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Ethnicity and Nationalism - Essay Example

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Nigeria is a country whose history stretches beyond documentation, and whose people still have close bonds with their ancestral culture. After gaining independence from the United Kingdom, Nigeria experiences changes in its cultural landscape, and now the history, government and way of life of the Nigerian people all lend themselves to the idea of a newly formed nation-state, steeped in the remains of the civilisations of the past…
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Ethnicity and Nationalism
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Download file to see previous pages The definition of a nation is distinct from that of a country because it assumes that there is a cultural and historical bond between the people inhabiting a delineated territory. Not only must the citizens of a nation be bound together in terms of government and territory, but they must be united as one because of their cultural links. Nigeria can clearly be defined as a country, however the fragmentation of its culture, especially in recent history, calls its status as a nation into question.
The Federal Republic of Nigeria is located in Western Africa, bordering Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger. Its capital city is called Abuja; although its historic capital is Benin City, once called Edo during the years of the Kingdom of Benin. The country is located on the Atlantic Ocean and has benefited from this placement in terms of international trade; currently Nigeria boasts the highest population in all of Africa at more than 140 million people, and it has been hailed by economists as being one of the fastest growing economies in the world (Foreign and Commonwealth Office 2007). In the near future it stands to reason that Nigeria will stand out from other African countries as one of the most successful in terms of trade and finance.
Niger Nigeria is comprised of 36 individual states, plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which houses Abuja. See Figure 1 for a map and names of all Nigerian states. The FCT was created from former Niger, Nasarawa and Koji territories, and is located in the centre of the country (Falola 1999, pp.1-5). The environment is varied and encompasses savannah, rainforest and deserts; the country is home to what is believed to be the largest and most diverse selection of butterflies in the world, and the native Drill Monkey is only found wild in Nigeria and Cameroon. The Delta region of the country is used for oil drilling, an industry that is of particular importance to the Nigerian economy. The official language of Nigeria is English, however traditional languages like Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo are publicly recognised and regularly used by many citizens.
Nigeria is located in an ancient part of the world as far as human history is concerned, and archaeological evidence suggests that the area has been inhabited by people since at least 9000 BC. From its early cultural beginnings, the area that now encompasses Nigeria developed one of the most influential and powerful empires in Africa and the world: the Kingdom of Benin. From the 15th to the 19th century, the land which is now the Federal Republic of Nigeria as well as surrounding countries was all incorporated into the Kingdom of Benin, a vast kingdom that held influence over a large part of the African continent and whose cultural traditions still echo in that part of the world today. It was under the rule of the Kingdom of Benin that the modern Nigerian state evolved into one of the most economically viable African countries during the 16th and 17th centuries; this was due largely to the European slave trade and the fact that the Kingdom of Benin was both forceful and powerful in its dealings with neighbouring nations.
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