The site of many ancient kingdoms and empires, the modern political state of Nigeria has its origins in the British colonization of the region during the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries; it emerged from the combination of two neighboring British protectorates: the Southern Nigeria Protectorate and Northern Nigeria Protectorate. During the colonial period, the British set up administrative and legal structures whilst retaining traditional chiefdoms. Nigeria achieved independence in 1960, but plunged into civil war several years later. It has since alternated between democratically-elected civilian governments and military dictatorships, with its 2011 presidential elections being viewed as the first to be conducted reasonably freely and fairly.
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