Sukur cultural landscape on a landmark map (nigeria)


Sukur is an amazing village whose inhabitants live according to old traditions. Here, in one locality, such incompatible concepts such as the past and the present, the dead and the living, wildlife and cultural heritage intertwine into a single whole. In 1999, UNESCO assigned this area the status of a World Heritage Site.

The cultural landscape of Sukur includes: a complex of structures located on the top of the hill, which is called the hidi (leader) palace, it rises above the villages located down the slope of the field in the form of terraces on which local people grow peanuts or beans, sacred symbols and ritual burials, as well as numerous traces of past successful mining activities. All these elements clearly convey the spiritual and material culture of the local community.

Tourist convenience is practically undeveloped here: rusty signs indicate the way to the main attractions, and at the foot of the hill you will be greeted by simple huts.

Location: Nigeria, Sukur

Coordinates: N 10.74055600, east 13.57166700

History and cultural significance

Sukur is located in the state of Adamawa in northeastern Nigeria, near the border with Cameroon. The distance to Yola, the capital of the state of Adamawa is about 290 km, to the north of Sukur Maiduguri (the capital of the state of Borno) - 120 km. The location of Sukura is a plateau in the mountains of Mandara. The settlement is located at an altitude of 1045 m above sea level. The total area of ​​the World Heritage Site is 1942.5 ha, of which 764.4 ha are the central zone and 1178.1 ha are the buffer zone.

The permanent population of Sukur is about 200 people, however, starting in 2013, an influx of refugees from neighboring low-lying regions related to religious terror began in these places.

History and cultural significance edit |Sukur Cultural Landscape - Potential Landmark of Nigeria

Today, the world has become a global village and different world federations try to develop different tourist attractions in different countries. Keeping this idea in mind, UNESCO has chosen Sukar Cultural Landscape as a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is located in the Northeastern part of Nigeria. Nigeria has a unique position in Africa because of its unique tourist attractions but Sukar Cultural Landscape was selected because of its unique structured palace, beautiful villages and terraced fields etc. Every year several tourists try to get flights to Lagos, Nigeria to step in to such a unique cultural landscape.

UNESCO included Sukar cultural Landscape in the list of world heritage site in 1999. By visiting this place physically, you would come to know the critical stage in human settlement and its relationship with its environment that’s why the Citation calls this site an exceptional landscape. Cultural Landscape of Sukur is witness of continuing spiritual and cultural traditions that are being tolerated for many centuries. It is located on the Mandara Mountains so apart from the historical information you can also enjoy the inclined land with its grassy soil.

Sukur is quite different from other World Heritage sites in that it is not as much recognized, throughout the world, as other sites are. Its recognition is far behind its instant area. This site is being developed with the passage of time to introduce Sukur to all over the world by collecting as much information as available in records and publications. Data composed by Nic David and Judy Sterner in the background of the Mandara Archaeological Project and data from Sukur themselves can also be useful in developing the Sukar Cultural Landscape.

This site has survived to be demolished from several centuries and still it looks the same as if it were built a few days ago. If you are history lover then this is the perfect place for you from where you can learn a lot about the culture and traditions of the country.

A proposal to make it famous worldwide

As it is mentioned above that Sukar Cultural Landscape is not as much popular as other UNESCO World Heritage Sites are so, to make it famous among international tourists there should be a proper plan for its marketing. Nigerian Government should start some new projects with collaboration of different world recognized federations for the development of cultural heritage. For that, Government can make it a park that should fulfill international standards. For that, they should bring some wild animals to enhance the interest of tourists. However, zoo cannot be called safari park but still it does not appropriately fulfill the needs of a wild life lover. Government can also make a museum over there to depict the real culture and history of the region.

Paysage culturel de sukur

Le paysage culturel de Sukur - avec le palais du Hidi (chef) sur une colline dominant les villages en contrebas, ses champs en terrasses et leurs symboles sacrés, ainsi que les vestiges omniprésents de l'ancienne industrie florissante du fer - reflète fidèlement soc qui l'a créé il ya des siècles et sa culture spirituelle et matérielle.

Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

منظر سوكور الثقافي

تعكس طبيعة سوكور الثقافية مع قصر هيدي (القائد) الذي يقع على تلة تطلّ على القرى في الاسفل، ومع حقولها المسطحة ورموزها المقدسة بالاضافة الى الآثار الموجودة في كل مكان لصناعة الحديد القديمة المزدهرة، المجتمع الذي أنشأها منذ قرون عديدة بامتياز وبثقافته الروحية والمادية.

source: UNESCO / ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

source: UNESCO / ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Cultural landscape of Sukur

The cultural landscape of Sukur includes the hidi (leader) palace on the hill, dominating the lower villages, terraced fields, sacred symbols, as well as numerous traces of successful iron making in the past. All this is vivid evidence of the spiritual and material culture of the local community.

source: UNESCO / ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Paisaje cultural de sukur

El palacio del hidi (jefe) erigido en posición dominante en lo alto de una colina, las aldeas circundantes, los cultivos en terrazas y sus símbolos sagrados, y los vestigios omnipresentes de la floreciente actividad siderúrgica de antaisajeogenic viva expresión intacta de la cultura material y espiritual de la sociedad que lo creó siglos atrás.

