Gowon was overthrown in a bloodless military coup on July 29, 1975, when he was attending a summit meeting of the Organization of African Unity.
Brigadier General Murtala Ramat Muhammed became the leader of the government.
He started a popular purging of the members of the previous government and announced a return of the country to civilian rule.
Intermarriages flourished among the various groups. One of the most prosperous trades even before the arrival of the Europeans was the slave trade.
It was common practice in many African civilizations to sell war captives, delinquent children, and the handicapped; and Nigeria was no exception.
With the arrival of the Europeans, slavery became more lucrative.
Intertribal wars were encouraged by the Europeans so that more captured slaves could be sent to the New World. When the mouth of the Niger River was discovered in 1830, the British heightened their economic expansion into the interior of the country.
Nigeria's national flag, believed to have been designed by Taiwo Akinkunmi—a Nigerian student in London, consists of a field of green, white, and green, divided into three equal parts.
Green represents the agricultural richness of the nation, while the white stands for unity and peace.
In early 1967 the distribution of petroleum revenues between the government and the Eastern Region, where the majority of Ibos come from, sparked a conflict.
Gowon proposed to abolish the regions of Nigeria and replace them with 12 states.
Ten ethnic groups account for 80 percent of Nigeria's population.
English is the official language; however, Yoruba, Ibo, and Hausa represent the principal languages, joined by Kanuri, Fulani, Nupe, Tiv, Edo, Ijaw and Ibibio.
Like many other African countries, the distribution of religion can be broken down into three major areas: Christians, Muslims, and animists.