The Info List - Yorubaland

Monarchies • Oba (King) • Ògbóni (Legislature) • Olóye (Chiefs) • Balógun (Generalissimo) • Baálẹ̀ (Village/Regional heads in Western Yorubaland) • Ọlọja (Village/Regional heads in Eastern Yorubaland)


 • Total 142,114 km2 (54,871 sq mi)

Highest elevation 1,055 m (3,461 ft)

Lowest elevation -0.2 m (-0.7 ft)

Population (2015 estimate)

 • Total ~ 55 million

 • Density 387/km2 (1,000/sq mi)

  In Nigeria, Benin
and Togo


 • Language Yoruba • English • French

 • Religion Christianity Islam Yoruba religion

Time zone WAT (Nigeria, Benin), GMT

(Yoruba: Ilè Yorùbá) is the cultural region of the Yoruba people
Yoruba people
in West Africa. It spans the modern day countries of Nigeria, Togo
and Benin, and covers a total land area of 142,114 km2 or about the same size as the combined land areas of Greece and Montenegro, of which 106,016 km2, representing about 74.6% within Nigeria, 18.9% in Benin, and the remaining 6.5% in Togo. The geocultural space contains an estimated 55 million people, the overwhelming majority of this population being ethnic Yorubas. About 5.3 million people are estimated to practice the Yoruba religion worldwide[1], with the largest number of practitioners being found in Nigeria.[2]


