s hold over the area of modern Nigeria. On 1 January 1901, Nigeria became a British protectorate, part of the British Empire, the foremost world power at the time. The independent kingdoms of what later became Nigeria fought many wars against the British Empire in the late 19th and early 20th centuries trying to regain independence. By war the British conquered Benin in 1897, and in the Anglo-Aro War from 1901—1902 defeated other opponents. The restraint or complete destruction of these states opened up the Niger area to British rule.
In 1914, the British formally united the Niger area as the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria. Administratively, Nigeria remained divided into the northern and southern provinces and Lagos Colony. The people of the South, with more interaction with the British and other Europeans due to the coastal economy, adopted Western education and developed a modern economy more rapidly than in the north. Many of its elite's sons went to Great Britain for education. The regional differences continue to be expressed in Nigeria's political life as well. For instance, northern Nigeria did not outlaw slavery until 1936.
Following World War II, in response to the growth of Nigerian nationalism and demands for independence, successive constitutions legislated by the British government moved Nigeria toward self-government on a representative and increasingly federal basis. By the middle of the 20th century, the great wave for independence was sweeping across Africa. Nigeria became independent in 1960.
On 1 October 1960, Nigeria gained its independence from the United Kingdom. Nigeria's government was a coalition of conservative parties: the Nigerian People's Congress (NPC), a party dominated by Northerners and those of the Islamic faith; and the Igbo and Christian-dominated National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, who became Nigeria's maiden