Stamps issued: 1960-PRESENT
Republic in West Africa, on the Gulf of Guinea. Nigeria was discovered by the Portuguese in the 15th century and was an early center of the African slave trade. By the end of the 18th century, British influence was tantamount in the coastal areas. Britain expanded its holdings in the area after 1861 and consolidated its holdings into the protectorates of Northern Nigeria and Southern Nigeria, which were united to form Nigeria in 1914. Nigeria became an independent federation in 1960 and a republic in 1963. Inter-tribal tensions have been strong since independence. A period of political strife during 1966-67 brought the secession of Biafra, which comprised the mineral-rich southeastern portion of the country. In the ensuing civil war, one million people died, most of them Biafran Ibos. In January 1970, Biafra surrendered and was reabsorbed into Nigeria. Nigeria has rich petroleum deposits and is a member of OPEC. The massive oil price increases of the 1970s enabled Nigeria to launch an ambitious campaign of economic development. Drastic cutbacks in oil exports during 1981-82, however, made it increasingly difficult to maintain these programs. Nigeria has been ruled by the military since 1966, except for a period of civilian rule during 1979-1983.