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Nigeria has been home to a number of kingdoms and tribal states over the millennia.
The modern state originated from British colonial rule beginning in the 19th century, and took its present territorial shape with the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914.
The word is likely an alteration of the Tuareg name egerew Further north, the cities Kano and Katsina have a recorded history dating to around 999 AD.
Hausa kingdoms and the Kanem-Bornu Empire prospered as trade posts between North and West Africa.
For centuries, various peoples in modern-day Nigeria traded overland with traders from North Africa.
Cities in the area became regional centres in a broad network of trade routes that spanned western, central and northern Africa.
Nri and Aguleri, where the Igbo creation myth originates, are in the territory of the Umeuri clan.
Members of the clan trace their lineages back to the patriarchal king-figure Eri.
Nigeria is a member of the MINT group of countries, which are widely seen as the globe's next "BRIC-like" economies.
It is also listed among the "Next Eleven" economies set to become among the biggest in the world.
Usually the captives were taken back to the conquerors' territory as forced labour; after time, they were sometimes acculturated and absorbed into the conquerors' society.
A number of slave routes were established throughout Nigeria linking the hinterland areas with the major coastal ports.
Benin's power lasted between the 15th and 19th centuries.