Sokoto had been used as early as October 1804 by the Shehu Usmanu Dan Fodiyo as the venue for the meeting with Galadima, Yunfa’s Vizier. Subsequently, it was used by Muhammad Bello as a staging post for an attack on Dufua in the spring of 1806. Bovil suggested that the area/district may have been known as Sokoto as early as the seventeenth century. In historical perspective, Sokoto was founded as a ribat (military camp or frontier) in 1809, when Shehu Usmanu was at Sifawa. It later became the capital of the caliphate after Shehu’s death.

Sokoto is a major city located in the extreme northwest of Nigeria, near the confluence of the Sokoto River and the Rima River. As of 2006 it has a population of people over 427,760. Sokoto is the modern-day capital of Sokoto State and was previously the capital of the north-western states.

The name Sokoto (which is the modern/anglicised version of the local name, Sakkwato) is of Arabic origin, representing sooq, ‘market’ in English. It is also known as Sakkwato, Birnin Shaihu da Bello or “Sokoto, Capital of Shaihu and Bello” Bello Umar Maikaset.

The seat of the former Sokoto Caliphate, the city is predominantly Muslim and an important seat of Islamic learning in Nigeria. The Sultan who heads the caliphate is effectively the spiritual leader of Nigerian Muslims.

Sokoto state has a projected population of 3.7 million[citation needed people based on a 2006 census made up of two ethnic groups namely, Fulani and Hausa. Sokoto town, the capital of Sokoto state, has a population of approximately 2.5 million. Apart from Fulani and Hausa, there are the Zabarmawa and Tuareg minorities in the local government border areas. All these groups speak Hausa as a common language. Fulfulde is spoken by the Fulani.

Tourist centres in Sokoto state;


Being the spiritual head of all Muslims in Nigeria, the sultan’s palace in Sokoto symbolizes the unity of the Nigerian Muslim Ummah. The Sultan’s palace is architecture’s masterpiece with great cultural and artistic excellence. Hundreds of traditional palace guards can be seen protecting the palace in their multi colored robes and turbans.

It is more of a Mecca to most Nigerian muslims. On the other hand, the palace represents evidence of unique architectural prowess of the people during the time of the Caliphate overlordship.

More colorful, apart from the lavish decorations of the Palace, are the palace guards in multi-colored regalia and robes.


The Goronyo Dam impounds the Rima River in Goronyo local government area of Sokoto State in the north of Nigeria. It was completed in 1984 and commissioned in 1992. The dam is a sand-fill structure with a height of 21 m and a total length of 12.5 km. It has a storage capacity of 976 million cubic meters.

The dam will be important in controlling floods and releasing water in the dry season for the planned Zauro polder project downstream in Kebbi State .This 21m high sand-filled dam is an important structure that provides irrigation for farmers, prevents floods in the surrounding villages.

The view from the top is a must-see. The contrast between the blue river on one side, and the arid land on the other is a marvel and shows the best of man and nature collaboration. The villages around are quite receptive to foreigners so you don’t be surprised to find yourself on camel back riding and making friends with the kids.

Sokoto Museum

The Sokoto museum is a national museum that tells the story of the old Sokoto caliphate.

The museum is dedicated to the life and times of Usman Dan Fodio, and it features his personal items such as scriptures, Koran, maps, throne, and other artifacts and monuments from around the state.

The museum is dedicated to the Islamic scholar and founder of the Sokoto Caliphate Usman Dan Fodio. It tells the story of the caliphate from its inception, its rise and expansion, its dealings with the British colonists and its sudden fall.

You will see relics and even personal effects of Usman Dan Fodio such as his maps, scriptures, copies of his Quran and his thrones. It is a very rich history and the museum brings to life how it was to live in those times. However, the museum is not much in terms of aesthetics.


The tomb of the Islamic scholar and the acknowledged founder of the state, Shehu Usman Dan Fodio is located within the state. It is situated on Sultan Bello road, close to Shehu’s Mosque and not far away from the palace of the Sultan. The area is dedicated to the tombs of Usman Dan Fodio and his relatives.

The Hubbare (tomb) of Shehu Dan Fodio (founder of Sokoto Caliphate, Fodio Dynasty) is located in Sokoto town near the famous Mosque of Shehu, near the Sultan of Sokoto’s Palace.

Hubbaren is the place were the founder of Sokoto Caliphate (formed in 1804) was buried. The founder was buried there along with some members of his family and his descendants including Muhammad Maccido, the 19th Emir who died in ADC airline Flight 53 air crash in 2006.

At first, on reaching the place, people are seen waiting for visitors to come and give them alms. Before entering the first door to the tomb, one must remove his shoes.

There are two police men guarding the place. When someone enters the first corridor, the person will take a walk of 200 yards before he gets to the location of the Tomb. Upon getting to the entrance, the person has to greet the “Wakili” (that is the designated custodian of the tomb).


The Waziri Junaidu History and Culture Museum was established in 1973. The museum has an assortment of over 500,000 historical treasures that tell the story of the Sokoto people. There are various displays of the cultural relics and artifacts of the local people archived for public consumption when visitors come into the museum; and it is a place where school children and senior students can learn a lot about the past ways of the people.

Any visit to Sokoto would be incomplete without spending a few hours at the Waziri Junaidu History and Culture Museum, a combined library, museum and archive. Established with the purpose of collecting, preserving and displaying all relics, artifacts, archives and manuscripts relating to the history of Sokoto people and its government, this six department museum of international standards house more than 500,000 volumes of assorted materials and other historical treasures.

An extensive tour of the museum is very enlightening. The manuscripts of the Jihad leaders are there, so are some of the flags given to many of the ancestors who made Islam so relevant in today’s Nigeria, West Africa and beyond. The museum, with the support of the Sultanate Council, has compiled many publications, and more are forthcoming.


The Shehu Kangiwa Square used to be known as Gingiya, meaning palm tree. It is the site of an ancient battle between British troops and local Sokoto forces led by Sultan Attahiru in 1903. It is an open square outside the city wall and today a square to behold, as well as the center of local trade and commerce.


Surame is an ancient city created in the 16th Century by its first king Muhammadu Kanta Sarkin Kebbi and was later abandoned in the 1700 when the empire’s capital was moved to Birnin Kebbi.

There were 14 gates to Surame City. These gates were categorized as seven great gates and seven smaller gates. The great gates connected the city with the outside world, while the seven smaller gates connected different sections of the city. Six hundred years after it was destroyed some of the gates are still standing at the site.

One of the standing gates is referred to as Dashe Tree Gate. The stone arrangement of the city gates, security posts, the narrow paths leading into the city through the gates, the two concentric stone walls, rectangular palace walls and the enclosures built to fortify it against external attacks, are some of the awesome features that still exist at the site till today.


Also known as Sadiq Abubakar III International Airport, the airport is named after the 17th Sultan of Sokoto who reigned from 1938 to 1988. Commissioned in 1938, some parts of it got destroyed by a rainstorm a year after, which took a few years to reconstruct.

One of the major domestic airports in Nigeria, it features the necessary facilities required as laid down by the aviation authority. In the few times it defaulted to keep to international standards, it has promptly been shut down till the issue gets rectified to ensure customers are guaranteed a safe flying experience.


National Gallery of Arts, Sokoto is an art gallery responsible for the collection, preservation, documentation and presentation of Nigeria’s contemporary arts.

This museum in Sokoto houses a lot of art collections, terracotta sculpture one of which is the male head of the Sultan of Sokoto in the third century BC was Muhammadu Attahiru I and so many others.


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