Bayelsa State is one of the six states that make up Nigeria’s South South geopolitical zone. It has interstate boundaries with Rivers State to the west and northwest and Delta State to the east and southeast. The Gulf of Guinea lies to its south. Its capital is Yenagoa.
Bayelsa State was originally part of the Eastern Region in the three-region structure of 1954. In 1967, with the creation of twelve federal states by General Yakubu Gowon’s military government, it became part of Rivers State. In 1996, the military government of General Sani Abacha carved out a portion of Rivers State to create Bayelsa State.
Main Cities and Towns
Yenagoa (capital city), Amassoma, Brass, Ekeremor, Kaiama, Nembe, Odi, Ogbia, Oporama, Otuoke and Sagbama
Land Mass, Location and Population
Bayelsa State covers an area of 9,415.8 square kilometres. It lies at latitude 4°45’ north and longitude 6°05’ east. It has a population of 1,704,515 (2006 census figures) with a population density of 158 people per square kilometre. It accounts for 1.2% of Nigeria’s total population.
Original Inhabitants and Settlers
The early settlers of Bayelsa State were the Ijaw people. The state derives its name from acronym of three of its main local government areas – Brass (BALGA), Yenagoa (YELGA) and Sagbama (SALGA).
The main ethnic groups in Bayelsa State are the Ijaw, Kolokunu, Ekpetiama, Igbriran, Atissa and Biseni. There are ten languages spoken in the state; of these, Izon, Nembe, Ogbia and Epie-Atissa are the most predominant.
The dominant religion in Bayelsa State is Christianity, although some traditional religion is practised.