The culture of Nigeria is shaped by Nigeria’s multiple ethnic groups. The country has 527 languages and over 1,150 dialects/ethnic groups. The four largest ethnic groups are the Hausa and Fulani in the north, the Igbo in the southeast, and the Yoruba predominate in the southwest. The South of Nigeria is predominantly Christian, whilst the North predominately Muslim. Some states operate Sharia law. When travelling to predominantly Moslem areas, modest attire for women, is advised. Nigerian culture is very respectful of the elderly. Age gaps are a big deal especially in Yoruba culture, so this is important to bear in mind, especially in the workplace. You will more often than not find that people in positions of power are likely to be much older than you would find in the West.

Social amenities

When you are greeting someone, it is proper for both men and women to stand. Usually, people will shake hands, but be aware that there is a large Muslim population in Nigeria and some men may refrain from shaking hands with a woman. It is socially polite to ask about a person’s health and also about their immediate family. Nigerians are very friendly and open to meeting new people, and if you take the time to get to know the local population, you will be richly rewarded.


Although Nigeria lies wholly within the tropical zone, when we talk about Nigeria weather and climate, there are wide climatic variations in different areas of the country. Near the coast, the seasons are not sharply defined. Temperatures rarely exceed 32°C (90°F), but humidity is very high and nights are hot. Inland, there are two distinct seasons: a wet season from April to October, with generally lower temperature, and a dry season from November to March, with midday temperatures that surpass 38°C (100°F), but relatively cool nights.

Around and about

In the bigger cities, there are shopping malls, cinemas, bars and clubs, but outside the larger urban areas, this kind of entertainment is rare, and the “mall” be a market or souq in the center of town. Nigeria has many national museums, generally found in large cities and state capitals. The National Library of Nigeria is located in Lagos, as is the National Theater. The Institutes of African Studies at the universities of Ibadan and Nigeria (Nsukka), have done much to reawaken interest in traditional folk dancing and poetry. Nigeria’s largest cities, Lagos and Abuja, are large, congested cities that can make it hard to navigate. Nigerian drivers have a reputation for being aggressive and reckless, while local people can be very forward and, in general, Westerners will attract attention and therefore feel conspicuous. Random people can shout things like ‘Anything for the weekend’ or ‘Anything for the boys’ , this is usually a request for money.

Westerners generally live in compounds that recreate a familiar world. Gated communities are common and within these boundaries, expat life is a familiar blend of socializing, sports and entertainment. If you take the relevant precautions, brush up on the dos and don’ts of the different areas and remember at all times that Nigeria is a developing country, you will have a worthwhile and enriching experience. One of the biggest cultural differences that expats talk about is the Nigerian party or ‘owambe; culture. It will seem that just about everything (from getting a new car, to returning from Mecca) is a cause for celebration. Birthday celebrations, weddings and other public gatherings tend to be louder, more flamboyant and larger than most expats are used to. Dancing is a popular pastime in Nigeria, which is understandable as Nigerians do it very well; night clubs are usually full of people who really do just go to dance and have a good time. When out socializing, Nigerians will drink a lot less than is consumed in many Western countries. Drinking until drunk is incomprehensible to Nigerians and will be frowned upon.

The food
Traditional Nigerian food is hot and spicy, eaten accompanied by Nigerian palm wine or beer. In the big cities, Western food is available in supermarkets like Spar/ Shoprite/Goodies and Hubmart, but if you are looking for familiar goods from home, if you find them, expect to pay more than you’re used to. You will also find KFC and Domino’s Pizza, but surprisingly, no McDonalds.

Internet and mobile phone services

Internet is broadband speed in the cities. Most popular providers are Smile, Swift and Ntel. Numerous cellphone providers offer different monthly plans. Schools In terms of schools in Lagos and Abuja, there are a number of good schools that run US/UK curricula.

Things to do for kids

Shopping malls, after-school clubs, parks, beaches and tourist activities abound. Kids will not be short of things to do.

Work permits for spouses

Work permits for spouses maybe difficult to obtain, but with time, most people who want them are able to get.

Some practicalities

Even in the biggest cities, a proper public toilet with a locking door and toilet paper is usually a luxury, and it’s not unusual for expats to carry their own toilet paper or tissues. Outside of Abuja and Lagos, tampons are also hard to find as Nigerian ladies tend to favor sanitary towels. Female expats should therefore stock up before they arrive and ensure that they are always well prepared.


According to Quartz, Nigeria’s movie industry has become the country’s second largest employer and shows huge potential as an export product to the rest of the world. This is especially important for a Nigerian government which is keenly aware of the need to diversify from its over-reliance on oil for 90% of its export revenue.


Afrobeat is a music genre which developed in the 1970s out of a combination of West African musical styles, such as Fuji music and highlife with American jazz, with a focus on chanted vocals and percussion. Since 2012, Afrobeats have gained mainstream recognition outside of Africa, especially within the UK. UK hits have included “Oliver Twist” by D’banj which reached 9 in the UK singles charts in 2012.

To read and also download our e-book – A COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE FOR EXPATS COMING TO LIVE IN NIGERIA, click here.

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