South East Region Guide

South-eastern Nigeria was one of the initial 12 states created during the Nigerian Civil War, which later broke into the present Akwa Ibom State and Cross River State. South-east became the name of one of the six geo-political zones in the country in the 1990s consisting of Abia State, Anambra State, Ebonyi State, Enugu State and Imo State. The local language in this region is Igbo.

Before the British colonial government, South-eastern Nigeria was home to many ethnic groups such as the Igbo, Ijaw, Ibibo, and Efik. These groups mostly had democratic systems of government and several kingdoms, such as Nir Akwa Akpa (Calabar), Aro Confederacy and Opobo which were huge influences in the region.




Abia State – God’s Own State


Abia State occupies around 5,834km2, and is bordered on the north and north-east by Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi, to the east and south-east by Cross River and Akwa Ibom, to the south by Rivers and to the west by Imo. It has heavy rainfall of about 2,400mm per year between April to October, and the most important rivers in the state are the Imo and Aba rivers that flow into the Atlantic Ocean. The capital is Umuahia, although the major commercial activities happen in Aba.

In 1991 the State was created from Imo State, and it is one of the nine states of the Niger Delta region – an area well known to cover the oil producing states of the country. Abia is not just an oil producing state though; it also adds a rich agricultural importance to the economy of Nigeria with crops like yam, maize, potatoes, rice, cashew, plantain and cassava.

The closest airports to Abia State are Sam Mbakwe Cargo Airport Owerri, which is an hour’s drive away; Port Harcourt International Airport, two hours drive away; and Akwa Ibom Airport which is about 45 minutes drive away. Rail is another means of travel, but currently under revitalisation. The coastal parts of the state are equally accessible by boat or canoe.




Anambra State – Light of the Nation


The state’s name comes from ‘Oma Mbala’, the native name of the Anambra River. Its boundaries are formed by Imo and Rivers to the south, Delta State to the west, Enugu State to the east and Kogi State to the north.

The capital of the Anambra is Akwa but Onitsha and Nnewi are the largest commercial and industrial cities, respectively. The population of these cities is 98% Igbo and 2% Igala, who are mostly from the north-western part of the state. Anambra is rich in natural gas, crude oil and ceramics, and has almost completely arable soil.




Ebonyi State – Salt of the Nation


The capital of Ebonyi State is Abakaliki. The state was among the new additions made by the then Military Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha in 1996. Ebonyi is primarily agricultural and stands out as a leading producer of rice, yam, potatoes, maize, beans and cassava. Apart from agriculture, the state also has deposits of crude oil and natural gas.

There are nine major first languages spoken in Ebonyi State. These languages are all sub-groups of the Igbo language spoken by all Igbo people of south-eastern Nigeria.




Enugu State – Coal City State


Enugu is the capital city of Enugu State and is located in south-eastern Nigeria. The other major cities in the state are Udi and Nsukka. The state shares boundaries with Abia, Imo, Ebonyi, Benue, Kogi and Anambra.

Enugu is blessed with favourable climatic conditions all year round. Economically, the state is predominantly rural and agrarian, with a substantial proportion of it’s working population engaged in farming – although trading and services are also important. In the urban areas trading is the dominant occupation, followed by services.


Imo State – The Eastern Heartland (Land of Hope)




Imo State was created in 1976 under the leadership of the late military ruler General Murutala Muhammed, taking its name from the Imo River. Owerri is its capital and largest city. Part of Imo State split off in 1991 as Abia State, and another part became Ebonyi State. The major cities in Imo State are Owerri, Orlu and Okigwe.

Imo State covers an area of around 5,100km2. It is bordered by Abia State to the east, by the River Niger and Delta State to the west, by Anambra State to the north and Rivers State to the south.

The state is rich in natural resources including crude oil, natural gas, lead, zinc, iroko, mahogany, obeche, rubber trees and oil palms. The rainy season begins in April and lasts until October with annual rainfall varying from 1,500mm to 2,200mm. The dry season includes two months of Harmattan from late December to late February. The hottest months are between January and March.