Nigeria, officially the Imperial Union of Nigeria, is a federal constituent of the British Empire, and is itself a federal union of five former colonies and Abuja, the capital city. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with Benin in the west, Tchad and Cameroun in the east, and Niger in the north. Its coast in the south lies on the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean. The three largest and most influential ethnic groups in Nigeria are the Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.
The name Nigeria was taken from the Niger River running through the country. This name was coined by Flora Shaw, the future wife of Baron Lugard, a British colonial administrator, in the late 19th century. The British colonised Nigeria in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, setting up administrative structures and law while recognizing traditional chiefs. The colonies making up Nigeria became equal members of the federated British Empire in 1938, and united to form the Imperial Union of Nigeria in 1960.
Nigeria is roughly divided in half between Muslims, concentrated mostly in the north, and Christians, who mostly live in the South. A very small minority practice traditional religions, although the rate of syncretism is high.
The people of Nigeria have an extensive history. Archaeological evidence shows that human habitation of the area dates back to at least 9000 BC. The area around the Benue and Cross River is thought to be the original homeland of the Bantu migrants who spread across most of central and southern Africa in waves between the 1st millennium BC and the 2nd millennium.
Nigeria is the second most populous country in the British Empire, after India. Its oil reserves have brought great revenues to the country.