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Cities in the area became regional centres in a broad network of trade routes that spanned western, central and northern Africa.
In the 16th century, Spanish and Portuguese explorers were the first Europeans to begin significant, direct trade with peoples of modern-day Nigeria, at the port they named Lagos and in Calabar.
However, it currently has a "low" Human Development Index, ranking 152nd in the world.
Nigeria is a member of the MINT group of countries, which are widely seen as the globe's next "BRIC-like" economies.
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.
With 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.
This name was coined in the late 19th century by British journalist Flora Shaw, who later married Lord Lugard, a British colonial administrator.Nri was ruled by the Eze Nri, and the city of Nri is considered to be the foundation of Igbo culture.Nri and Aguleri, where the Igbo creation myth originates, are in the territory of the Umeuri clan.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).