Culture, History and Origin of Anambra State

Nuelson Penuel Wednesday, February 14, 2024 Basis



Nestled in the southeastern part of Nigeria, Anambra State is a vibrant and culturally diverse region that boasts a rich history and fascinating origins. From its early settlements to the present, this article delves into the historical timeline and heritage of Anambra State, unearthing the significant events and influential factors that have shaped its development.

Ancient Times and Pre-Colonial Era:

The earliest evidence of human habitation in the area now known as Anambra State dates back to as early as the 9th century AD. A number of ancient communities, including the Igbo-Ukwu, Nri Kingdom, and Aguleri, laid the foundation for the region's cultural and societal framework. These communities engaged in advanced metalworking, intricate artistry, and complex political systems, evidence of which can be found in the archaeological discoveries of the famous Igbo-Ukwu artifacts.

Nri Kingdom:

One of the most notable chapters in Anambra State's history is the Nri Kingdom, which thrived from the 10th century to the early 20th century. It was renowned for its sophisticated religious and political institutions, with the Eze Nri (King of Nri) serving as the spiritual leader of the Igbo people. The Nri Kingdom exerted a significant influence over neighboring communities, and its cultural practices and rituals continue to influence Igbo society today.

The Creation of Anambra State:

In the early years following Nigeria's independence from British colonial rule, the country was divided into different regions. Anambra State, as we know it today, was initially part of the Eastern Region. However, as Nigeria underwent several administrative changes, the state eventually emerged as a unique entity. On May 27, 1967, the Nigerian government, under the leadership of General Yakubu Gowon, implemented a state creation exercise. This exercise was aimed at redefining the administrative boundaries of the country by splitting the existing regions into smaller states for better governance and management. During the state creation exercise of 1967, the East Central State was formed, comprising the majority of the former Eastern Region. The new state incorporated areas that later became known as Anambra State. Awka, the town that now serves as the capital of Anambra State, was chosen as the capital city of the East Central State. Anambra State officially came into existence on February 3, 1976. The Nigerian military administration, led by General Murtala Ramat Mohammed, restructured the East Central State and carved out a separate state known as Anambra. This decision was part of a broader effort to ensure effective governance and regional representation by dividing larger states into more manageable units. The creation of Anambra State took into account various factors, including population size, geographical proximity, and cultural considerations. The region was densely populated and predominantly inhabited by the Igbo ethnic group, which played a significant role in the decision to establish Anambra State as a separate entity.

European Contact and Colonial Rule:

The arrival of Europeans in the 15th century altered the course of history in Anambra State. Portuguese explorers, including Rui de Sequeira and Afonso de Albuquerque, made contact with the coastal communities. Over time, European powers, particularly the British, established trading posts and mission stations along the Niger River, leading to an influx of missionaries and the spread of Christianity. During the colonial era, Anambra State was part of the Southern Nigeria Protectorate administered by the British colonial government. Missionary schools were established, providing education to the indigenous population and fostering the emergence of educated elites who played vital roles in the region's future development.


Anambra State is located between latitudes 6.2107° N and longitudes 7.0716° E. This positioning places it slightly above the equator, providing a tropical climate that contributes to the state's rich agricultural produce and diverse ecosystems. The unique geographical location of Anambra State makes it a prime destination for both local and international visitors.

Land Area:

Covering an approximate land area of 4,416 square kilometers (1,705 square miles), Anambra State is not among the largest states in Nigeria. However, what it lacks in size, it compensates for with its cultural significance, economic prowess, and tourist attractions. The land area of Anambra State is divided into several local government areas, including Awka North, Awka South, Anambra East, Anambra West, and many more.


According to the National Population Commission of Nigeria, the estimated population of Anambra State is approximately 5.5 million people. Please note that population figures can vary based on different sources and may change over time.

Natural Beauty and Landforms:

Despite its relatively small size, Anambra State boasts an impressive range of landforms and breathtaking natural beauty. The state is home to the Niger River, the largest river in Nigeria, which flows through its western border. The river provides a source of livelihood for fishing communities and adds to the picturesque landscapes of the state. Anambra State is also adorned with rolling hills, lush greenery, and fertile plains. These varying landscapes offer opportunities for agriculture, including the cultivation of crops such as yam, cassava, corn, and vegetables. The fertile soil combined with adequate rainfall contributes to Anambra State's reputation as the "food basket" of Nigeria.

Tourist Attractions:

Beyond its natural beauty and cultural significance, Anambra State offers a range of captivating tourist attractions. Nnamdi Azikiwe Mausoleum, located in Onitsha, is a memorial site dedicated to Nigeria's first president. The Ogbunike Caves attract visitors with their fascinating rock formations and historical significance. Visitors can also explore the scenic Ezu River for a peaceful and picturesque experience.

Cultural Significance and Heritage:

Anambra State is synonymous with cultural celebrations and traditions. The Igbo people, with their unique worldview, distinctive arts and crafts, and vibrant festivals, have contributed enormously to the state's cultural landscape. Notable festivals like the New Yam Festival (Iwa Ji), the Masquerade Festivals, and the Ofala Festival are celebrated with enthusiasm and draw visitors from far and wide. In addition to their cultural contributions, the people of Anambra State have excelled in various fields, including academia, business, politics, and entertainment. Many notable figures hail from the state, leaving indelible footprints both nationally and internationally.

Wrapping up:

Anambra State, with its deeply embedded historical roots, boasts a rich cultural heritage that reflects the resilience, creativity, and resourcefulness of its people. From its ancient communities to the present-day achievements, the state has emerged as a dynamic and prosperous region. Understanding the history and origins of Anambra State is key to appreciating the cultural fabric of this remarkable part of Nigeria.

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