POPULATION170,123,740 (July 2012 est.)
GDP PER CAPITA$2,600 (2011 est.)
RELIGIONSMuslim 50%, Christian 40%, indigenous beliefs 10%
AT THE CENTER
Islamic Law and U.S. Foreign Policy (Panel 2: Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Indonesia) (Full Screen)
The tension between Nigeria’s Muslim-majority North and its Christian-majority South fuels periodic sectarian conflicts and informs the government’s attempts to balance religion-state separation with its need to appease the country’s religious factions. Islam arrived in Nigeria in the 11th century, gradually spreading throughout the North while local animist traditions remained dominant in the South. Existing ethnic and regional divides were further consolidated under British rule by treating the North and South as two distinct colonial entities; the colonial authorities often cooperated with Islamic authorities in the North while allowing Christian missionaries to operate in the South. A religiously mixed and often troubled Middle Belt lies between North and South, and substantial Christian and Muslim minorities exist in the two regions. Nigeria’s Constitution grants freedom of religion and bars the establishment of a state religion. Sharia courts have been implemented in many northern states, but in theory they have jurisdiction only over Muslims. Religious clashes in Nigerian society are often linked to larger social and political conflicts.