Aso Rock © Mark Fischer
Founded in the late 1970s, Abuja, the relatively new
capital of Nigeria, 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
division. Divided into four districts, with designated business and
residential sectors, the city has leafy, wide roads, high office
towers, and large apartment blocks.
It is infinitely less congested and polluted than
Lagos, the former capital. Much of the city is still under
construction and its population remains small, thus it 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 gentler introduction to a Nigerian
holiday than Lagos does.
Aso Rock is the landscape's dominant feature; an
ancient 400-metre high outcrop on the city's outskirts, which looms
behind the attractive government buildings. Although there is
little else on offer in the way of tourist attractions in Abuja,
visitors can explore the 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 interesting tourist
destination in its own right.