Nigeria Naira - NGN
Anyone travelling to Nigeria will use the naira, the national currency, for the duration of their stay. This currency is only used in this country and it is issued by just one bank – the Central Bank of Nigeria. This decimal currency is divided into the kobo and there are 100 kobo in a single naira.
What coins and notes are available for this currency?
There are very few coins in use for this currency – amazingly enough just three! One of these is the 50 kobo coin and the other two are the 1 and 2 naira coins. This means that if inflation should get to the point where the 50 kobo coin becomes practically useless the kobo will still exist in theory but not in reality.
Aside from these coins there are lots of bank notes you’ll carry around with you while you are in the country. These are available in denominations of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000 naira notes.
From past to present – the history of the naira
Nigeria has had a few different currencies since the early years of the 20th century. First it had the British West African pound between 1907 and 1958, and this was followed by the Nigerian pound. This stayed in use for only 15 years until the Nigerian naira was brought in back in 1973. It has been used ever since and really it was only created when decimalisation of the currency was chosen as the best way forward.
How to get hold of the Nigerian naira
This can be a challenge. The main way to pay for things in Nigeria is with cash, which makes sense considering the dangers associated with using credit cards in this country. This means you have to be prepared to pay with cash most if not all of the time. For the most part traveller’s cheques aren’t a good idea either, since you may have considerable trouble finding anywhere to get them changed up. The best thing is to focus on cash and where to get it. Fortunately there are cash machines in the country you can use.
The other thing to bear in mind is that it can be difficult to get hold of Nigerian nairas in your home country. This means you may not be able to get them until you touch down in Nigeria. If this is the case the best currency to exchange there (or at least the easiest one from your point of view) is the US dollar. So take some of those as well as some of your own currency just in case.
How to find out the latest exchange rate between your home currency and the Nigerian naira
This is easy enough to do – all you need is easy access to a currency converter. You’ll need to find your own currency initially and then locate the Nigerian naira to convert an amount from one to the other. You can get a one-on-one conversion or enter the amount you want to take in spending money.
If you are looking up information on how far your own money will go when transferred into the naira, you may well be thinking of travelling to Nigeria at some point. You can find out more information about the country and what you should expect with regard to visas by visiting the Nigeria High Commission website at http://www.nigeriahc.org.uk/.
Travelling safely with Nigerian nairas
At the time of writing some areas of the country are inadvisable to visit, whereas other areas are only recommended to be visited if absolutely necessary. As such it is essential that you check the latest information and advice prior to planning any trip to Nigeria. In addition you should keep up with the latest situation just prior to going there and also while you are in the country. Things can change quickly and Nigeria has had problems with violence in some areas.
Aside from this the country is well-known for its problems with street crime. You should try and do all you can to minimise the risks against you. For example never carry any more cash on you than you absolutely need to. If you are staying in a hotel that has a safe you can use, make sure you use it! Some areas of Nigeria, such as Lagos, are safer than others but this does not mean it is completely safe. Minimising your risks by wearing little to no jewellery (and certainly nothing expensive) is a good move. Stay indoors at night too, regardless of where you happen to be in the country. This can help minimise the odds that anything will happen. It is also wise to divide your cash so you can keep small amounts in more than one place on your person.
One final point here is to make sure you are very protective of your credit cards. There are lots of cash machines all over the country so you shouldn’t have much issue finding one and using it. Do make sure you identify one that accepts foreign cards before starting though, in case it doesn’t like your card and decides to swallow it! In addition to this you should think about letting your card issuers know you will be in Nigeria prior to actually going there. This is because Nigeria is very well-known as a country that is involved in all manner of different scams. If your card issuer spots that your card is being used in the country the last thing they will think is that it is you using it perfectly legitimately. You can expect it to be stopped immediately if you try to use it there.
Where to spend your nairas in Nigeria – and what to spend them on
Nigeria is in West Africa and it has borders with several other countries. These are, from the top and in clockwise direction, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin. The southern border of the country meets the Gulf of Guinea.
Even though Lagos is arguably the best-known city in the country, this is actually not the capital. The capital city is Abuja, which you probably haven’t heard of at all. It doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting though, since it is relatively new, only built in the Eighties. It is almost in the exact centre of the country and consists of a number of differently named districts. Since the city is still quite new, there are still buildings being built here. As you can imagine it is all rather new and there are certainly no historical places you can visit. Don’t make the mistake of thinking there are no landmarks though – there is Aso Rock on the outskirts of the city and the Millennium Tower, which is due to be completed in 2014. Zuma Rock can also be seen nearby and Abuja City Gate is an impressive sight near the city.
Let’s move on to Lagos now to see what this city has to offer. You can find the city in the bottom left-hand corner of the country. Tourism is a big feature of Lagos and you will find many foreigners here enjoying everything the city has to offer. The position the city enjoys near the coast means you will find a few beaches here to check out too. Tarkwa Beach is a good choice as it is just outside the city proper. This means it isn’t as noisy as some of the other beaches you could pick. Another good option is Eleko Beach. Again this is actually just outside Lagos but it is still a good pick and there are lots of facilities here.
Another great place to go in Nigeria is called the Rojenny Tourist village. This is in Anambra State and it has all kinds of great attractions for you to take advantage of. There is a zoo here and you can also head for an amusement park if that takes your fancy. You’ll find plenty of places to eat as well, not to mention a swimming pool. This really is a village and it really does have it all! In fact some people elect to stay here and spend a few days exploring it all, or even stay for the duration of their trip to Nigeria.
Nigeria isn’t the first place you would think of when you are planning any holiday abroad. As you can see though there are all kinds of things you can see and do there, and we have really only just scratched the surface. If you want to make the most of any trip to Nigeria it is best to plan ahead and to stick to the safest areas of the country first and foremost.
This isn’t a country that is chock-full of ancient sites but it does have a lot to offer – perhaps more than you might initially think. Take a closer look today and see whether you might consider planning a trip to the country in the near future.