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Who Named Nigeria? Find Out Here

Who named Nigeria? Who actually gave Nigeria her name?

Nigeria is a country located in the western part of Africa. It is one of the most populous countries on the African planet. This and many others are popular facts many people are aware of.  However, a lot of people do not know who named Nigeria. Find out who named Nigeria Below.


Nigeria is situated between the Sahel to the north and the Gulf of Guinea to the south in the Atlantic Ocean. It covers an area of 923,769 square kilometres and has a population of over 230 million, making it the most populous country in Africa and the world’s sixth-most populous country.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria borders Niger in the north, Chad in the northeast, Cameroon in the east, and Benin Republic in the west. It comprises 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, located in Abuja.

Nigeria is a state inhabited by more than 250 ethnic groups speaking 500 distinct languages and all identifying with a wide variety of cultures. The official language spoken in Nigeria is English language.

Nigeria’s economy is one of the largest in Africa, the 31st-largest in the world by GDP and the 26th-largest by PPP. The country is often regarded as the Giant of Africa owing to its large population and economy.

READ: Who was the First President of Nigeria?

History of Nigeria

Like so many other modern African states, Nigeria is the creation of European imperialism.

The history of Nigeria dates as far back as the 15th century, way before the colonial era. The earliest settlers lived in hunting, fishing, and farming societies. At this time, it was not known as Nigeria.

The Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to set foot in Nigeria even before the arrival of the British. They began trading with slaves, firearms, and spices. They also taught the people the art of writing and Christianity.

By the 18th century, the British bombarded Lagos while intervening in the Lagos sovereignty power struggle. They deposed Oba Kosoko and appointed Oba Akitoye.

On January 1st, 1852, the treaty between Great Britain and Lagos was signed, and in August 1861, Lagos was annexed as a Crown Colony via the Lagos Treaty of Cession. The Lagos colony has later officially renamed the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria or the Southern Protectorate. Another Protectorate was formed as the Northern Protectorate.

In 1856, Britain chartered the Royal Niger Company. In 1900, the company’s region came under the leadership of the British government, which then consolidated its control over the area of present-day Nigeria.

In 1901, Nigeria was made a British protectorate and was colonized until 1960, when the country gained independence.

On January 1, 1914, Lord Frederick Lugard, the governor of both the Northern Protectorate and the Southern Protectorate, signed a document amalgamating both protectorates into what is known as Nigeria today.


Who Named Nigeria?

The name ‘Nigeria’ was given to the country by a British journalist and Times colonial editor, Miss Flora Shaw, in the 19th century. The name was coined from the combination of ‘Niger’ and ‘Area’. River Niger is a river running through the country. It means the ‘area’ of the ‘River Niger’.

Who is Flora Shaw?

Who named Nigeria?
Flora Shaw

Dame Flora Louise Shaw is known as the woman who gave Nigeria its name. she was also a British journalist and writer.

Flora Shaw was born on December 19, 1852, in South London to an English father, Major General George Shaw, and a French mother, Marie Adrienne Josephine, as the fourth of fourteen children.  

Flora Shaw began her career in journalism in 1886, writing for the Pall Mall Gazette and the Manchester Guardian. She became the colonial editor of The Times in 1893, making her the highest-paid woman journalist of her day.  

SEE: Who is the Best President of Nigeria from 1960 till Date?

How Did Flora Shaw Name Nigeria?

In an essay that first appeared in The Times on 8 January 1897 by Miss Shaw, she suggested the name ‘Nigeria’ for the British protectorate on the Niger River. In her essay, she made a case for a shorter term that would be used for the territory to replace the official Royal Niger Company Territories.

She thought that the term ‘Royal Niger Company Territories’ was too long to be used s a name of a Real Estate Property under the Trading Company in that part of Africa.

While in search of a new name, she coined the name “Nigeria” in preference to other names such as ‘Central Sudan’ which was also associated with the area by some geographers and travellers.

Miss Flora Shaw married Lord Fredrick Lugard, the then governor of the Northern and Southern Protectorates, before the amalgamation, on the 10th of June, 1902. She then became Lady Flora Lugard.

Lady Flora Lugard died of pneumonia on the 25th of January, 1929, at the age of 76, in Surrey, England.


Who is Lord Lugard?

Lord Fredrick Lugard
Lord Fredrick Lugard

Fredrick John Dealtry Lugard is popularly known as the man who amalgamated the southern and northern protectorates, creating what is known as Nigeria today.

