Abuja, Nigeria Official capital of Nigeria.
The town of Abuja was founded by the Hausa Zazzua dynasty and conquered by the Fulani during their early-eighteenth-century jihad (holy war). Abuja is also home to numerous smaller ethnic groups, making it one of the more ethnically “neutral” cities in Nigeria. The 2006 census set the population at 778,567.
Relative ethnic parity was one of several reasons that the Nigerian government chose Abuja as the capital. Other factors included its central location—almost exactly in the middle of the country—and its comfortable climate, low population density, and potential for expansion. Abuja is located on the grassy, rolling Chukuku Hills, at an elevation of 360 meters (1,180 feet).
Plans for Abuja's development were drafted in 1976, and construction, slowed by Nigeria's debt, took place over several years. In 1991 Abuja officially replaced congested Lagos as the capital. The city's central zone contains government buildings, including the National Assembly, as well as cultural institutes; residential and commercial areas lie at the periphery. The Federal Capital Territory Ministry has recently begun demolishing houses and buildings as part of a development plan to sanitize Abuja.
Electricity from Shiroro Dam, seventy-four kilometers (forty-six miles) to the southwest on the Niger River, powers Abuja. Expressways connect the city to other parts of the country, and an airport services international flights.
See also Urbanism and Urbanization in Africa.