Nigeria is the world's 20th largest economy, disputably the largest African economy, and is the most populous African nation with over 185 million inhabitants. Much of the country's wealth has come from petroleum, which accounts for 40% of the national GDP. In addition, 30% of Nigerians work in agriculture. The country was home to vast kingdoms and empires prior to British colonialism with the oldest recorded kingdom dated to 500 BC. Many descendants of Africans in the Americas can trace at least part of their ancestry to what is now Nigeria as this area contributed heavily to the Transatlantic Slave Trade. After securing independence from British colonial authorities in 1960, Nigeria was seized by several dictatorships which ruled the emerging country absolutely in subsequent eras. Democracy was restored in 1999 following the sudden death of Sani Abacha.

Today, Nigeria is home to over 500 distinct ethnic groups with large Christian, Muslim, and animist communities. However, the country's rapid economic and demographic transformation has provoked deep ethnic, religious, environmental, and socioeconomic stresses that have become apparent over the last 50 years. Prior to its massive population growth, the country was able to sufficiently produce enough food to feed its citizens. Today, Nigeria relies heavily on food imports. Endemic corruption and mismanagement, both of which abounded under past military dictators, have proven hard to eliminate, marring the ability of the population to partake in the country's economic bounty. Persistent divides between urban and rural communities as well as between the country's many ethnic and religious constituencies have led to a checkered developmental picture. Civil strife and terrorism periodically occur with bombings and attacks in the country's northern provinces led by Islamist group Boko Haram among the more notable violent events in recent times.