Nigeria, officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising thirty-six states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf ofGuinea on the Atlantic Ocean. The three largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. In terms of religion Nigeria is roughly split half and half between Muslims and Christians with a very small minority who practice traditional religion.
The people of Nigeria have an extensive history. Archaeological evidence shows that human habitation of the area datesback to at least 9000 BCE. The area around the Benue and Cross River is thought to be the original homeland of the Bantu migrants who spread across most of central and southern Africa in waves between the 1st millennium BCE and the 2nd millennium.
The name Nigeria was taken from the Niger River running through the country. This name was coined by Flora Shaw, the future wife of Baron Lugard, aBritish colonial administrator, in the late 19th century.
Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, the eighth most populous country in the world, and the most populous country in the world in which the majority of the population is black. It is listed among the "Next Eleven" economies, and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The economy of Nigeria is one of the fastest growing in theworld, with the International Monetary Fund projecting a growth of 9% in 2008 and 8.3% in 2009. International Monetary Fund (IMF) has also announced that Nigeria is the third fastest growing economy in the world after China and India, as a result of the increase in the rate of growth of the nation’s economy from 6.9 per cent in 2009 to 7.4 per cent in 2010. It is the third largesteconomy in Africa, it is also the largest exporter of oil in Africa and is a regional power that is also the hegemon in West Africa.
The Nok people of central Nigeria produced the earliest terracotta sculptures found in the country. A Nok sculpture resident at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts portrays a sitting dignitary wearing a "Shepherds Crook" on the right armand a "hinged flail" on the left. These are symbols of authority associated with ancient Egyptian pharaohs and the god Osiris and suggests that an ancient Egyptian style of social structure, and perhaps religion, existed in the area of modern Nigeria during the late Pharonic period.
In the northern part of the country, Kano and Katsina has recorded history dating back to around 999. Hausakingdoms and the Kanem-Bornu Empire prospered as trade posts between North and West Africa. 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 1750 and 1900, between one to two-thirds of the population of the Fulani jihad statesconsisted of slaves.
The royal Bini mask, one of Nigeria's most recognized products
The Yoruba kingdoms of Ifẹ and Oyo in southwestern Nigeria became prominent in the 12th and 14th century respectively. However, Yoruba mythology states that Ile-Ife is the source of the human race and that it pre-dates any other civilization, although the oldest signs of human settlement dates back to theninth century. Ifẹ produced terracotta and bronze figures, and Ọyọ once extended from western Nigeria to Togo. The Kingdom of Benin is located in southwestern Nigeria. Benin's power lasted between the 15th and 19th century. Their dominance reached as far as the city of Eko (an Edo name later changed to Lagos by the Portuguese) and further.
The Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people started in the...