Kwara State was created on 27th May 1967 when the Federal Military Government of General Yakubu Gowon broke the four regions that then constituted the Federation of Nigeria into 12 states. At its creation, the state was made up of the former Ilorin and Kabba provinces of the then Northern Region and was initially named the West Central State but later changed to “Kwara”, a local name for the River Niger. The capital of the State is Ilorin. Kwara State has since 1976 reduced considerably in size as a result of further state creation exercises in Nigeria. On February 13, 1976, the Idah/Dekina part of the state was carved out and merged with a part of the then Benue/Plateau State to form Benue State.
On August 27, 1991, five local government areas, namely Oyi, Yagba, Okene, Okehi and Kogi were also excised to form part of a new state called Kogi, while a sixth, Borgu Local Government Area, was merged with Niger State.
Kwara State is generally acknowledged as the heart of tourism in Nigeria because of the variety, quality and potentials of its tourist attractions. These attractions include natural land features, fascinating sceneries, historic monuments and relics. Others include a galaxy of cultural festivals, comfortable tourists accommodation facilities and a warm and hospitable population. Important tourist attractions in Kwara State include Esie Museum, Owu Falls, Imoleboja Rock Shelter, Ogunjokoro, Kanji Lake National Parks among other attractions. There are many hotels in Kwara State chief of which, is the Kwara Hotel located in the heart of Ilorin and separate from area of business activities. Other hotels include Satellite Hotel, Bekandims, Yebumot Hotel, Circular Hotel and host of others as shown in the list of hotels.
Kwara State is located in the West-central area of Nigeria and lies in the region termed the Middle Belt of Nigeria. It is located in the forested savanna and enjoys moderate dry and wet seasons, with heavier rains failling in September and October. The derived guinea savanna grasslands dominate the Northern parts of the state while some parts of Southern Kwara falls within the rain forest agro-ecological zone of Nigeria. Parts of the state especially those surrounding Asa local government is low lying Nigerian basement complex of between 300-400 meters above sea level. In some of the forested savanna areas of the state, a native African savanna tree, the Prosopis africana can be found. The tree is heavily used for such purposes as handles for hoes, chewing stick to protect gum decay, etc.
Some of the rivers in the states are Rivers, Moro, Asa, Niger, Weru, Adere, Oshin
Important cities and towns
Ilorin, the state capital is also the largest city in the state, other major locations are Jebba, Pategi and Offa.
Kwara State is an heterogeneous state attracting different ethnic groups including the Yorubas, Nupes, Baribas, Fulanis and Hausas. The major ethnic group in the state are the Yorubas and their language is widely spoken across the state. Since the early 17th century when many Islamic scholars came to settle around present day Kwara State, in particular in Ilorin, Islam has gradually become the leading religion in the state. This dynamic was enhanced during the Fulani jihad of the 19th century when large portions of the savanna region of the state came under the control of emirs until a defeat in 1897.
Farming is the predominant occupation of residents of Kwara while some engage in craft activities such as weaving, blacksmithing, bricklaying, carpentry, welding, etc. Fishing is also prominent along the lower River Niger Basin. Major food crops produced in the state includes, cassava, yam, cocoyam, maize, millet, sorghum and rice. Sugar cane is planted along the River Niger flood plains. An agricultural development project was established in 1988 to encourage growth in food production through infrastructural development and supply of inputs. However, lack of adequate rural infrastructure especially in transport hinders a full realization of the agricultural potential of the state.
Commerce and Industry
Kwara State is a not leading industrial state in the country but over the years it has been able to attract a few government sponsored projects and also some private sectors ones: including a Dangote Group owned flour mill. The Jebba Paper Mill, Kwara Furniture Manufacturing Company, and a state owned publishing company are some of the major industries in the state. The state also has small scale ventures in the burnt brick industry, a gari processing industry and Okin biscuits. A small Scale Industrial Credit Scheme was established in the early 1990s to provide loans to businesspersons.
A federal government owned public university in Ilorin falls within the state's borders also is a state polytechnic and a College of Education.
Arts, tourism and culture
The state has many tourist and noteworthy geographical and archaeological attractions including the Esie stone images, Owu falls, wreckage of Mungo Park, Juju hills, and in the Kaiama district lies some portions of the Lake Kainji National Park.
The state has a cultural center in Ilorin under the control of the Kwara State Council for Arts and Culture.
There are sixteen Local Government Areas in the State. They are: