The Mid-Western Region was a division of Nigeria from 1963 to 1991, from 1976 being known as the Bendel state. It was

formed in June 1963 from Benin and Delta provinces of the Western Region, and its capital was Benin City. It was renamed

a province in 1966, and in 1967 when the other provinces were split up into several states, it remained territorially

intact, becoming a state.

During the Nigerian Civil War, the Biafran forces invaded the new Mid-Western state, en route to Lagos, in an attempt

to force a quick end to the war. While under Biafran occupation, the state was declared as the “Republic of Benin” as

Nigerian forces were to retake the region. The republic collapsed a day after the declaration as Nigerian troops overtook

Benin City. In 1976 it lost Ughelli to the new Rivers state and was renamed Bendel. Edo State was formed on August 27, 1991

when Bendel State was split into  Edo and Delta States.



With Benin City as capital, the population of the entire state is approximately 4million. It is made up of three major

ethnic groups; namely the Binis, Esan and Afemai. However the State has a high presence of residents from across the

country  and the world because of its cosmopolitan tendencies. Benin City the capital has a history of being one of the foremost

destinations of Europeans during their exploration of Africa continent many centuries ago. Some of the flash points have

remained enviable tourists’ attraction for the state.



The main ethnic groups in Edo State are: Edos, Afemais, Esans, Owans and Akoko Edos. Virtually all the groups traced their

origin to Benin City hence the dialects of the groups vary with their distance from Benin City. The Bini speaking people

who occupy seven out of the 18 Local Government Areas of the state constitute 57.54% while others Esan (17.14%) Afemai

compirising of Etsako (12.19%), Owan (7.43%), and Akoko Edo (5.70%). However, the Igbira speaking communities exist in

Akoko Edo as well as Urhobos, Izons, Itsekiris communities in Ovia North East and South West Local Government Areas

especially in the borderlands. Also, Ika speaking communities exist in Igbanke in Orhionmwon LGA.

A lot of communities and indeed the ruling dynasties in all the clans trace their roots to the ancient kingdom of Benin.

Cultural similarities are in the areas of religious worships, folk-lore, dances, festivals, traditional modes of dressing,

arts and craft. The political pattern and behaviour are based on a situation where both the monarchial and republican

ideas flourished in an integrated manner. The colourful traditional festivals in the state manifest its rich cultural

heritage. Critical among these are the Igue and Ekaba festivals done among the Binis and Manhood initaition (age groups)

by the Etsako people. With an estimated population of 3,218, 332 made up of 1,640,461 males and 1, 577, 871 females and

a growth rate of 2.7% per annum (NPC, 2006), as well as a total landmass of 19,187 square kilometers, the state has a

population density of about 168 persons per square kilometers.