|Àlà na ḿbà ṇ́dị́ Ìgbò|
|Nickname(s): Biafra, The East|
|- Settled||~5000 BC|
|- Founding of Nri||~900 AD|
|- British Colony||1902|
|- In Nigeria||1914|
|• Type||Autonomous communities|
|• Total||16,000 sq mi (40,000 km2)|
|Highest elevation||3,300 ft (1,000 m)|
|Lowest elevation||0 ft (0 m)|
|Population (2006 estimate)|
|• Total||~ 30 million|
|• Density||1,000/sq mi (400/km2)|
|• Religion||Christianity, Odinani|
|Time zone||WAT (UTC+1)|
Igboland, or Southeastern Nigeria (Standard Igbo: Àlà Ị̀gbò) is a non-governmental cultural region and a linguistic area in Nigeria that is defined by the Igbo culture and Igbo language. It is primarily situated in the Niger Delta region of West Africa, where it meets the Atlantic Ocean to its south. It has lands on both sides of the lower Niger River although the larger chunk of the region is situated on the east of the river. The region is surrounded by a host of large rivers. Igboland's culture has been shaped by its rainforest climate. As it constitutes a large part of the south eastern part of Nigeria, it is often referred to as the 'The East' locally. The majority of the Igbo-speaking population in Igboland identify as ethnic Igbo.
The earliest found settlements in Igboland date back to 4,500 B.C in the central area where the majority of the Igbo-speaking population is believed to have migrated from. The northern Igbo Kingdom of Nri, which rose around the 10th century, is credited with the foundation of much of Igboland's culture, customs, and religious practices and is also the oldest existing monarchy in present-day Nigeria. In southern Igboland several groups developed of which the most notable was the Aro confederacy. Igboland was part of the Southern Nigeria colony of the British Empire and was amalgamated into modern day Nigeria in 1914 which gained its independence in 1960. Shortly afterward Igboland was involved in its biggest war during Biafra's movement for secession which eventually ended in 1970 when Igboland rejoined Nigeria.
Early settlement of Igboland dates back to 4,500 B.C based on early pottery work found in the Okigwe-Nsukka axis. Much of the Igbo population is believed to have migrated from a smaller area in this region moving on to birth several independent Igbo-speaking tribes, village-groups, kingdoms and states with varying Igbo dialects and cultures. Igboland before the modern period was politically fragmented. The northern Igbo Kingdom of Nri, rising around the 10th century, is credited with the foundation of much of Igboland's culture, customs, and religious practices and is also the oldest existing monarchy in present-day Nigeria.
A few other kingdoms were founded in Igboland after Nri either directly or indirectly as a result of it; the most powerful kingdom of these was the Aro Confederacy which rose in the Cross River region in the 17th century and declined after British colonisation in the early 20th century.
In southern Igboland several groups developed mostly independently of Nri influence; most of these groups followed a migration out of Isu communities in present day Imo State, although some communities, such as the Mbaise cluster of village groups, claim to be autochthonous.
Igbo trade routes of the early second millennium reached the cities of Mecca, Medina and Jeddah through a network of trade routes journeyed by middle men. There was evidence of beads that originated in India in the 9th century Igbo Ukwu burial sites in which thousands of glass beads were uncovered from the ruined remains of a nobleman's garments. The burial site was associated with the Nri Kingdom which began around the same century according to indigenous history.
The Niger coast near Igboland acted as a contact point between African middle men and European traders from the years 1434–1807, beginning with the Portuguese, then the Dutch and finally the British. Igboland was historically known as the Ibo(e), Ebo(e), and Heebo Country by early European explorers. Igboland was conquered by the British Empire after several decades of resistance on all fronts; some of the most famous of the resistance include the Ekumeku Movement, the Anglo-Aro War, and the Aba Women's Riots which was contributed to by women of different ethnic backgrounds in eastern Nigeria.
Following the independence of Nigeria from the United Kingdom in 1960, most of Igboland was included in its Eastern Region; this region later formed the core of the secessionist Republic of Biafra. The Republic of Biafra was defeated after three years of war by the federal government of Nigeria from 1967 to 1970 with military support from the United Kingdom (strategy and ammunition), Soviet Union (ammunition), the United Arab Republic (air force), as well as with support from other states around the world. The effects of Nigerian war strategies on Biafran civilians (most of whom were ethnic Igbo) remains a controversial topic. The movement for the sovereignty of Biafra has continued with a minority, most making up the MASSOB organisation.
Geography and biodiversity
Historically, Igboland has taken up a large part of southeastern Nigeria, mostly on the eastern side of the Niger River. It extends westward across the Niger to the regions of Aniocha, Ndokwa, Ukwuani, and Ika in present day Delta State and also minute parts of Edo State in Nigeria. Its eastern side is terminated by the Cross River, although micro-communities exist over on the other side of the river; its northernmost point enters the Savannah climate around Nsukka.
Bonny Island and Opobo are often included in the Igbo speaking region since the language of trade of the island and town is Igbo and since many inhabitants are ethnic Igbo. Through these ports, the Igbo speaking region reaches the Atlantic Ocean to its south, although both towns are geographically separated form the rest of Igboland by smaller Ijaw and Andoni speaking communities.
In Nigeria today, Igboland is roughly made up of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, and major parts of Delta and Rivers states. Small parts of Akwa Ibom, Benue, Cross River, Edo, and Kogi State make up the rest of Igboland. More than 30 million people inhabit Igboland and with a population density ranging from 1000 people per sq. mile in high density areas and 350 per sq. mile in low density areas it could be the densest area in Africa after the Nile Valley. Altogether Igboland has an area of some 15,800 to 16,000 square miles.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Igbo.|
- Igboland’s Culture and Language, Igboguide.org