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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 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.Nigeria is a founding member of the African Union and a member of many other international organizations, including the United Nations, the Commonwealth of Nations and OPEC.The name Nigeria was taken from the Niger River running through the country.With approximately 186 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa and the seventh most populous country in the world.
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Modern-day Nigeria has been the site of numerous kingdoms and tribal states over the millennia.
The modern state originated from British colonial rule beginning in the 19th century and the merging of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate in 1914.
The British set up administrative and legal structures whilst practising indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms.
Nigeria became a formally independent federation in 1960. It then alternated between democratically elected civilian governments and military dictatorships until it achieved a stable democracy in 1999, with the 2011 presidential elections considered the first to be reasonably free and fair.
, commonly referred to as Nigeria, is a federal republic in West Africa, bordering Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in the north.