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Is Nigeria Safe?

Nigeria has a high crime rate, including armed robbery, kidnapping, and terrorism, especially in the north. Violent civil unrest and ethnic/religious conflicts are common. Travelers should exercise extreme caution, avoid crowds and protests, and follow local media. Medical facilities are limited, so travelers should ensure proper vaccinations and consider medical evacuation insurance. Road safety is poor due to reckless driving and lack of infrastructure.

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Safety & Security

Nigeria is generally considered safe for travelers who exercise reasonable precautions. However, there are some risks to be aware of:

  • Crime: Petty crimes like bag snatching, pickpocketing, and scams targeting foreigners are common, especially in major cities. Violent crimes, including armed robbery, kidnapping, and terrorism, also occur, though the risks vary by region.

  • Civil Unrest: Sporadic civil unrest, protests, and sectarian violence can occur, particularly in the Niger Delta region and parts of the north. Travelers should monitor local news and avoid demonstrations.

  • Terrorism: Terrorist groups like Boko Haram operate in some northern and northeastern states, carrying out attacks and kidnappings. The risk is lower but still present in other parts of the country.

  • Disputes: Ethnic and religious tensions can sometimes lead to violent clashes, especially in central states like Plateau and Kaduna. Travelers should avoid areas with active conflicts.

  • Scams: Common scams include fake travel agents, tour guides, and officials demanding bribes. Only use reputable services and be wary of unsolicited offers.

  • Robbery: Armed robberies, carjackings, and kidnappings for ransom occur, particularly on remote roads and at night. Avoid traveling alone or at night when possible.

While exercising caution, most visits to Nigeria are trouble-free. Staying alert, avoiding high-risk areas, and following the advice of local authorities can help mitigate risks.

Health & Medical

Travelers to Nigeria should be aware of potential health risks and take necessary precautions. While the country has made progress in improving healthcare, challenges remain, especially in rural areas.

  • Vaccinations: Ensure routine vaccinations are up-to-date, and consider additional vaccines like yellow fever, hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and meningitis, depending on your travel plans.

  • Malaria: Nigeria has a high risk of malaria transmission. Antimalarial medication is strongly recommended, along with insect repellent and protective clothing.

  • Water and Food Safety: Drink only bottled or purified water and avoid raw or undercooked food to prevent waterborne and foodborne illnesses like cholera, typhoid, and hepatitis.

  • Air Pollution: Major cities like Lagos and Abuja experience high levels of air pollution, which can exacerbate respiratory conditions. Carry necessary medications and limit outdoor activities during peak pollution times.

  • Medical Facilities: Quality medical facilities are available in major cities, but may be limited or lacking in rural areas. Comprehensive travel health insurance and medical evacuation coverage are advisable.

  • Lassa Fever: This viral hemorrhagic fever is endemic in some areas of Nigeria. Avoid contact with rodents and their excreta, and seek immediate medical attention if symptoms develop.

Natural Disasters

Nigeria is prone to several natural disasters that travelers should be aware of. The country experiences frequent flooding, particularly during the rainy season from April to October. Coastal areas are also at risk of storm surges and coastal erosion.

  • Flooding is a major concern, with severe floods occurring annually and causing loss of life, displacement, and damage to infrastructure.
  • Landslides can occur in hilly areas, especially during heavy rains, posing risks to travelers in affected regions.
  • Droughts are common in the northern parts of the country, leading to water scarcity and impacting agriculture.

While earthquakes are relatively rare, Nigeria lies along the Central African Rift Valley, making it susceptible to seismic activity. Additionally, the country's coastal regions are vulnerable to tropical storms and hurricanes during the Atlantic hurricane season from June to November.

It is advisable for travelers to monitor weather conditions, follow local advisories, and take necessary precautions during their visit to Nigeria. Staying informed about potential natural disasters can help ensure a safer and more enjoyable trip.


Transportation in Nigeria can be challenging for travelers. While major cities have public transportation options like buses and taxis, services are often unreliable and road safety is a concern.

  • Road Infrastructure: Many roads, especially in rural areas, are in poor condition with potholes and lack of proper signage, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Driving Habits: Aggressive driving, disregarding traffic rules, and overloaded vehicles are common, making road travel risky.
  • Public Transportation: Buses and shared taxis are available but can be overcrowded, poorly maintained, and prone to breakdowns or accidents.
  • Rental Cars: Renting a car with a driver is a safer option, but rental companies should be thoroughly vetted for reliability and safety standards.
  • Air Travel: Domestic flights are generally safe, but delays and cancellations can occur due to infrastructure and operational issues.

