Abuja Travel Guide

Nigerian National Mosque, Abuja © Bernd Noack

As a purpose-built city, there is something rather contrived about Abuja, the relatively new capital of Nigeria. Laid out in a crescent shape, it is situated in the heart of the country in an area called the Federal Capital Territory; a location chosen for its neutrality in a country rife with ethnic and religious clashes.

Divided into four districts, with designated business and residential sectors, the city has leafy, wide roads, high office towers and large apartment blocks, and is infinitely less congested and polluted than Lagos, the former capital. Much of the city is still being built and its population is small, making it a rather characterless place that lacks the colour and bustle of other Nigerian cities. However, it must be noted that for tourists not used to travelling on the African continent, Abuja makes for a far more gentle introduction to a holiday than in Nigeria than Lagos does.

The dominant feature on the landscape is Aso Rock, an ancient 400-metre high outcrop on the city's outskirts caused by water erosion, and which looms behind the attractive Government buildings. There is, however, little else on offer in the way of tourist attractions in Abuja, apart from nearby Zuma Rock, the National Mosque, the National Church, Parade Square and the Wuse Market.

Abuja is often used as a jumping-off point for exploring the rest of the country, and most visitors only take a day or two to take in its limited sights. Perhaps as it grows in stature and size, Abuja will become more of an international tourist destination in its own right.

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