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Abuja is the capital of Nigeria in West Africa. It is located in the center of Nigeria, within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Just under 800,000 people live in Abuja (less than a tenth that live in Lagos, the old capital). Abuja City and the FCT is still experiencing huge population growth; it has been reported that some areas around Abuja have been growing at 20 to 30% per year.
Abuja is a planned city, it became Nigeria's capital city in 1991 and it's situated in the center of the country. Physically located in the centre of the country and viewed as neutral both ethnically and religiously, it is where culture and religion meet. Abuja was constructed during the 1980's. The downtown area, Phase 1, is planned out and mostly completed. It includes the Central Business District, the Three Arms Zone (Presidency, National Assembly and Supreme Court) as well as the Maitama, Wuse, Garki and Asokoro residential and business districts. Abuja has an excellent road network, beautiful rolling terrain and modern Nigerian architecture. Multinationals have their headquarters here, embassies are based here, as well as a large national assembly. Abuja is also the headquarters of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, and regional headquarters of OPEC. Phase 2, under development currently, involves the integration of the surrounding Katampe, Mabushi, Utako, Wuye, Durumi, Gudu. Jabbi, Duste and Gaduwa areas into the city.
Nigeria's climate varies with equatorial weather in south, tropical in the center, and arid in north. Rainy seasons vary within the regions: May - July in the south, September - October in the west, April - October in the east and July - August in the north.
The rainy season in Abuja begins in April and ends in October; this varies within the regions. Daytime temperatures range between 28 °C (82.4 °F) and 30 °C (86.0 °F) while nighttime lows hover around 22 °C (71.6 °F) and 23 °C (73.4 °F).
Places to Visit
· Presidential Complex
The Nigerian Presidential Complex is the office and residence of the Nigerian President. Officially it is known as "State House", and "The Aso Rock Presidential Villa" and informally as " The Rock", "The Villa" or "Aso Villa". The palatial residence was completed in 1991, the same year the military junta of Ibrahim Babangida relocated the national capital from Lagos to Abuja. Aso Villa encompasses the 400 meter monolith Aso Rock, located within the Three Arms Zone of Abuja metropolis.
· The Nigerian National Mosque
The Abuja National Mosque is one of the most recognised religious buildings in the city of Abuja and as a result, a vast number of people visit the mosque every year. The mosque has an administrative block within which offices, Conference hall and library are located.
There are three residential quarters within the complex accommodating the Chief Imam, his deputy and other staff. The National Mosque is open to visitors throughout the year.
· Abuja Millennium Park
In almost every district there’s a recreational park or garden. The 6 most popular parks and gardens are City Park – Wuse 2, Zalikha Gardens – Area 2, Circles Gardens – Maitama, Nook Gardens – Zone 5, Maitama Gardens and Millennium Park. The Millennium Park is the largest public park of Abuja and is located in the Maitama district of the city, near to the former Presidential Palace close to the nucleus of presidential and administrative buildings of the city. The park was inaugurated by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom on 4 December 2003. A river crosses the Park in its main rectilinear axis, dividing it into two parts. One side on the Park is dedicated to uncontaminated nature. The other side, corresponding to the main entrance from road, is dedicated to the scientific knowledge of the natural environment. This part of the Park has a very traditional and rigid Italian Style Garden Layout. This Park, conceived and designed by the Italian architect Manfredi Nicoletti, has quickly become of the city of Abuja bringing thousands of people together each day.
· Aso Rock
Aso Rock is a large outcrop that is on the outskirts of Abuja. The Aso Rock is a 400 metre monolith and is the city's most noticeable feature. The Nigerian Presidential Complex, Nigerian National Assembly and Nigerian Supreme Court are located around it. Much of the town extends to the south of the rock. "Aso" means victorious in the native language of the Asokoro ("the people of victory"). Aso Rock was the site of the 2003 Aso Rock Declaration, issued by Heads of Government of the Commonwealth during the CHOGM held in Abuja. It reaffirmed the Commonwealth's principles as detailed under the Harare Declaration, but set the 'promotion of democracy and development' as the organisation's priorities.
· Currency Museum of the Central Bank of Nigeria
This small museum, located inside the modern Central Bank of Nigeria building, shows the history of currency used in modern Nigeria as well as ancient mediums of exchange used in west Africa. It tells the story of the Central Bank of Nigeria from its inception in 1959 to its current role today. The historical displays include material drawn from the Bank's own collections of artifacts, documents, paintings, banknotes, coins and photographs, and those sourced from the National Commission for Museums & Monuments. There are audio visual displays which explains the Bank's present day role.
· Art & Craft village
The Abuja Arts and Craft Village is a centre for arts and crafts. It is located in the Central Business District, behind the Silverbird Cinema. This village is open from 8 am to late daily. Visitors can see and buy some of Nigeria's arts and crafts that represent the country's culture. The art shops are thatch-roofed huts with walls made from red earth (clay). The art ranges from small sculpted "warrior and horse" statuettes, beaded necklaces and bracelets, to African traditional masks, leather bags and clothes.