It's advisable for travelers to exercise caution, plan routes carefully, and consider hiring a reputable driver or guide, especially for long-distance journeys or travel outside major cities.

Cultural Norms

Nigeria is a culturally diverse nation with over 250 ethnic groups and multiple religions. As a traveler, it's essential to respect local customs and traditions to ensure a smooth and enriching experience. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Dress Modestly: Nigerians generally dress conservatively, especially in the northern regions. Avoid revealing clothing, and cover up when visiting religious sites or traditional communities.

  • Greetings: Greetings are essential in Nigerian culture. Shake hands with the right hand, and greet elders first. Avoid public displays of affection.

  • Religion: Islam and Christianity are the predominant religions. Respect religious practices, and avoid taking photographs inside places of worship without permission.

  • Haggling: Bargaining is common in markets and with street vendors. However, do so politely and avoid aggressive behavior.

  • Gestures: Be mindful of gestures, as some may be considered offensive. For example, avoid pointing with your finger or using your left hand for greetings or eating.

  • Festivals and Events: Nigeria has numerous cultural festivals and events throughout the year. Attending these can provide valuable insights into local traditions, but be respectful and follow any specific guidelines.

  • Photography: Ask for permission before taking photographs of individuals, especially in traditional or religious settings.

Embracing and respecting Nigeria's rich cultural diversity will not only enhance your travel experience but also foster understanding and goodwill between you and the local communities.

Emergency Services

Emergency services in Nigeria can be limited and unreliable, especially outside major cities. The availability and quality of emergency services vary greatly depending on the location. In general, travelers should exercise caution and be prepared for potential delays or inadequate responses.

  • Medical Facilities: While major cities have hospitals and clinics, the quality of medical care can be substandard, and facilities may lack adequate equipment and supplies. Private hospitals generally offer better services but can be expensive.

  • Police and Security Services: The Nigerian police force is often understaffed and underfunded, leading to potential delays in response times and limited capabilities. Corruption within the police force is also a concern.

  • Fire Services: Fire departments, particularly in rural areas, may have limited resources and equipment, resulting in inadequate response times and firefighting capabilities.

  • Tourist-Specific Services: There are no dedicated emergency services specifically for tourists in Nigeria. Travelers should familiarize themselves with local emergency numbers and procedures before their trip.

It is advisable for travelers to have comprehensive travel insurance and to research the nearest reputable medical facilities in their intended destinations. Exercising caution, being aware of potential risks, and having contingency plans in place can help mitigate the challenges posed by limited emergency services in Nigeria.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is Nigeria safe for tourists?

Nigeria is generally safe for tourists, but caution is advised. Avoid travel to certain regions due to terrorism, civil unrest, and crime. Remain vigilant, avoid isolated areas, and follow local advice. Kidnapping for ransom is a risk, especially in the north.

Is Nigeria safe for solo female travelers?

Solo female travelers should exercise increased caution in Nigeria. Dress conservatively, avoid isolated areas, and use trusted transportation. Sexual harassment and assault are risks, especially in crowded areas. Seek local advice and remain vigilant.

Is Nigeria safe for families?

Nigeria can be challenging for families with children due to safety concerns and lack of infrastructure. Avoid travel to high-risk areas and take precautions against diseases. Ensure access to quality medical care and secure accommodations.

Is Nigeria LGBTQ+ friendly?

Same-sex relationships are illegal in Nigeria and punishable by law. The LGBTQ+ community faces widespread discrimination and stigma. Exercise discretion and caution, as public displays of affection may lead to harassment or arrest.

Do you need a visa to go to Nigeria?

Most visitors require a visa to enter Nigeria. Citizens of some countries may obtain a visa on arrival, while others must apply in advance. Check requirements based on your nationality and purpose of travel. A valid passport is mandatory.

Can you drink tap water in Nigeria?

Tap water is not safe to drink in Nigeria. Waterborne diseases are common due to poor sanitation and contamination. Drink only bottled or purified water, and avoid ice cubes made from tap water.

What is the currency in Nigeria?

The Nigerian naira (NGN) is the official currency. While credit cards are accepted in major cities and hotels, cash is preferred, especially in rural areas. Carry small denominations for transactions.

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