He was born in Madras, now known as Chennai in India, but was brought up in Worcester, England. Fredrick Lugard was born to the Reverend Fredrick Grueber Lugard, a British Army chaplain at Madras, and his third wife, Howard.

Lugard was commissioned into the 9th Foot (East Norfolk Regiment) in 1878 and joined the second battalion in India.

In 1912, Fredrick Lugard became the governor of the Southern Protectorate and the Northern Protectorate of Nigeria. His mission was to combine the two colonies into one.

After amalgamating both protectorates into one in 1914, Lord Lugard served as the Governor-general of the now-combined colony of Nigeria till 1919.

Lord Lugard got married to Miss Flora Shaw. She died in January 1929, and Lord Lugard died sixteen years later, in April 1945, at the age of 87.  

10 Interesting Facts About Nigeria

Here are some interesting facts about Nigeria you might or might not know before.

  • Nigeria is a diverse multiethnic country with more than 500 indigenous spoken languages.

Nigeria is one of the most diverse countries in the world in terms of language spoken. Experts estimate that more than 500 different languages are spoken in Nigeria.

Apart from the official language, English, the other major languages are Igbo, Yoruba, and Hausa. Some other common languages include Urhobo, Fulfulde, Kanuri, Tiv, Ibibio, and many more.

    Life expectancy is generally lower on the African continent; unfortunately, Nigeria is not an exception.

    • Nigeria was formed in 1914

    Modern-day Nigeria was actually formed in 1914 by Lord Fedrick Lugard when he merged the southern and Northern Protectorates of Nigeria to form the amalgamated Protectorate and colony of Nigeria.

    • Nigeria gained independence from colonial rule in 1960

    The country finally gained its independence from the British empire in 1960, initially adopting a British style of government with Abubakar Tafawa Balewa as the first Nigerian head of government called The Prime Minister.

    Dr Nnamdi Azikwe was the governor general at the time. When Nigeria became a republic in 1963, Nnamdi Azikwe became the first-ever president of Nigeria.

    • Nigeria has been under military rule for a combined 29 years

    In January 1966, the first-ever military coup in Nigeria occurred, overthrowing the democratic government under Dr Nnamdi Azikwe.

    A succession of increasingly repressive military governments ruled Nigeria for 29 years of the next 33 years until the restoration of democracy in 1999.

    More Facts About Nigeria

    • Nigeria returned to civilian rule in 1999

    The 1999 transition of Nigeria from military to civilian government was a defining moment in the history of Nigeria.

    The presidential election took place in February 1999, and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who was once a military head of state, was declared the winner. When he was the military president between 1976- 1979, he oversaw the transition of power from military to democratic rule before it was hijacked again by military rule.

    1999 represented the beginning of the longest uninterrupted government since independence in 1960.

    • A town in Nigeria is known to have one of the highest populations of twins in the world

    Igbo-ora is known as the country’s twin capital. Of every 10 people in this town, 8 are twins. Many of the citizens of Nigeria believe their consumption of yams and okra leaves is the cause of their high birth rate of twins.

    Some fertility experts believe that certain yams contain a natural hormone that could cause multiple ovulation. There is, however, no scientific evidence to back up this phenomenon.

    SEE THIS: Igbo-Ora: The Twins Capital of The World

    • Nigeria is home to Africa’s oldest dye pit

    Kofar Mata Dye pit in Kano was established in 1489 and it is the oldest of its kind in Africa.

    It continues preserving the traditional tye and dye production process in northern Nigeria.

    • Nigeria has two spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Sites

    The Sukur Cultural Landscape in Adamawa and the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove in Osun are the two outstanding UNESCO World Heritage Sites located in Nigeria.

    • Nigeria owns the world’s second-largest film industry in the world

    The Nigerian film industry, known as Nollywood, is one of the largest film industries in the world, second only to India’s Bollywood.

    Frequently Asked Questions On Who Named Nigeria

    Who gave Nigeria its name?

    The Name ‘Nigeria’ was coined by Lady Flora Shaw in the 1890s. The word was coined from the River Niger flowing through the country.

    What was Nigeria named before?

    Nigeria did not exist until 1914, when the Northern and Southern Protectorates were amalgamated.

    Who sold Nigeria to the British?

    George Goldie was the founder of the Royal Niger Company, which had its headquarters in Lokoja. Sir. Goldie sold the Southern Nigeria protectorate (land and people) to the British Government for £865,000 (eight hundred and sixty-five thousand pounds) in the year 1899.

    This article must have taught you a lot of things, including knowing the person who named Nigeria. Meanwhile, we hope that other information within the article proves helpful.