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Naturalistic terracotta, bronze heads and other artifacts dating as far back as the 10th Century show just how early the Yoruba developed an advanced civilization.Later, other Yoruba cities challenged Ife for supremacy, and Oyo became the most powerful West African kingdom in the 16th and 17th Centuries.The empire lasted for 1,000 years (until the 19th Century) despite challenges from the Hausa Fulani in the west and Jukun from the south. D., the Hausa were building similar states around Kano, Zaria, Daura, Katsina, and Gobir.However, unlike the Kanuri, no ruler among these states ever became powerful enough to impose his will over the others.The earliest occupants of Nigeria settled in the forest belt and in the Niger Delta region.Today there are estimated to be more than 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria.
Other groups include: Kanuri, Binis, Ibibio, Ijaw, Itsekiri, Efik, Nupe, Tiv, and Jukun.Benin: Benin developed into a major kingdom during the same period that Oyo was becoming dominant to the west.Although the people of Benin are primarily Edo, not Yoruba, they share with Ife and Oyo many of the same origins, and there is much evidence of cultural and artistic interchange between the kingdoms.These are just some of the spectacular sights and sensual delights awaiting the traveler to Nigeria. Its coastline, on the Gulf of Guinea, stretches 774 km (480 mi.).Nigeria has the largest population of any country in Africa (about 120 million), and the greatest diversity of cultures, ways of life, cities and terrain. Nigeria shares its international border of 4,470 km (2513 mi.) with four neighbors: Chad, Cameroon, Benin, and Niger.