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Official Name : Federal Republic of Nigeria Capital: Abuja; note - on 12 December 1991 the capital was officially transferred from Lagos to Abuja in central Nigeria; most federal government offices have now made the move to Abuja (estimated population 310,000 in 1998). Lagos is the former capital (population 7.1m; 1999 estimate) Administrative divisions: 36 states and 1 territory*; Abia, Abuja Federal Capital Territory*, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Nassarawa, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, Zamfara Head of State President Olusegun Obasanjo National Currencies and current exchange rates : Naira (N) =100 kobo; Average exchange rate in 1999: N21.9:US$1; 20/2/01 - N114.0:US$1 National Day and other important days January 1, January 8 (Eid el Fitr), March 16th (Eid al-Kabir), Easter, June 15th (Maulud), October 1 (National Day), December 25th -…th System Of Government Federal republic Ethnic groups There are more than 250 distinct ethnic groups in Nigeria, making it one of the world's most ethnically diverse societies. The Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Ibo are the three main ethnic groupings, accounting for almost 80% of the population. Other large ethnic groups are the Ijaw, Kanuri, Ibibio and Tiv. Languages English (official); Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Fulani Religions Muslim 50%, Christian 35%, indigenous beliefs 15%. About 10 northern states have implemented Islamic law, or plan to do so, despite opposition from Christians and human rights groups. Zamfara state, which introduced Caritas Alert AFRICA/NIGERIA - Caritas of Nigeria issues an alert on the global economic recession and its great impact on the large African nation Abuja (Agenzia Fides) - "We are deeply concerned about the current global economic recession and the consequences it has unleashed on an already impoverished Nigerian population especially coming on the heels of the recent global food crisis," said the final statement from the meeting of the National Office for Justice, Development, and Peace of Caritas Nigeria. The meeting, which was attended by the Provincial Coordinators and Secretaries of nine Church provinces, was held in the Nigerian capital of Abuja on February 17-19. "The inadequacies of the global financial system have been made manifest and the dangers of over dependence on our human capabilities without recourse to divine guidance and directions in our affairs has become more apparent. We call on relevant government agencies to identify and implement policies and programmes that have a significant cushioning effect on the Nigerian population". Among the first victims of the crisis are children, whose living conditions are experiencing a sharp decline. The National Office of Caritas Nigeria wrote: "We note with dismay and with a lot of concern too the continuing degeneration of the situation of the Nigerian child. Our maternal mortality rates remain one of the highest in the world. Access to health care delivery is extremely limited especially in rural communities. In reference to the Niger Delta situation, Caritas affirms: "we are deeply concerned about the deplorable security situation in the Niger delta region characterized by kidnapping of persons and subsequent demands for payment of ransom. We call on all genuine advocates of resource control to take advantage of the newly created Ministry for Niger Delta and to abandon all uncivilized forms of agitation which have tended to give us a negative image in the comity of nations. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides - February 24, 2009)

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