In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Nigeria is Number 94 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. The Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria was a British-administered territory, created from the amalgamation of the Colony and Protectorate of Lagos with the Protectorate of Southern Nigeria in 1906 and a further amalgamation with the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria in 1914. The book covers physical and political geography, political history, social and political conditions, and economic conditions. The population of the territory is given as 17 million, distributed among many ethnic and linguistic groups, including large numbers of Ibo, Hausa, and Fulani. The study stresses the territory’s significance for the British Empire: “The importance of Nigeria, both political and commercial, is too obvious to need to be emphasized. It gives Great Britain full control of the basin of the Lower Niger and of the Niger Delta, access to Lake Chad, and predominance among the Mohammedan states in this part of Central Africa…. It has abundance and variety both of coast and inland products, and mineral as well as agricultural wealth, notably coal and tin.” No mention is made of petroleum, which was not discovered in Nigeria until 1956 and developed as the country’s main industry in the late 1960s. Nigeria became independent on October 1, 1960, and is the most populous country in Africa.

Last updated: March 24, 2015