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Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 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 of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. The three largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Hausa,Igbo and Yoruba.
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, a British colonial administrator, in the late 19th century. The British colonised Nigeria in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, setting up administrative structures and law while recognizing traditional chiefs. Nigeria became independent again in 1960. Several years later, it had civil war as Biafra tried to establish independence. Military governments in times of crisis have alternated with democratically elected governments.
Nigeria is roughly divided in half between Muslims, concentrated mostly in the north, and Christians, who mostly live in the South. A very small minority practice traditional religions, although the rate of syncretism is high. Since 2002 there have been a spate of clashes, particularly in the North of the country, between government forces and the Islamist group Boko Haram,militant jihadists who seek to establish sharia law.
The people of Nigeria have an extensive history. Archaeological evidence shows that human habitation of the area dates back to at least 9000 BC. 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 BC and the 2nd millennium.
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