Nigeria: Growing by Leaps and Bounds

Africa's most populous country, Nigeria, is forecast to see its population grow at a remarkably high rate in the coming decades. We wonder: Which major region of the world will Nigeria overtake in population by 2100?

A. Northern Africa
B. Northern America
C. Europe
D. Latin America and the Caribbean
E. All of the above

A. Northern Africa is correct.

Currently at 158 million, the population of Nigeria is projected to be 730 million in 2100, according to the latest projections from the UN Population Division. That is more than double the projected population in 2100 of Northern Africa. Currently, Nigeria has 50 million fewer inhabitants than Northern Africa.

Africa's population is projected to grow very rapidly in the coming nine decades: from one billion today to 3.6 billion by 2100. By that time, the continent's population will be equal to the total world population back in 1970.

B. Northern America is correct.

Nigeria's population will exceed that of Northern America — which the United Nations defines as the United States and Canada — by more than 200 million people by 2100. In contrast, today's combined U.S. and Canadian population exceeds Nigeria's by nearly 200 million. Nigeria’s population is expected to surpass Northern America’s around 2060.

By 2100, with 790 inhabitants per square kilometer, Nigeria will be 25 times more densely populated than the United States is today.

C. Europe is correct.

By 2100, Nigeria's population will exceed that of all of Europe by more than 50 million. In contrast, Nigeria's current population is only about one-fifth of Europe's.

The shift is the result of their divergent fertility rates, with most European couples having one or two children, while the average for a Nigerian couple is five or six children.

D. Latin America and the Caribbean is correct.

The population of all of Latin America and the Caribbean is forecast to be 42 million less than that of Nigeria in 2100. Nigeria's population today is about a quarter of Latin America and the Caribbean's.

E. All of the above is correct.

By 2100, Nigeria will have a larger population than Northern Africa, Northern America, Europe or Latin America and the Caribbean.

However, one region whose population Nigeria will not exceed is Asia. The continent's population is projected to rise from 4.2 billion today to 4.6 billion in 2100. While Asia will retain its status as the most populous continent, Africa is catching up, rising from one quarter of Asia's population today to more than three quarters by 2100. Nigeria's population increase over the next nine decades, at 571 million, will exceed the population increase of all of Asia by 140 million.

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