Español || Français
      AQUASTAT Home        About AQUASTAT     FAO Water    Statistics at FAO

Featured products

Main Database
Global map of irrigation areas
Irrigation water use
Water and gender
Climate info tool

Geographical entities

Countries, regions, river basins


Water resources
Water uses
Irrigation and drainage
Institutional framework
Other themes

Information type

Summary tables
Maps and spatial data

Info for the media

Did you know...?
Visualizations and infographics
SDG Target 6.4
UNW Briefs

Read the full profile


Geography, climate and population


Nigeria is located in the tropical zone of West Africa and has a total area of 923 770 km². It is bordered to the west by Benin, to the northwest and north by Niger, to the northeast by Chad and to the east by Cameroon, while the Atlantic Ocean forms the southern limits of Nigerian territory. Land cover ranges from thick mangrove forests and dense rain forests in the south to a near-desert condition in the northeastern corner of the country. Nigeria is a federal republic constituted by 36 States and a capital territory.

Three broad ecological zones are commonly distinguished in the country: the northern Sudan Savannah, the Guinea Savannah zone or Middle Belt, and the southern rainforest zone. A mountainous zone is found at the border with Cameroon and the plateau zone in the centre of the country.

Total agricultural land is estimated at almost 71 million ha, which is 77 percent of the total area of the country. In 2013, the cultivated area was 40.5 million ha, of which arable land covered 34.0 million ha and permanent crops 6.5 million ha (Table 1). Internal water bodies cover around 1 million ha (FMWR, 2014).


The climate is semi-arid in the north and gradually changes toward the south into savanna and finally tropical rainforest with humid conditions. Except for an ultra-humid strip along the coast with rainfall averages of over 2 000 mm/year, where it rains almost all year round, rainfall patterns are marked by distinct wet and dry seasons of varying duration. The rainy season lasts from 9-12 months in the south to 2-3 months in the northern area. Rainfall is concentrated in the period June-September. Deficiency in total annual precipitation is a problem in parts of the country, particularly in the northern parts where it is only 400 mm. In most other areas, however, the major problems are the distribution in time and space and the low dependability of rainfall. Mean annual rainfall over the whole country is estimated at 1 150 mm. Mean annual pan evaporation is 2 450 mm in the southeast, 2 620 mm in the centre and 5 220 mm in the north of the country. The average air temperature is 26.6°C.


Nigeria is by far the most populous country in Africa. With its 182 million people it accounts for over one-seventh of the total population of Africa’s 54 countries (2015). The population density of 197 inhabitants/km² is also high, being almost five times the population density for Africa as a whole. Annual growth rate during 2005-2015 is about 2.7 percent and 52 percent of the population is rural in 2015, which is the same as 10 years earlier.

In 2014, the Human Development Index ranks Nigeria 152 among 188 countries. Life expectancy is 53 years and the under-five mortality is 113 per 1000 births, both progressing from 46 years and over 200 per 1000 in the 1990s. Around 66 percent of the children in 2010 are enrolled in primary education with over 10 point difference between girls (60 percent) and boys (71 percent). There is no data available regarding secondary school’s enrolment, but only 10 percent are enrolled in tertiary education with a reduced gap between female (9 percent) and male (12 percent) (WB, 2016). Adult literacy is 51 percent in 2008, with a significant gap between female literacy (41 percent) and male literacy (61 percent). Poverty concerns almost half of the population (46 percent) in 2009 and is more common in rural areas (53 percent of the rural population). Despite steady GDP growth, poverty increased over the period 2004-2010 as a result of growing unemployment, especially in the northern areas (FMWR, 2014). In 2015, 81 percent of the urban and 57 percent of the rural population were using improved drinking water sources, that is 69 percent of the total population This represents a major improvement since 2002 when only 60 percent of the population had access to an improved drinking water source (JMP, 2015).


^ go to top ^

       Quote as: FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Website accessed on [yyyy/mm/dd].
      © FAO, 2016   |   Questions or feedback?    [email protected]
       Your access to AQUASTAT and use of any of its information or data is subject to the terms and conditions laid down in the User Agreement.