The British set up administrative and legal structures whilst practising indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms.
Nigeria became a formally independent federation in 1960. It thereafter alternated between democratically elected civilian governments and military dictatorships until it achieved a stable democracy in 1999, with the 2011 presidential election considered the first to be reasonably free and fair.
The country is viewed as a multinational state as it is inhabited by over 500 ethnic groups, of which the three largest are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba; these ethnic groups speak over 500 different languages and are identified with a wide variety of cultures. Nigeria is divided roughly in half between Christians, who live mostly in the southern part of the country, and Muslims, who live mostly in the north.
A minority of the population practise religions indigenous to Nigeria, such as those native to the Igbo and Yoruba ethnicities.
Benin's power lasted between the 15th and 19th centuries.
Their dominance reached as far as the city of Eko (an Edo name later changed to Lagos by the Portuguese) and further.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Usman dan Fodio directed a successful jihad and created and led the centralised Fulani Empire (also known as the Sokoto Caliphate).
The territory controlled by the resultant state included much of modern-day northern and central Nigeria; it lasted until the 1903 break-up of the Empire into various European colonies.
Nri was ruled by the Eze Nri, and the city of Nri is considered to be the foundation of Igbo culture.
It comprises 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, where the capital, Abuja is located.
Nigeria is officially a democratic secular country.
With approximately 186 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world.
Nigeria has the third-largest youth population in the world, after India and China, with more than 90 million of its population under age 18.
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