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journey so far and the challenges ahead

Nigeria is a relatively young country, having gained independence from Britain in 1960. It is the most populous black country in the world and demographically, one in four Africans is a Nigerian. Presently, the country has a population of about 120 million people with a total land area of 923,768 km2. Its greatest length from east to west is about 1123 km and from north to south is 1040 km. Nigeria's immediate neighbours are the Republic of Benin to the west, Republics of Niger and Chad to the north, the Republic of Cameroun, and the Gulf of Guinea are to the east and south, respectively.

Recent information on the demographic characteristics of Nigeria shows that the situation is similar to that of other countries in the developing countries. Almost one-half of the population is under 15 years of age, with only a small percentage of the total population being 65 years and above. There is a preponderance of young persons in the population and the burden of childhood dependency is consequently high. There are about 300 different tribal and linguistic groups within the border of Nigeria. Of these, only about 10 principal national groups constitute more than 80 per cent of the entire nation. The majority of the people are agarians and over 70 per cent of the population live in rural communities.