Benue State is one of the 36 States in Nigeria. It was carved out of the former Benue Plateau State in 1976. It is located on longitude 804’E and latitude 6030’E and 8010’N, in the Middle belt region of the country and one of the States that constitute the North Central geopolitical zone of Nigeria.
The State derives its name from River Benue, the second largest river in Nigeria. It shares boundaries with six States i.e. Nasarawa to the North Taraba to the East, Cross River to the South, Enugu and Ebony to the South and Kogi to the west. The State also shares a common boundary with the republic of Cameroon on the south East.
LAND AREA AND POPULATION:
The State has a land area of 34,059km2, with a population of 4,219,244 (2006 Census). Current estimates put the population at about 10 million people. Administratively the State is divided into 23 Local Government Areas with Makurdi as Capital.
Benue State experiences a typical tropical climate with two distinct seasons, the wet or rainy season and the dry season. The rainy or wet season lasts from April – October, with an annual rainfall range of 150 – 180mm. The dry season begins in November and ends in March/ April. The average annual temperature fluctuates between 230 and 350C. However, the Southern-eastern part of the State adjourning the Obudu-Cameroon Mountain range, has a cooler climate, approximating the climate at the Jos plateau.
PEOPLE AND CULTURE :
The State has two major ethnic groups namely Tiv and Idoma. Other ethnic groups include Igede, Etulo, Ufia, Jukun, Hausa, Akweya, Abakpa and Nyifon. The predominant religion among the people is Christianity. Other forms of religions practiced in the State are Islam and traditional religion. About 75% live in the rural area and the main occupation is farming.
The rich cultural heritage of the people finds expression in colorful textiles, festivals, masquerades, Music and dances. Some of the dances which have won local and international acclaim include swange, Ingyough, Anger, Anchonokupa of Tiv and Anuwawowo of the Idoma.
The States major cultural festivals are the kwagh-hir-a combination of dance, masquerade and puppet theatre, the Alekwu ancestral festival, Igede Agba new yam festival, and the Aketa fishing festival. Benue people generally are known for their hospitality and friendly disposition, especially to visitors. The people relish the pounded yam with bush meat (grass cutter/antelope, genger and okoho) cuisine.