"Nigeria, Africa's largest producer of oil and its largest democracy, is one of the U.S. government's key strategic partners on the continent. It is Africa's most populous country, with over 150 million people, roughly half Muslim and half Christian, and its second-largest economy. Diplomatic relations with Nigeria, which is regularly the fourth- or fifth-largest oil exporter to the United States, are strong, and the country is a major recipient of U.S. foreign assistance. After 16 years of military rule, Nigeria made the transition to civilian governance in 1999, and the country subsequently emerged as a powerful actor in African politics. The government has helped to resolve political disputes in several African countries, and the country ranks fourth among troop contributors to U.N. peacekeeping missions around the world. Nigeria faces serious social and economic challenges, however, that some analysts contend threaten both the stability of the state and the region, and which may affect global oil markets. The country today is relatively stable, but it has faced intermittent political turmoil and economic crises since gaining independence in 1960. Political life has been scarred by conflict along ethnic, religious, and geographic lines, and misrule has undermined the authority and legitimacy of the state. Nigeria's oil and natural gas revenues are estimated at over $60 billion per year, but its human development indicators are among the world's lowest, and a majority of the population suffers from extreme poverty."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33964