What Is The Meaning Of Nigeria?

There are numerous things about Nigeria that stirs the curiosity of both tourist and even its citizens. Aside from some of its natural scenery and incredibly diversified culture and ethnicity, the calling of the country’s name itself beckons on curious questions.

The name given to the giant of Africa has a significant reference point in its history, particularly during the colonial era by the British government.

But even until this day, not everyone knows what the term ‘Nigeria’ actually means and the story behind the naming of the country.

This is exactly what this post will dwell on, but in addition, we will touch on other significant facts you should know about Nigeria with respect to its identity as an African country.

So what does Nigeria mean?

The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a West African country. But the etymology behind its name can be traced back to during the colonial era.

The name Nigeria connotes the Niger River, from a native term “Ni Gir” (meaning “River Gir”). The Niger River is located at the center of the country where it forms a confluence with the River Benue.

It should be noted that the name has often been misinterpreted to be one that was derived from  Latin niger which points at dark complexions of the inhabitants of the region.

The story behind the name ‘Nigeria’

As explained above, the name Nigeria was inspired by the Niger River that flows through the country.

It was derived in the late 19th century by Mrs Flora Shaw, the wife of Baron Lugard who, at the time, was a British colonial administrator in the country.

The naming of Nigeria was not only the significant event that happened during the times that the British colonized the state as administrative structures were also set up with the recognition of local chiefs.

Presently, the Federal constitutional republic is made up of 36 states, and its Federal Capital Territory is located in Abuja as it shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north.

The name Nigeria and its resonance with the Nigerian people

Right now, there are about half a thousand ethnic groups in Nigeria, but only three out of these ethnic groups are the largest:  Hausa, Igbo, and Yoruba.

Being the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world.

The name Nigeria is not tuned to any religious or political maxim because it is purely inspired by what the country possesses. However, it is dominated by Christians, who mostly live in the South and central parts of the country, and Muslims, concentrated mostly in the north.


This brings us to the end of this precise post. Now that you know the meaning of Nigeria and what inspired the naming of this country, it no longer becomes a wonder why the nation records great revenues from its oil reserves.

The name reflects unity, peace, faith, and progress of the Nigerian people and has maintained its globally recognized name and national symbol since it attained independence.

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