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This chapter provides a brief historical background and a description of major events in Nigeria. It also provides basic political, economic, and social data arranged in the following categories: polity, economy, population, purchasing power parities, life expectancy, ethnic groups, capital, political rights, civil liberties, and status. The chapter discusses the progress and decline of political rights and civil liberties in Nigeria. Violence on several levels wracked Nigeria in 2001, claiming thousands of lives and bringing the military under its most intense scrutiny since the return of democratic rule three years ago. Crime and vigilantism soared, fighting between Christians and Muslims continued, and tension among many of the country's 250 ethnic groups escalated. Nigeria initially appeared to be emerging from several years of military rule under General Ibrahim Babangida in 1993, when presidential elections were held. The majority of Nigerians are engaged in small-scale agriculture, while most wealth is controlled by a small elite.