More information about Nigeria is available on the Nigeria Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
The United States established diplomatic relations with Nigeria in 1960, following Nigeria’s independence from the United Kingdom. From 1966 to 1999, Nigeria experienced a series of military coups, excluding the short-lived second republic between 1979 and 1983. The 30-month long civil war, which ended in January 1970, resulted in 1-3 million casualties. Following the 1999 inauguration of a civilian president, the U.S.-Nigerian relationship began to improve, as did cooperation on foreign policy goals such as regional peacekeeping.
Nigeria is the largest economy and most populous country in Africa with an estimated population of over 200 million, which is expected to grow to 400 million by 2050 and become the third most populous country in the world after China and India. Nigeria had an estimated gross domestic product of 448 billion USD in 2019. Although Nigeria’s economy has become more diversified, crude oil sales have continued to be the main source of export earnings and government revenues. Despite persistent structural weaknesses such as a deficient transportation infrastructure, the Nigerian economy grew briskly for the decade ending in 2013. In 2016 and 2017 Nigeria experienced its first recession in over two decades before rebounding in 2018. Before COVID-19, the Nigerian economy was expected to grow by 2.1% in 2020. The collapse in oil prices coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic is expected to lead to a severe economic recession, the worst since the 1980s, according to the World Bank. Inflation hit 13.74 percent in September 2020, a two-year high, and is expected to pass 14 percent by December 2020. Nigeria’s economy could contract as much as 8.9 percent in 2020. With more than 60% of the population living in poverty, the recession is expected to make an even greater number of households vulnerable to unemployment and food insecurity.
In the 2015 presidential elections, for the first time in the country’s history, an opposition party won the presidency and control of the National Assembly in generally clean and transparent elections. Notwithstanding important steps forward on consolidating democracy, the country continues to face the formidable challenges of terrorist attacks, inter-communal conflicts, crime and kidnapping, and public mistrust of the government. Nigeria has yet to develop effective systems to address corruption, poverty, and ineffective social service delivery.
President Muhammadu Buhari won a second four-year term in February 2019. The United States continues to support Nigerian institutions and the Nigerian people in their efforts to conduct free, fair, transparent, and peaceful elections, the results of which reflect the will of the Nigerian people.
In April 2018, President Trump hosted President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria at the White House to discuss efforts to deepen our mutually beneficial relationship. Since 2010, under the U.S.-Nigeria Binational Commission (BNC), a forum for high-level discussions, the two countries have met regularly. The most recent BNC was held on February 3, 2020, in Washington D.C. and attended by an inter-agency delegation headed by Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama and Under Secretary of State David Hale. The BNC meetings have focused on key areas of mutual interest, including good governance and anti-corruption; trade and investment; development and food security; and security and counter-terrorism efforts.
In April 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken conducted a virtual visit to Nigeria, participating in meetings with President Buhari and Foreign Minister Onyeama and participating in a health partnership event, highlighting the United States’ commitment to assisting Nigeria in combatting infectious diseases and advancing global health security.
U.S. Assistance to Nigeria
Through U.S. assistance in Nigeria, the U.S. Government works to protect Americans from terrorism and disease, create opportunity for trade and investment, and support a more stable and prosperous country that is a partner in advancing our global priorities. Through U.S. foreign assistance, the U.S. Government is supporting Nigerian efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, promote good governance and counter corruption, and improve security while addressing the factors that drive conflict and providing life-saving assistance to those affected by terrorism. U.S. assistance also aims to build institutional capacity in the provision of health and education services and increase agricultural productivity and food security. More details on foreign assistance to Nigeria can be found here.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States is the largest foreign investor in Nigeria, with U.S. foreign direct investment concentrated largely in the petroleum/mining and wholesale trade sectors. At $3.2 billion in 2019, Nigeria is the second largest U.S. export destination in Sub-Saharan Africa. The United States and Nigeria have a bilateral commercial investment dialogue, led by the Department of Commerce, and was last convened at the ministerial level in February 2020. In 2019, the two-way trade in goods between the United States and Nigeria totaled over $10 billion. U.S. exports to Nigeria include wheat, vehicles, machinery, kerosene, lubricating oils, jet fuel, civilian aircraft, and plastics. Nigerian exports to the United States included crude oil, cocoa, cashew nuts, and animal feed. Nigeria is eligible for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
Bilateral Security Cooperation
Nigeria is an important U.S. security partner in Africa. Nigeria is engaged in intensive efforts to defeat terrorist organizations within its borders, including Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA). Nigeria is a vital member of the Defeat ISIS (D-ISIS) coalition and in October 2020, Nigeria co-hosted a virtual D-ISIS conference with the United States.
Nigeria’s Membership in International Organizations
Nigeria and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Nigeria also is an observer to the Organization of American States.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria is Mary Beth Leonard; other principal embassy and consulate officials are listed in the Department’s Key Officers List.
Nigeria maintains an embassy in the United States at 3519 International Place, NW, Washington, DC 20008, (tel: 202-800-7201, ext 113).
More information about Nigeria is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
CIA World Factbook Nigeria Page
USAID Nigeria Page
History of U.S. Relations With Nigeria
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Country Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Library of Congress Country Studies