History of Anambra State

Last updated on June 15th, 2023 at 07:20 pm


Anambra is one of the 36 states in Nigeria with its capital in Awka. Nicknamed the “Light of the Nation”, Anambra is located in the southeastern part of the country.

The old Anambra state was created on February 3, 1976, by the military regime of Gen. Murtala Muhammed while the new Anambra was created on the 27th of August 1991. Anambra has 21 council areas.

It is one of the 11 states in Nigeria that attracted foreign investments in 2020. It is the business hub of the southeast region and has produced numerous successful businessmen and women.


Anambra shares boundaries with Enugu State (to the east), Delta State (to the west), Kogi State (to the north), Imo State, and Rivers State (to the south).

Anambra got her name from the Anambra River (Omambala) which flows through the region and is a tributary of the famous River Niger.

The State is dominated by the Igbo ethnic group – which consists of over 97% of the population.

With a population that is above 4 million, Anambra State is one of the most populated states in the country.

Natural Resources

Indeed, Anambra is blessed with various natural resources, including natural gas, crude oil and bauxite.

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Additionally, Anambra has good soil for agricultural activities, and the state has land cultivated for pasturing and animal husbandry.

Little wonder why many believe the State has the lowest poverty rate in the country.


Anambra State values learning and excels in terms of education. It has a Federal University – the Nnamdi Azikiwe University (UNIZIK) located in Awka, with a College of Medicine located at Nnewi.

There is also a State University – The Anambra State University (that used to be Anambra State University of Science and Technology)

Therefore, the literacy rate in Anambra is better than that of various other states in the country. In fact, there are claims that primary and secondary school enrollment in Anambra State is one of the highest in Nigeria.


The State has a rich history, that extends to the 9th century AD. There were discoveries of superb works of art in iron, bronze and copper, that belong to the ancient Kingdom of Nri; which showed their impressive divine Kingship administrative system.

In some towns, local families had hereditary rights to kingship for years – and even the colonial masters recognised some of these traditional kings during their time in Nigeria.

The British colonialists appointed some leaders as Warrant Chiefs, giving them the authority to collect taxes.

The state is in the region dominated by the Igbo ethnic group.

Old Anambra State was created in 1976 from part of East Central State. Then, the capital was Enugu, before Enugu became a State on its own in 1991. Thus, the capital of Anambra was moved to Awka.

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Cities And Administrative Divisions

Every year, Anambra sees a population growth rate of about 2.5%. According to statistics, 60% of those living in the State are staying in urban areas. Thus, it is regarded as one of the most urbanized states in the country.

Although there are various urban centres in the State, the duo of Awka and Onitsha stands out. These two towns grew as pre-colonial urban centres.

While Awka, which is the current capital of the State, was the craft industrial place of the Nri hegemony, Onitsha on it part developed as a river port and commercial centre.

Of course, we can’t ignore Nnewi in this discourse. This town is a developing industrial and commercial centre and is sometimes fondly called the Taiwan of Nigeria.

Notable People from Anambra

There are a lot of successful and prominent people in Nigeria that are from Anambra State. In fact, the impact of many of her sons and daughters is being felt all over the world.

Some of her notable individuals include:

  • Nnamdi Azikiwe Owelle of Onitsha – the first President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
  • Dr. Alex Ifeanyichukwu Ekwueme. The first executive Vice-President of Nigeria, serving 1979 – 1983.
  • Nwafor Orizu. The first Senate President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
  • Prof. Charles Soludo, a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and one of the candidates in the 2021 Anambra governorship election
  • Dim Emeka Ojukwu. The leader of the secessionist Biafra Republic;
  • Dr. senator Chuba Wilberforce Okadigbo (December 17, 1941 – September 25, 2003) – a former President of the Senate of Nigeria.
  • Professor Chinua Achebe. An accomplished author.
  • Emeka Offor.  Chairman of Chrome Group
  • Professor Uche Okeke, One of the foremost Nigerian fine artists, founder of the Uli movement.
  • Chuka Umunna, a British Labour Party Member of Parliament for Streatham constituency.
  • Professor Kenneth Dike, the first indigenous Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan and founder of the National Archives.
  • Amobi Okoye. The youngest American football player to play for the NFL (2004), currently is a free agent.
  • Chimamanda Adichie. A writer who won the Orange Prize for Fiction (2007) and a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (2008);
  • P.N. Okeke-Ojiudu. The first minister of agriculture in the Nigerian first republic.
  • Louis Odumegwu Ojukwu. First president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange;
  • Cyprian Ekwensi. A writer of international repute
  • Oscar N. Onyema. Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange and Chairman of Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS).
  • Philip Emeagwali. Winner of the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize for Supercomputing;
  • Azikiwe Peter Onwualu. The former Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC).
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