Zuma Rock – Abuja, Nigeria - Atlas Obscura

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Zuma Rock

Abuja, Nigeria

This igneous rock monolith towers above the surrounding landscape just outside the Nigerian capital. 

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Standing at about 300 meters (980 feet) above the ground, Zuma Rock is one of the highest and largest monoliths in the world. The natural monolith is located in the western part of Nigeria, near the capital city of Abuja.

The rock was found in the 15th century by the Zuba people of Niger State, who called it zumwa, which could translate to “a place of guinea fowls,” due to their abundance around the rock. The Zuba people settled around the rock and came to see it as a spiritual guide, making sacrifices to the rock to keep them safe from harm. Because the landmark offered a clear view of the surrounding landscape, it was also used as a defensive position from other invading tribes.

Zuma Rock is composed of igneous rock, specifically gabbro and granodiorite. The natural runoff of water has left the rock surface with a human-like facial feature imprinted on the rock, with features like, mouth, nose, and eyes. The rock tends to get alight with fire during the rainy season. Friction created moving rocks caused by the sliding slope of the rock and during this, the fire comes up.

It has become one of the most prominent landmarks in Nigeria, and since 1999 has been printed on the country’s 100 naira notes. Hiking up to the top of the rock takes about five hours.

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