thnic Composition and Culture: Many communities in Edo State trace their
descent to the ancient Benin Kingdom. Hence there is a lot of linguistic and
cultural affinity among the communities .
The main language spoken is Edo, although variations are observed from one subsection to another For instance, the Esans speak the Esan dialect while the Etsakos speak the Etsako dialect. Also, AkokoEdo, there is a multiplicity of language? which include Yoruba, Ebira, Okpameri, Uneme Ososo, et cetera.
Ring Road Roundabout, Benin City
The diversity of dialects is highly magnified at the borderlands with Igala
speaking communities in Esan SouthEast and Urhobo, lzon and Yoruba communities
in the Ovia LGAs. Similarity of culture is manifested in the inhabitants' mode
of religious worship, folk lores, dance, art and crafts, festivals, et cetera.
There are, how ever, three religious groups namely Christianity, Islam and traditional worship. Christianity reached Edo State in the 15th century through the Portuguese, while Islam was introduced by the Nupe warriors towards the end of the 19th century.
There are over 100 festivals celebrated annually in the state, mainly between March and September. The celebrations offer people opportu nities for reunion with their friends and family mem bers, apart from making room for worship of gods and purification of people and lands.
The main festivals include lgue among the Binis, Ukpe among the Esans and the Okpameris, and Uda in the university town of Ekpoma. Edo State is very rich in arts and crafts such as wood carving, brasscasting and bronzecasting. Works of art were introduced in Benin about the 10th century A.D.Specifically, the art of brass casting is traced to the coming of the lfe smiths to Benin City in 1290 A.D. Today, some of the state's out standing artists are late Irein Wangboje, Felix ldubor, Osagie Osifo and Festus Idehen.
Local craftsmanship embraces cloth weaving in Somorika, Igarra, Auchi and Ubiaja, pottery in Ojah, Udo and Uhonmora, while mat making, basket weaving and smithery and jewellery are found all over the state.
Population: Edo State had a total population of 2.16 million in 1991 of which 50.13 percent were males. The average
Precious Palm Royal Hotel, Benin
population density for the state is 109 persons per sq. km, which is above the national average of about ninetysix persons per sq. km..The differences in the size and density of the populations of the various LGAs are shown in Table 12.1. Benin City, the state capital is responsible for the high population density of Oredo LGA.
The extremely low rural densities of twentyfour persons per sq. km for Ovia South West, fiftyone for Orhionmwon and fortythree for Esan South East should be noted.
These and other very sparsely settled rural areas in the state support some of the most extensive forest reserves in the country. A large number of migrant farmers of lgbo, Urhobo and Ebira origin are attracted by the large area of fertile land available in such sparsely settled areas. Details of the age sex structure of the popula tion in 1991 are not available.
The 1963 census and sample surveys show that over 43 per cent of the population of the country is under 15 years of age (Afolayan, 1983). The slow rate of adoption of family planning practices suggests that in Edo State, the juvenile dependency ratio may have increased. Family size on the average is six per
sons (Segynola, 1992), but there are many fami lies of traditional title holders that have each between fifteen and twenty members. The average age of girls at marriage is eighteen years. An increasing number of girls now marry after twentyfive years since there are now many more girls attending universities and other tertiary institutions.
Settlements: The major urban centres include Benin City, Auchi and Uromi. Other urban settle ments, include all local government headquarters, a status that was conferred on them by government. All these settlements are on the priority list of gov ernment for settlement development.
Undalating Plains beneath the Grainite Rocks, Igarra
However, there are medium sized settlements such as Ibillo, Ososo, Jattu, Okpella, lgueben (recently made an LGA headquarter), and Fugar (also an LGA head quarter) that have also received government atten tion in terms of the provision of social services. Other agencies that have contributed to settlement development are Community Development Unions and Cooperative Societies (Okafor, 1984).
In Recent years, the contributions of rich individuals can no longer be ignored in this regard. With refer ence to the latter, the provision of many facilities in Okada village, popularly referred to as Okada Wonderland by Chief Gabriel lgbinedion, the Esama of Benin, is noteworthy.
The amenities in Okada town include a specialist hospital for teaching/research, a telephone exchange, tourist attractions and facilities, et cetera. In the rural areas, the indigenous people live in closely nucleated villages and farm hamlets.
The latter are mostly settled by migrant tenant farmers who live on harvesting and processing the fruits and semiwild oil palm trees that are scattered all over the state.
Problem of Urban Primacy: With the con centration of population, industries and social serv ices in Benin City, the phenomenon of urban pri mary is real in the state. The city is the state capi tal as well as the administrative headquarters of Oredo LGA. It thus receives government attention at two levels.
Furthermore, private entrepreneurs driven by profit motives locate their businesses in the city. The city is therefore the centre of commer cial, industrial and public enterprises. Most of the best medical and educational institutions are also located in Benin City.