1 Geography

1.1 Vegetation and climate

2 Administrative divisions 3 Prehistory and oral tradition

3.1 Settlement 3.2 Pre-Civil War

4 History

4.1 Government 4.2 Civil War 4.3 European colonization of the Yoruba

5 Demographics 6 References

Geography[edit] Geophysically, Yorubaland
spreads north from the Gulf of Guinea
Gulf of Guinea
and west from the Niger River
Niger River
into Benin
and Togo; In the northern section, Yorubaland
begins in the suburbs just west of Lokoja
and continues unbroken up to the Ogou
tributary of the Mono River in Togo, a distance of around 610 km. In the south, it begins in an area just west of the Benin
river occupied by the Ilaje
Yorubas and continues uninterrupted up to Porto Novo, a total distance of about 270 km as the crow flies. West of Porto Novo
Porto Novo
Gbe speakers begin to predominate. The northern section is thus more expansive than the southern coastal section. The land is characterised by mangrove forests, estuaries and coastal plains in the south, which rise steadily northwards into rolling hills and a jagged highland region in the interior, commonly known as the Yorubaland
plateau or Western upland. The highlands are pronounced in the Ekiti area of the region, especially around the Effon ridge and the Okemesi fold belt, which have heights in excess of 732m (2,400 ft) and are characterized by numerous waterfalls and springs such as Olumirin waterfall, Arinta waterfall, and Effon waterfall.[3][4] The highest elevation is found at the Idanre Inselberg
Hills, which have heights in excess of 1,050 meters. In general, the landscape of the interior is undulating land with occasional inselbergs jutting out dramatically from the surrounding rolling landscape. Some include: Okeagbe hills: 790m, Olosunta in Ikere Ekiti: 690m, Shaki inselbergs, and Igbeti
hill. With coastal plains, southern lowlands, and interior highlands, Yorubaland
has several large rivers and streams that crisscross the terrain.[3] These rivers flow in two general directions within the Yoruba country; southwards into the lagoons and creeks which empty into the Atlantic ocean, and northwards into the Niger
river. The Osun River which empties into the Lekki Lagoon, the Ogun River
Ogun River
which empties into the Lagos
Lagoon, Mono River, Oba River, Owena river, Erinle River, Yewa River which discharges into the Badagry creek, Okpara River which drains into the Porto-Novo lagoon, Ouémé River, Ero
river between Ekiti State
Ekiti State
and Kwara
State, among numerous others. Others such as the Moshi river, Oshin and Oyi
flow towards the Niger (north). The Nigerian part of Yorubaland
comprises today's Ọyọ, Ọṣun, Ogun, Kwara, Ondo, Ekiti, Lagos
as well as parts of Kogi
.[3] The Beninese portion consists of Ouémé department, Plateau Department, Collines Department, Tchaourou
commune of Borgou Department, Bassila commune of Donga Department, Ouinhi
and Zogbodomey
commune of Zou Department, and Kandi commune of Alibori Department. The Togolese portions are the Ogou
and Est-Mono
prefectures in Plateaux Region, and the Tchamba
prefecture in Centrale Region. Vegetation and climate[edit] The climate of Yorubaland
varies from North to South. The Southern, Central and Eastern portions of the territory is tropical high forest covered in thick verdant foliage and composed of many varieties of hardwood timber such as Milicia excelsa
Milicia excelsa
which is more commonly known locally as Iroko, Antiaris
africana, Terminalia superba
Terminalia superba
which is known locally as Afara, Entandrophragma
or Sapele, Lophira alata, Triplochiton scleroxylon
Triplochiton scleroxylon
(or Obeche), Khaya
grandifoliola (or African Mahogany) and Symphonia globulifera
Symphonia globulifera
amongst numerous other species. Some non-native species such as Tectona grandis
Tectona grandis
(Teak) and Gmelina arborea (Pulp wood) have been introduced into the ecosystem and are being extensively grown in several large forest plantations. The ecosystem here forms the major section of the Nigerian lowland forest region, the broadest forested section of Nigeria. The coastal section of this area features an area covered by swamp flats and dominated by such plants as mangroves and other stilt plants as well as palms, ferns and coconut trees on the beaches. This portion includes most of Ondo, Ekiti, Ogun, Osun, Lagos
states and is characterised by generally high levels of precipitation defined by a double maxima (peak period); March–July and September–November. Annual rainfall in Okitipupa, for example, is in excess of 2,000mm.[5] The area is the center of a thriving Cocoa, Natural rubber, Kola nut and Oil palm
Oil palm
production industry, as well as lucrative logging. Ondo, Ekiti and Osun states are the leading producers of cocoa in Nigeria,[6][7] while the southern portions of Ogun and Ondo states (Odigbo, Okitipupa
and Irele) play host to large plantations of oil palm and rubber. The northern and western portions of the region is characterized by tropical woodland savanna climate (Aw), with a single rainfall maxima. This area covers the Northern two-third of Oyo, Northwestern Ogun, Kwara, Kogi, Collines (Benin), Northern half of Plateau department (Benin) and Central Togo. Part of this region is derived savanna which was once covered in forest but has lost tree cover due to agricultural and other pressures on land. Annual rainfall here hovers between 1,100 and 1,500mm. Annual precipitation in Ilorin
for example is 1,220 mm.[8] Tree species here include the Blighia sapida
Blighia sapida
more commonly known as Ackee in English and Ishin in Yoruba, and Parkia biglobosa which is the locust bean tree used in making Iru or ogiri, a local cooking condiment. The monsoon (rainy period) in both climatic zones is followed by a drier season characterized by northwest trade winds that bring the harmattan (cold dust-laden windstorms) that blow from the Sahara. They normally affect all areas except a small portion of the southern coast. Nonetheless, it has been reported that the harmattan has reached as far as Lagos
in some years. Administrative divisions[edit]


