20 people and wounding dozens. Remain highly vigilant and avoid large crowds and gatherings when in public places in Abuja.

    Curfews

    Nigerian authorities have imposed curfews as a means to restore order after violence erupts in volatile areas. Curfews are currently in effect for the cities of Gusau (Zamfara State), Kano (Kano State), Maiduguri (Borno State), Minna (Niger State), Potiskum (Yobe State), and Yola and Mubi (Adamawa State). Canadians in affected areas are urged to limit their essential movements to daylight hours, avoid all public gatherings, keep a supply of basic foods on hand, monitor the security situation and closely follow the advice of local authorities, especially with respect to curfews.

    Kidnapping

    Kidnappings are a particular threat in the Niger Delta region and in southwestern Nigeria, but can occur elsewhere in the country.

    There has been a recent increase of cases of kidnappings for ransom targeting Westerners in the affluent areas of Lagos. Throughout the Niger Delta states, numerous Westerners, mainly oil and gas facility workers, have been abducted, and in some cases, killed. Remain especially vigilant in Warri, Delta State. In Port HarcourtRivers State, you should avoid going to public places frequented by expatriates, including bars and restaurants, and avoid the waterfront at all times. The states of Abia, Anambra and Imo are at risk for kidnappings for ransom as well as violent acts. Recent events have demonstrated that attacks, often perpetrated by small groups of armed individuals, are indiscriminate. Residents and foreigners alike have been abducted and held captive, sometimes for days, until ransom was paid. Deaths have also been reported.

    Incidents of kidnapping have occurred in the northern states of Bauchi, Kwara, Kaduna and Kano.

    Crime

    There is a high level of crime throughout Nigeria, including armed robbery, kidnapping for ransom, and violent assault. Criminal activity remains high in urban areas, including the city of Lagos. Robberies and muggings conducted by large, well-armed groups, in places frequented by expatriates, are common. Some have been committed by persons posing as police or military personnel. Incidents include armed attacks against foreign nationals and assaults in areas frequented by foreigners.

    Use caution when travelling to and from banks and be particularly discreet when using automated banking machines (ABMs).

    Before booking a hotel, ensure that sufficient security measures are in place. Check with local authorities to determine which hotels are safe for foreigners. Stay only at reputable hotels.

    House robberies are on the rise in Abuja, and remain a serious concern in residential areas of Lagos.

    Petty crime is common in crowded places, especially in public markets, as well as popular tourist sites. Should you visit the beach or sign up for a fishing excursion, do so only during daylight and in large groups, particularly those beaches in the vicinity of Victoria Island (Lekki and Bar beaches).

    Incidents of armed robbery and carjacking have occurred along main routes to international and domestic airports. (See the Travel to and from the airport section below).

    Demonstrations

    Avoid demonstrations, protests and large gatherings, as they can turn violent without notice. Strikes may occasionally interfere with land and air transportation.

    Road travel

    Across Nigeria, roads are generally in poor condition and lack adequate lighting. Excessive speeds and unpredictable driving habits pose hazards. All unnecessary road travel should be avoided after dark. Road accidents pose a serious risk and you should exercise great caution, especially when travelling on highways and outside major urban areas.

    Personal security and appropriate journey management should be observed as a very high priority. Road travel can be dangerous due to robberies and carjackings, which sometimes include physical violence. There have been reports of attempted armed robbery on main highways between state capitals. Carjackings have also occurred in main cities, including Lagos and Abuja. Many strategies may be used to stop cars on the road, such as nails being scattered on the road, or individuals, including pregnant women, pretending to be injured.

    Police checkpoints are very frequent on roads throughout the country. Abuse by some law-enforcement officers, armed gangs and others to extort bribes is common. This is a recurring security problem, especially along Nigeria’s borders. If you need assistance, you may contact the High Commission of Canada in Abuja.

    Rental cars are available in Nigeria, but should be avoided. Major hotels and the customer service centres at the airports in LagosAbuja and Kano offer reliable car-hire services complete with drivers.

    Local and public transportation

    Public transportation is not recommended due to the risk of petty theft and armed attacks. Passengers in taxis have been driven to secluded areas where they have been attacked and robbed.  However, if you must use a taxi, verify that nobody is hiding in the trunk before entering the vehicle. Locals have been known to hide in the trunk and then emerge through the back seat to rob the passenger once the taxi is in motion.

    Motorbike taxis, known in Nigeria as “okadas”, are a typical form of public transportation in many cities and are dangerous to motorists, their own passengers and pedestrians. In a number of cities, okada drivers and passengers are required to wear helmets.

    Travel to and from the airport

    Arrange to arrive at the airport during the day and be met there by reliable contacts. Be extremely cautious when travelling to and from the airport. If transportation is not arranged by hosts or the hotel, you are advised to hire cars and drivers from reputable security providers with respect to journey management. Drivers should be experienced, have local knowledge, and be familiar with alternative routes. All arrangements should be made prior to your arrival in Nigeria. When arranging to hire a car and driver, be sure to agree on a price and all details before accepting.

    Incidents of armed robbery and carjacking have occurred along main routes to international and domestic airports. Also, be aware that criminals have posed as bogus greeters at the airport. Several incidents of armed robbery resulting in deaths have occurred at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos.

