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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.
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.
Benin's power lasted between the 15th and 19th centuries.
Their dominance reached as far as the city of Eko (an Edo name later changed to Lagos by the Portuguese) and further.
The Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people consolidated in the 10th century and continued until it lost its sovereignty to the British in 1911.
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.
Usually the captives were taken back to the conquerors' territory as forced labour; after time, they were sometimes acculturated and absorbed into the conquerors' society.
A number of slave routes were established throughout Nigeria linking the hinterland areas with the major coastal ports.
Nri and Aguleri, where the Igbo creation myth originates, are in the territory of the Umeuri clan.
Members of the clan trace their lineages back to the patriarchal king-figure Eri.