Country  Nigeria

State Area (Km2) Regional Capital Largest City 2nd Largest City Map

Ekiti State 6,353 Ado Ekiti Ado Ekiti Ikere-Ekiti

State 9,351 Lokoja Kabba Isanlu

State 17,000 Ilorin Ilorin Offa

State 3,345 Ikeja Alimosho Ikorodu

Ogun State 16,762 Abeokuta Otta-Ijoko-Ifo Abeokuta

Ondo State 15,500 Akure Akure Ondo, Owo

Osun State 9,251 Oshogbo Oshogbo Ile-Ife, Ilesha

Oyo State 28,454 Ibadan Ibadan Ogbomosho

Area = 106,016 km2

Country  Benin

Department Area (Km2) Regional Capital Largest City 2nd Largest City

Borgu (Shaworo) 5,000 ____ Shaworo Papane

Collines 12,440 Savalou Shabe Idasa

Donga (Bassila) 5,661 ____ Bassila Manigri

Plateau 3,264 Sakete Pobe Ketu, Sakete

Weme 500 Porto Novo Porto Novo Adjarra

Area ≈ 26,865 km2

Country  Togo

Region Area (Km2) Regional Capital Largest City 2nd Largest City

Central (Chamba) 3,149 ____ Kambole Alejo

Plateaux 6,084 Atakpame Atakpame Anié, Morita

Area ≈ 9,233 km2 Yorubaland
Area ≈ 142,114 km2

Prehistory and oral tradition[edit] Settlement[edit] Oduduwa
is regarded as the legendary progenitor of the Yoruba, and almost every Yoruba settlement traces its origin to princes of Ile-Ife in Osun State, Nigeria. As such, Ife
can be regarded as the cultural and spiritual homeland of the Yoruba nation, both within and outside Nigeria. According to an Oyo account, Oduduwa
was a Yoruba emissary; said to have come from the east, sometimes understood by some sources as the "vicinity" true East on the Cardinal points, but more likely signifying the region of the Ekiti and Okun sub-communities in Yorubaland, Nigeria.[9] On the other hand, linguistic evidence seems to corroborate the fact that the eastern half of Yorubaland
was settled at an earlier time in history than the Western regions, as the Northwest and Southwest Yoruba dialects show more linguistic innovations than their Central and Eastern counterparts. Pre-Civil War[edit] Between 1100 and 1700, the Yoruba Kingdom of Ife
experienced a golden age, part of which was a sort of artistic and ideological renaissance.[citation needed] It was then surpassed by the Oyo Empire as the dominant Yoruba military and political power between 1700 and 1900. Yoruba people
Yoruba people
generally feel a deep sense of culture and tradition that unifies and helps identify them.[citation needed] There are sixteen established kingdoms, states that are said to have been descendants of Oduduwa
himself. The other sub-kingdoms and chiefdoms that exist are second order branches of the original sixteen kingdoms. There are various groups and subgroups in Yorubaland
based on the many distinct dialects of the Yoruba language, which although all mutually intelligible, have peculiar differences. The governments of these diverse people are quite intricate and each group and subgroup varies in their pattern of governance. In general, government begins at home with the immediate family. The next level is the extended family with its own head, an Olori-Ebi. A collection of distantly related extended families makes up a town. The individual chiefs that serve the towns as corporate entities, called Olóyès, are subject to the Baálès that rule over them. A collection of distantly related towns makes up a clan. A separate group of Oloyes are subject to the Oba that rules over an individual clan, and this Oba may himself be subject to another Oba, depending on the grade of the Obaship.

In this, government begins at home. The father of the family is considered the "head" and his first wife is the mother of the house. If her husband chooses to marry another wife, that wife must show proper respect to the first wife even if the first wife is chronologically younger. Children are taught to have respect for all those who are older than they are. This includes their parents, aunts, uncles, elder siblings, and cousins who they deal with every day. ... Any adult presumably has as much authority over a child as the child's parents do. All members of a particular clan live in the same compound and share family resources, rights, and possessions such as land — Bascum 1969[10]


Ile Oòdua

Main article: Yoruba history Government[edit] Ife
was surpassed by the Oyo Empire
Oyo Empire
as the dominant Yoruba military and political power between 1600 CE and 1800 CE. The nearby kingdom of Benin
was also a powerful force between 1300 and 1850 CE. Most of the city states were controlled by Obas, priestly monarchs, and councils made up of Oloyes, recognised leaders of royal, noble and, often, even common descent, who joined them in ruling over the kingdoms through a series of guilds and sects. Different states saw differing ratios of power between the kingship and the chiefs' council. Some, such as Oyo, had powerful, autocratic monarchs with almost total control, while in others such as the Ijebu
city-states, the senatorial councils were supreme and the Ọba served as something of a figurehead. In all cases, however, Yoruba monarchs were subject to the continuing approval of their constituents as a matter of policy, and could be easily compelled to abdicate for demonstrating dictatorial tendencies or incompetence. The order to vacate the throne was usually communicated through an aroko or symbolic message, which usually took the form of parrot eggs delivered in a covered calabash bowl by the Ogboni senators. In most cases, the message would compel the Oba to take his own life, which he was bound by oath to do. Civil War[edit] Following a jihad (known as the Fulani
War) led by Uthman Dan Fodio (1754–1817) and a rapid consolidation of the Hausa city-states of contemporary northern Nigeria, the Fulani
Sokoto Caliphate
Sokoto Caliphate
annexed the buffer Nupe Kingdom
Nupe Kingdom
and began to press southwards towards the Oyo Empire. Shortly after, they overran the Yoruba city of Ilorin
and then sacked Ọyọ-Ile, the capital city of the Oyo Empire. Further attempts by the Sokoto Caliphate
Sokoto Caliphate
to expand southwards were checked by the Yoruba who had rallied to resist under the military leadership of the city-state of Ibadan, which rose from the old Oyo Empire, and of the Ijebu
city-states. However, the Oyo hegemony had been dealt a mortal blow. The other Yoruba city-states broke free of Oyo dominance, and subsequently became embroiled in a series of internecine wars, a period when millions of individuals were forcibly transported to the Americas
and the Caribbean, eventually ending up in such countries as Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Brazil, Haiti
and Venezuela, among others. European colonization of the Yoruba[edit] These wars weakened the Yoruba in their opposition to what was coming next; British military invasions. The military defeat at Imagbon of Ijebu
forces by the British colonial army in 1882 ensured a tentative European settlement in Lagos, one which was gradually expanded by protectorate treaties. These treaties proved decisive in the eventual annexation of the rest of Yorubaland
and, eventually, of southern Nigeria
and the Cameroons. In 1960, greater Yorubaland
was subsumed into the Federal Republic of Nigeria.[11]

According to Yoruba historians, by the time the British came to colonize and subjugate Yorubaland
first to itself and later to the Fulani
of Northern Nigeria, the Yoruba were getting ready to recover from what is popularly known as the Yoruba Civil War. One of the lessons of the internecine Yoruba wars was the opening of Yorubaland to Fulani
hegemony whose major interest was the imposition of sultanistic despotism on Old Oyo Ile and present-day Ilorin. The most visible consequence of this was the adding of almost one-fifth of Yorubaland
from Offa
to Old Oyo to Kabba to the then-Northern Nigeria of Lord Frederick Lugard
Frederick Lugard
and the subsequent subjugation of this portion of Yorubaland
under the control of Fulani

Demographics[edit] Yorubaland
is one of the most populated ethnic homelands in Africa. It is also highly urbanized, holding 40% of settlements in Nigeria
with over 100,000 people, although there is also a very large rural population like the rest of Africa. The regional population density is considerably high, at approximately 387 people in every square kilometer. This population density is not evenly distributed across the region, with values ranging from more than 140,000 people / Km2 in certain districts of Lagos
like Mushin, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, Shomolu, Agege
and Isale Eko - which are among the world's densest, to 42,000 people / Km2 in the urban city core of Ibadan. On a subregional level, the Ekiti, Osun, Southern and central Ogun, Porto Novo
Porto Novo
and suburbs, Ibadan
metro, Lagos, and the Akoko
area of northern Ondo state are the vicinities with the higher population densities. On the contrasting end of the spectrum, Ifelodun and Moro local government areas of central Kwara, with densities of about 80 people / Km2, Ijebu
east and Ogun Waterside
Ogun Waterside
local Government areas of eastern Ogun with densities of around 95 people / Km2, Atisbo
and Iwajowa LGAs in western Oyo (50 and 55 ppl/Km2), as well as central Benin
and Togolese Yorubaland
have the lowest densities. Typically, cities are laid out such that both the palace of the king or paramount chief and the central market are located in the city core. This area is immediately surrounded by the town itself, which is in turn surrounded by farmland and smaller villages. The larger settlements in Yorubaland
tend to be nucleated in nature, with very high densities surrounded by agricultural areas of low density. Cities grow from the inside out. By definition the nearer a part of town is to the city core, the older it is, with the palace and the central market in the very center of town being the oldest establishments and the foundation of the city itself. References[edit]

Yoruba portal

^ Every Culture Online ^ CIA World Factbook ^ a b c Defence Language Institute, Curriculum Development Division: Yoruba Culture Orientation, 2008 ^ http://olokuta.blogspot.ca/2012/10/taking-short-road-trip-through-oke-mesi.html ^ http://links.onlinenigeria.com/ondostateadv.asp?blurb=344 ^ http://www.fao.org/3/a-at586e.pdf ^ http://www.nigeriagalleria.com/Nigeria/States_Nigeria/Ondo_State.html ^ http://en.climate-data.org/location/538/ ^ Article: Oduduwa, The Ancestor Of The Crowned Yoruba Kings Archived February 5, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. ^ William R. Bascom:The Yoruba of Southwestern Nigeria, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1969. page 42. ISBN 0-03-081249-6 ^ Gat, Azar. "War in human civilization" Oxford University Press, 2006, pg 275. ^ Ishokan Yoruba Magazine, Volume III No. I, Page 7, 1996/1997

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