Choropleth Maps of Nigeria: Socio-economic indicators visualized state by state


Choropleth Maps of Nigeria is a data journalism project that aims to highlight the spatial variability of different socio-economic indicators across Nigeria’s states through an interactive choropleth map.

Why the project?

Nigeria operates as a federation made up of 36 states and a federal capital territory. Whilst national aggregate data for different socio-economic and socio-political variables are often available in the public domain, the case is not the same for state-level data. The spatial variability of socio-economic indicators across the different states in Nigeria provides a handy explanation for the contrast in development patterns across Nigeria. For example, while the Nigerian economy grew to become the largest economy in Africa within the past few years, the high level of poverty and lack of economic opportunities in some parts of Nigeria drove hundreds of youths towards acts of terrorism. This is an indication that socio-economic indicators often reported at aggregate level by government may hide the realities at a sub-national level. This project uses an interactive choropleth map to provide an easy way to visualize how different socio-economic indicators differ across the different states in Nigeria. It is hoped that it will help researchers, policy makers and the public to make informed decisions and to contribute to the development of Nigeria.

The dataset

The project uses state-level socio-economic data for different sectors obtained from the public domain. The datasets were obtained from official reports by different government agencies and international organizations. These include documents published by the National Bureau of Statistics (of Nigeria), National Demographic and Health Surveys, National Statistical Abstracts, and more. The data were first extracted from the reports into an MS Excel document, and then converted to a javascript object notation (JSON) format. ESRI shapefiles of the boundaries of the different states were converted to a GeoJSON format using a plugin for QGIS called QGIS2web.

Visualization technique

The project used the free javascript web mapping library leaflet to create the choropleth map, mapbox for the base map, and the free javascript charting library charts.js to build the charts that display the summary indicators across the different geo-political zones within Nigeria. The projects also used other javascript codes to ensure that the map automatically updates itself whenever a new indicator is selected.  Additional controls have been included to show/hide the base map, show/hide labels on the map, and to reduce the opacity of the choropleth.

The output

By default, the controls are set to show the base map, show the labels, and the opacity is set to 1, respectively. The value of any indicator will be shown with the labels of the names of the states if the label control is checked. The values will also be shown as a popup as well as in the information box at the top-right hand corner of the map area when the user hovers the mouse over any state. The data source for the selected indicator is placed at the bottom of the choropleth. For the summary segment, we used bar charts and pie charts to represent the summary depending on which chart type is most suitable.


Lessons and other considerations

Our expectation is that Nigerians will constitute a majority of the users of the platform. However, because a large percentage of the Nigerians rely mainly on mobile data for internet connection and use mobile devices to access the internet, we elected to make the platform as simple and light as possible to cater to this group of persons. This was done by choosing leaflet over other mapping libraries and by excluding animations. Secondly, as Nigeria is gradually pursuing an open data agenda, we will be updating the platform regularly as more state-level socio-economic indicators become available. We are also considering developing a progressive web app from the platform.

Explore the Choropleth Maps of Nigeria here.

About the author


Uduak Akpan is an open data enthusiast and presently leads a startup in Nigeria (SPIDER Solutions Nigeria) with interest in promoting open data, socio-economic research, and the application of geographic information systems (GIS) to solve practical problems in developing countries.