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BAGS PACKED?: Try Enugu, Nigeria

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Residents in the District of Columbia have a very unique existence not experienced by many other residents in the United States by sharing the city with 176 nations that have diplomatic missions (embassies) inside the Beltway. Through these embassies, Washingtonians have an opportunity to learn a great deal about the numerous cultures in cities around the globe.

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One of those cities is Enugu, Nigeria, located in Enugu State.

Very few travelers manage to make their way to Enugu; but hopefully after reading the review, they'll remember to make the southeastern Nigerian city part of their international travels. The city is often overlooked by those who are unfamiliar with Nigeria; largely due to the civil unrest in the southern parts of Nigeria's northern region, and constant discussions of corruption by government officials. While there may sit more instability in the northern region, the beautiful city of Enugu manages to show westerns there is more to it than abandoned coal mines.

Enugu is the capital city of Enugu State and boasts a population of over 722,000, according to the 2006 Nigerian census, which makes it more populated than the District of Columbia; while Enugu State has an overall population of 3.7 million. There are many many things to do while visiting the area - from checking out the Awhum Waterfall and Cave to going to the Mup Waterfall and Sacred Grove.

Johnpaul Ezeani, Travel and Tourism Consultant to the Enugu State Tourism Board, remarks about the areas many opportunities for visitors.

"We have the Ezeagu Tourist Complex, which has a lake, a waterfall and a cave," he said, "then,

we have the Ngwo Waterfall and Cave; along with the impressive Ozalla Lake where crocodiles can be guided out from the lake by the help of a chief priest."

A FEW OTHER MUST SEES

  • The Udi Hills is a good way to see a large amount of Enugu, the city.
  • The Polo Amusement Park, on Abakaliki Road, and has a Ferris wheel, train ride, and other actives for kids.
  • The Former Coal Mines of Onyeama and Okpara, just off of Ogui Road, gives its visitors a view of what led to the population explosion of the early 1900s in Enugu, the city and state.
  • The Enugu Zoo, north of New Berries Park, is a nice zoological and botanical garden. Plans for the current zoo was announced by Joe Mamel, then-Enugu State Commissioner of Culture and Tourism, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).
  • The National Museum, on Abbakaliki Road, is governed by the Federal Ministry of Culture and Tourism - National Commission for Museums and Monuments (NCMM), and presents a detailed history of the region through a wide array of traditional costumes, masks, and pots.
  • The Michael Okpara Square, located on Presidential Road; across the street for The Government House (House of the Assembly). The square has often been the spot for many historic events in Enugu. Most recently lawmakers met there to announce their support for Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan's re-election campain for 2015.
  • Enugu Golf Club, on Mount Street, is an 18-hole oasis for golf lovers, but keep in mind that the greens are brown - its still a lovely place to play. 12 of the 18 holes will actually be made green before the second quarter of 2014. This announcement was made by Ben Etiaba, The Captain of the Golf Section of the Enugu Sports Club at the Enugu Amateur Open Heineken/Dragon Golf Tournament in December 2013.

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It has an average temp of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit in its cooler months and the high 80s in the warmer months. Unfortunately for me, it was in the 90s when I arrived; and after leaving the District where it had just snowed seven inches, it was a drastic change.

As I arrived to Enugu, from Lagos, the plane touched down at Akanu Ibiam International Airport, the city's main airport that began renovations in 2009 to accommodate wide-bodied aircrafts. This offers a chance for more international flights to arrive to Enugu. A friend collected me at the airport after arriving and we quickly made our way from the airport to where I would be staying throughout the trip.

TRANSPORTATION

Taxis, mini-buses, and motorbike taxis (okada) are the main forms of public transportation, although the okada were banned in 2009 by the government; yet, they still clutter the streets. They also have unregistered taxis (Kabu Kabu) that are not painted yellow like registered taxis.

If you're looking to get around, trying going to the Ogbete Motor Park, or the Garki Motor Park - both are two major areas where you can go to negotiate for a reasonable fare to travel around.

SHOPPING

There are three main urban markets in Enugu: Ogbete Market, Awkunanaw Market and New Market. Ogbete Market is where you can find merchants from all over the region selling non-food goods. Awkunanaw Market. New Market is where you can find garri being the primary product for sale.

HISTORY

The city's unique foundation comes from a joining of two Igbo words "enu" (top) and "Ugwu" (hill), and is overwhelmingly filled with the Igbo ethnic group. It originally was called Enugu Coal Camp, and then, Enugwu Ngwo, before it was eventually shortened to Enugu. Some people call it "Igboland" because the Igbos make up one of the three largest ethnic groups in Nigeria.

You'll even hear people refer to at Coal Town or Coal City, due to the discovery of coal deposits thar was mined during it's British colonization period. This led to a population swell with settlements around the foot of the hills and as the population grew, the city expanded into the areas of other indigenous inhabitants. The city was called before it was changed to just Enugu.

Enugu was previously the capital of the Eastern Region after Nigeria’s independence from the British, in 1960. Before that, the area was part of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate founded in 1900 established by the British Empire. It has the unique distinction of being one very few "cities" in West Africa to be created through European contact.

From 1967 to 1991 there was a series of territorial adjustments that eventually made the city the capital of Enugu State.

If you'd like to learn more about Enugu you can always reach out to Johnpaul Ezeani at

08063502100, or contact@enugustatetourismboard.com

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