The Igbo people (English: /bo/; also Ibo, formerly also Iboe, Ebo, Eboe, Eboans, Heebo; natively d gb [b] (About this sound listen)) are an ethnic group native to the present-day south-central and southeastern Nigeria. Geographically, the Igbo homeland is divided into two unequal sections by the Niger River an eastern (which is the larger of the two) and a western section. The Igbo people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa.
The Igbo language is divided into numerous regional dialects, and somewhat mutually intelligible with the larger "Igboid" cluster. The Igbo homeland straddles the lower Niger River, east and south of the Edoid and Idomoid groups, and west of the Ibibioid (Cross River) cluster.
In rural Nigeria, Igbo people work mostly as craftsmen, farmers and traders. The most important crop is the yam. Other staple crops include cassava and taro. The Igbos are also highly urbanized, with some of the largest metropolitan areas, cities and towns in Igboland being Onitsha, Enugu, Aba, Owerri, Orlu, Okigwe, Asaba, Awka, Nsukka, Nnewi, Umuahia, Abakaliki, Afikpo, Agbor and Arochukwu.
Before British colonial rule in the 20th century, the Igbo were a politically fragmented group, with a number of centralized chiefdoms such as Nri, Arochukwu, Agbor and Onitsha. Frederick Lugard introduced the Eze system of "Warrant Chiefs". Unaffected by the Islamic jihad sweeping Nigeria in the 19th century, they became overwhelmingly Christian under colonization. In the wake of decolonisation, the Igbo developed a strong sense of ethnic identity. During the Nigerian Civil War of 19671970 the Igbo territories seceded as the short-lived Republic of Biafra. MASSOB, a sectarian organization formed in 1999, continues a non-violent struggle for an independent Igbo state.
Small ethnic Igbo populations are found in Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, as well as outside Africa.