    Air travel

    See our FAQ on Transportation in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

    During the dry season, the Harmattan wind leads to high amounts of sand and dust in the air. Air travel within Nigeria can sometimes be restricted due to limited visibility. Occasionally, flights must be rerouted from their original destinations.

    Fraud

    Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in this country. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.

    Piracy

    Pirate attacks and armed robbery against ships occur in coastal waters. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.

    General safety information

    Carry photocopies of your official identification at all times and safely store passports, visas and travel documents.

    You should remain discreet; avoid walking alone and displaying any signs of affluence in public. Valuables or bags should not be left unattended.

    Local telecommunications are subject to disruptions. Always carry a mobile phone. There are many mobile phone companies in Nigeria and it is the preferred method of telecommunications.

    The country experiences regular fuel shortages. Monitor local media sources for indicators of the circumstances that precede fuel shortages and ensure that you have adequate supplies on hand.

    Health

    Related Travel Health Notices
    Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
    Vaccines

    Routine Vaccines

    Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

    Vaccines to Consider

    You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

    Hepatitis A

    Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

    Hepatitis B

    Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

    Influenza

    Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

    Measles

    Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
     

    Meningitis

    This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease (meningitis) is a serious and sometimes fatal infection of the tissue around the brain and the spinal cord. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers), those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings, or those travelling for a longer period of time.

    Polio

    There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.

    Rabies

    Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

    Typhoid

    Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

    Yellow Fever Vaccination

    Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

    Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

    * It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
    Risk
    • There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
    Country Entry Requirement*
    • Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
    Recommendation
    • Vaccination is recommended.
    • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
    Food/Water

    Food and Water-borne Diseases

    Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

    In some areas in West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

    Cholera

    There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.

    Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.

    Schistosomiasis

    Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

    Travellers' diarrhea
    • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
    • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
    • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

    Insects

    Insects and Illness

    In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley feverWest Nile virus and yellow fever.

    Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

    Dengue fever
    • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
    • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.
    Onchoceriasis

    Onchocerciasis (river blindness) is an eye and skin disease caused by a parasite spread through the bite of an infected female blackfly.  Onchocerciasis often leads to blindness if left untreated. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from blackfly bites, which are most common during the daytime and close to running water. There is no vaccine available for onchocerciasis although drug treatments exist.


    Malaria

    Malaria

    • There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
    • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
    • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
    • See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.

    Animals

    Animals and Illness

    Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.

    Avian Influenza

    There have been human cases of avian influenza ("bird flu”) in this country. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread by contact with infected birds or surfaces and objects contaminated by their feces or other secretions.

    Avoid unnecessary contact with domestic poultry and wild birds as well as surfaces contaminated with their feces or other secretions. Ensure all poultry dishes and eggs are thoroughly cooked.


    Person-to-Person

    Person-to-Person Infections

    Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

    Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

    HIV

    HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

    Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

    Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.

    Tuberculosis

    Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

    For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

    Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

    High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


    Medical services and facilities

    Medical services and facilities

    Medical facilities and care are basic in major cities and limited outside urban centres. Due to the high incidence of fake medications, prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs, you should not purchase drugs in Nigeria unless from a well-known, reputable supplier.

     

     

    Keep in Mind...

    The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

    Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

    You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

    Restricted and illegal activities

    The use of illicit drugs is prohibited.

    Cross-dressing is prohibited and punishable under the Prostitution and Immoral Acts Law.

    In Abuja, smoking is banned in public places.

    Homosexual activity is illegal. Since January 2014, convicted offenders can face up to 14 years in prison. Any person who “registers, operates or participates in gay clubs, societies or organisations” or anyone who makes “a public display of same sex amorous relationship” may face a prison sentence of up to 10 years.  Furthermore, anyone who witnesses or abets any of these acts is also liable to a 10 year sentence. In certain northern states, where Sharia law is applied, penalties can include the death sentence.

    It is illegal to import beer, mineral water, soft drinks, sparkling wine, fruits, vegetables, cereals, eggs, fabrics, mosquito netting, jewellery and precious metals. It is illegal to export pieces of African art, particularly antiques, without written authorization from the Department of Antiquities. Contact the High Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in Ottawa for specific information regarding customs requirements.

    Photography of airports, government buildings and military installations is prohibited.

    Sharia law

    Islamic practices and beliefs are closely adhered to in Nigeria’s customs, laws and regulations. Sharia law has been adopted in 12 northern states (Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, KadunaKanoKatsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara). Exercise common sense and discretion in behaviour, and dress conservatively. In the north, women are advised to keep their legs covered and travel with a scarf that can be used to cover their head and arms when required.

    Ensure that you respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

    The Sharia penal code may be applicable to non-Muslims in some parts of the country. Transgressions could be punished by detention or other penalties.

    Money

    The economy of Nigeria is cash-based. The currency is the naira (NGN). U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Credit cards are accepted at some major hotels in Lagos and Abuja; however, you are strongly advised against the use of credit cards and debit cards due to the high potential for fraud and other criminal activity. Traveller’s cheques are very difficult to cash in Nigeria. The exportation of naira is limited by law to certain amounts.

    Climate

    The rainy season extends from May to October. During this period, rainfall is abundant and may result in localized flash flooding. Roads may become impassable in affected areas.

    In summer, central and northern Nigeria periodically experience heat waves. During the dry season, which extends from November to April, this region is also affected by the harmattan. 

    Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.