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The British set up administrative and legal structures whilst practising indirect rule through traditional chiefdoms.
Nigeria became a formally independent federation in 1960. It thereafter alternated between democratically elected civilian governments and military dictatorships until 1999, with the 2011 presidential election considered the first to be reasonably free and fair.
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.
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.
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.
Being the most populous country with high fertility rate, Nigeria has the third-largest youth population in the world, after India and China, with more than 90 million children under age 18.
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.