Zaria is a major city in Kaduna State in Northern Nigeria, as well as being a Local Government Area. Formerly known as Zazzau, it was one of the original seven Hausa city-states. The 2006 Census population was 408,198. The current Emir of Zazzau (Sarkin Zazau in Hausa language)
Zaria, initially known as Zazau, was also the capital of the Hausa kingdom of Zazzau. However, human settlement predates the rise of Zazzau, as the region, like some of its neighbors, had a history of sedentary Hausa settlement, with institutional but pre-capitalistmarket exchange and farming.
In the late 1450s, Islam arrived in Zaria by the way of its sister Habe cities, Kano and Katsina. Along with Islam, trade also flourished between the cities as traders brought camel caravans filled with salt in exchange for slaves and grain. Between the fifteenth and sixteenth century the kingdom became a tributary state of the Songhai Empire. In 1805 it was captured by the Fulani during the Fulani Jihad. British forces led by Frederick Lugard took the city in 1901.
The old part of the city, known as Birnin Zaria or Zaria-City, was originally surrounded by walls, which now have been mostly removed. The Emir's palace is located in the old city. In the old city and the adjacent Tudun Wada neighbourhood people typically reside in traditional adobe compounds. These two neighborhoods are predominately occupied by the indigenous Hausa. The neighborhoods of Samaru and Sabon Gari are predominately occupied by Nigerians of southern origin, such as the Igbo The largest marketplace is in Sabon Gari. Other more recent neighborhoods include: Danmagaji/Wusasa, PZ, Kongo, GRA-Zaria, Hanwa, Bassawa and Shikka.
Transport and economy
Zaria's economy is primarily based on agriculture. Staples are guinea corn and millet, and cash crops include cotton, groundnuts and tobacco. The city is considered by some to be a main center of Hausa agriculture. Not only is Zaria a market town for the surrounding area, it is the home of numerous artisans, from traditional crafts like leather work, dyeing and cap making, to tinkers, printshops and furniture makers. Zaria is also the center of a textile industry that for over 200 years has made elaborately hand-embroidered robes that are worn by men throughout Nigeria and West Africa.
Because Zaria is north of the rail junction at Kaduna, it has equal rail access to the seaports at Lagos and Port Harcourt.
From 1914 to 1927, Zaria was the break-of-gauge junction station for the Bauchi Light Railway to the tin mines at Jos.
Zaria is home to Ahmadu Bello University, the largest university in Nigeria and the second largest on the African continent. The institution is very prominent in the fields of Agriculture, Science, Finance, Medicine and Law. Zaria is also the base for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology. National Research Institute for Chemical Technology. Zaria is also home to Barewa College. The school is known for the large number of elites from the region that passed through the school's academic buildings and counts among its alumni, five of whom were at one time Nigerian Heads of State, including the late president Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.