History of Nigeria

Nigeria is officially called the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It comprises of 36 states with the Federal Capital Territory and operates a federal constitutional republic. It is one of the most populous countries of West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Niger in the north, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. In the South, its coast is along the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. The three largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa. The major religions practiced in Nigeria are Christian and Muslim. Although a very minority people still practice traditional religion.

The name Nigeria was taken from the Niger River running through the country and was coined by Flora Shaw the future wife of Baron Lugard a British colonial administrator in the late 19th century. Nigeria is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and it’s listed among the “Next Eleven” economies. Its economy is one of the fastest growing in the world, with the International Monetary Fund projecting a growth of 9% in 2008 and 8.3% in 2009 and further projects a growth of 8% in 2011. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, the seventh in the world and the most populous country in the world in which the majority of the population is black.

At the beginning of the 19th century under Usman Dan Fodio the Fulani led the centralized Fulani Empire which continued until 1903 when the Fulani population and land were divided into various European colonies. Between one to two-thirds of the population of the Fulani Jihad states consisted of slaves between 1750 and 1900. The Yoruba however believe that Ile-Ife is the source of the human settlement dates back to the ninth century. The Yoruba kingdom of Ife and Oyo in Southwestern Nigeria became prominent in the 12th and 14th century respectively. Oyo once extended from western Nigeria to Togo.

Benin Kingdom is located in southwestern Nigeria and its power lasted between the 15th and 19th century and their dominance reached as far as the city of Eko. An Edo name later changed to Lagos by the Portuguese. The history of the igbos can be traced back to the 10th century and can be traced back to the then Kingdom of Nri. It however lost its sovereignty to the British in 1911. It is the oldest kingdom in Nigeria. The city of Nri is considered to be the foundation of Igbo culture. Nri and Aguleri, where the Igbo creation myth originates, are in the territory of the Umeuri clan who trace their lineages back to the patriarchal king-figure Eri.

The first explorers to begin trade in Nigeria were the Spaniard and Portuguese in the port of Lagos and Calabar. The Europeans traded with the ethnicities of the coast and also negotiated a trade in slaves, the detriment and profit of many Nigerian ethnicities. Consequently many of the citizens of the former slave nations of the
British Empire is descended from a Nigerian ethnic group. Britain abolished its slave trade in 1807 and, following the Napoleonic Wars, established the West Africa Squadron in an attempt to halt the international traffic in slaves. In 1885, British claims to a West African sphere of influence received international recognition, and in the following year the Royal Niger Company was chartered under the leadership of Sir George Taubman Goldie. In 1900 the company’s territory came under the control of the British government, which moved to consolidate its hold over the area of modern Nigeria. On January 1, 1901, Nigeria became a British protectorate, part of the British Empire, the foremost world power at the time.

The Niger area in 1914 was formally united as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. Nigeria remained divided into the northern and southern provinces administratively and Lagos Colony. There was rapid development of western education and the development of a modern economy in the south than in the north.

In October 1, 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom and became a coalition of conservative parties, the Nigerian People’s Congress (NPC), a party dominated by Northerners and those of the Islamic Faith and the Igbo and Christian dominated National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) led by Nnamdi Azikwe who became Nigeria’s maiden Governor General in 1960. Action Group which was dominated by the Yoruba and led by Obafemi Awolowo formed opposition group.

Nigeria is located in western Africa on the Gulf of Guinea and has a total area of 923,768 km2 (356,669 sq mi), making it the world’s 32nd-largest country (after Tanzania). It is comparable in size to Venezuela, and is about twice the size of California. It shares a 4,047 kilometers (2,515 mi) border with Benin (773 km), Niger (1497 km), Chad (87 km), Cameroon (1690 km), and has a coastline of at least 853 km. Nigeria lies between latitudes 4° and 14°N, and longitudes 2° and 15°E.
The highest point in Nigeria is Chappal Waddi at 2,419 m (7,936 ft). The main rivers are the Niger and the Benue River which converge and empty into the Niger Delta, one of the world’s largest river deltas and the location of a large area of Central African Mangroves.
Nigeria is also an important center for biodiversity. It is widely believed that the areas surrounding Calabar, Cross River State, contain the world’s largest diversity of butterflies. The drill monkey is only found in the wild in Southeast Nigeria and neighboring Cameroon.

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