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Nigeria has three main environmental regions: savanna, tropical forests, and coastal wetlands.These environmental regions greatly affect the cultures of the people who live there.
Prior to their conquest by Europeans, these ethnic groups had separate and independent histories.
In a country with more than 250 individual tribal languages, English is the only language common to most people.
Unofficially, the country's second language is Hausa.
Prior to colonization, these languages were the unifying languages of the southwest and southeast, respectively, regardless of ethnicity.
However, since the coming of the British and the introduction of mission schools in southern Nigeria, English has become the language common to most people in the area.
The Niger and Benue Rivers come together in the center of the country, creating a "Y" that splits Nigeria into three separate sections.
In general, this "Y" marks the boundaries of the three major ethnic groups, with the Hausa in the north, the Yoruba in the southwest, and the Igbo in the southeast.
Though there is archaeological evidence that societies have been living in Nigeria for more than twenty-five hundred years, the borders of modern Nigeria were not created until the British consolidated their colonial power over the area in 1914.
The name Nigeria was suggested by British journalist Flora Shaw in the 1890s.
Today those who are not ethnic Yorubas or Igbos rarely speak Yoruba or Igbo.
Pidgin, a mix of African languages and English, also is common throughout southern Nigeria.
Politically, Nigeria is divided into thirty-six states.