source: UNESCO / ERI
Description is available under license CC-BY-SA IGO 3.0

Cultuurlandschap van sukur

Het cultuurlandschap van Sukur bevat het Paleis van de Hidi (Opperhoofd), dat van grote politieke en religieuze betekenis is voor de bevolking van Sukur. Het paleis ligt op een heuvel en domineert de dorpen die zich daaronder bevinden. Naast het paleis herbergt Sukur terrasvormige velden en hun heilige symbolen en de uitgebreide overblijfselen van een voormalig bloeiende ijzerindustrie. Het cultuurlandschap is een opmerkelijk intact gebleven uiting van een samenleving en haar geestelijke en materiële cultuur. Sukur is gedurende vele eeuwen ongewijzigd gebleven. Daarmee is het een bewijs van een sterke culturele traditie die vele eeuwen heeft doorstaan.

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Outstanding universal value

Brief synthesis

Sukur is located in Madagali local government area of ​​Adamawa state of Nigeria along Nigeria / Cameroon border, some 290 km from Yola, the Adamawa state capital of north eastern Nigeria. It is a hilltop settlement which stood at an elevation of 1045 m. The total land area covered by the site is 1942.50 ha with core zone having 764.40 ha and the buffer zone 1178.10 ha respectively. Sukur is an ancient settlement with a recorded history of iron smelting technology, flourishing trade, and strong political institution dating back to the 16 t h century.

The landscape is characterized by terraces on the farmlands, dry stone structures and stone paved walkways. The terraced landscape at Sukur with its hierarchical structure and combination of intensive and extensive farming is remarkable. In addition, it has certain exceptional features that are not to be found elsewhere, notably the use of paved tracks and the spiritual content of the terraces, with their ritual features such as sacred trees.

The revered position of the Hidi as the political and spiritual head of the community is underscored by the magnificent dry stone architectural work of his palace, in and around which is a concentration of shrines, some ceramic. The villages located on low lying ground below the Hidi Palace have their own characteristic indigenous architecture. Among its features are dry stone walls, used as social markers and defensive enclosures, sunken animal (principally bull) pens, granaries, and threshing floors. Groups of mud walled thatched roofed houses are integrated by low stone walls. Of considerable social and economic importance are the wells. These are below-ground structures surmounted by conical stone structures and surrounded by an enclosure wall. Within the compound are pens where domestic animals such as cattle and sheep are fattened, either for consumption by the family or for use as prestige and status symbols used in gift and marriage exchanges.

The remains of many disused iron-smelting furnacescan still be found. These shaft-type furnaces, blown with bellows, were usually sited close to the houses of their owners. Iron production involved complex socio-economic relationships and there was a significant ritual associated with it.

Criterion (iii): Sukur is an exceptional landscape that graphically illustrates a form of land-use that marks a critical stage in human settlement and its relationship with its environment.

Criterion (v): The cultural landscape of Sukur has survived unchanged for many centuries, and continues to do so at a period when this form of traditional human settlement is under threat in many parts of the world.

Criterion (vi): The cultural landscape of Sukur is eloquent testimony to a strong and continuing spiritual and cultural tradition that has endured for many centuries.


The boundary contains all the key elements of the cultural landscape.

The traditional terraced system of agriculture and its associated ritual systems are still flourishing. However, the traditional buildings are vulnerable to changes in materials and techniques - particularly the thatched roofs that require frequent maintenance.


The key features of the cultural landscape have not been significantly modified since they were laid down. The way in which they have been maintained since that time has been in traditional form using traditional materials and techniques.

The cultural components are still actively present among the community since they are part of their living culture. The stone structures in form of houses, farm terraces and walkways still remain the most distinctive feature of Sukur landscape. The regular observance of festivals and ceremonies are evidence of cultural continuity. These events have become more attractive due to the involvement of local and state governments.

Protection and management requirements

The Sukur Cultural Landscape is a National Monument as determined by the Joint Instrument of Federal Decree No. 77 of 1979 (now NCMM ACT, Cap 242 of 2000) and the subsequent legal authority of the Adamawa State Government as in Gazette No. 47 Vol. 7 of 20 November 1997, and the written consent of the Hidi-in-Council.

In 1998, the Madagali Local Government, the Sukur Development Association, the State Council for Arts and Culture, and Adamawa State Government have agreed to work with the National Commission for Museums and Monuments towards the development of a sustainable preservation and cultural education program.

In February 2010, the Minister of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation inaugurated a Management Committee. Integrating customary law and Nigeria’s decree No. 77 of 1979, the Site Management Plan for the period 2006-2011 is being used by the Committee as the guiding principle for site conservation, management and protection.

Since inscription in 1999, all physical remains have been properly conserved by the National Commission for Museums and Monuments in collaboration with Sukur community. Annual restoration work has been carried out using traditional construction materials. Along with shrines and other sacred places, the Hidi Palace Complex is properly maintained because they are currently in use.

Domestic farmlands are continually being expanded with the creation of stepped level benches adapted to hill farming. The age long tradition of communal labor is still used to maintain paved walkways, gates, graveyards, homesteads and house compounds.