Kwara State was formed out of the former northern region on 27th May 1967 by the then regime of General Yakubu Gowon. At its creation, the state was made up of the former Ilorin and Kabba provinces of the then Northern Region and was initially named the West Central State but later changed to Kwara, a local name for the River Niger. It’s capital is Ilorin.
Located in north western Nigeria, Kwara State occupies 36,825 square kilometres. In the 1976 state creation exercise, the Idah/Dekina portion of the state was excised to merge with a part of the then Benue-Plateau State to form Benue State. On August 27, 1991, five local government areas, namely Oyi, Yagba, Okene, Okehi and Kogi were also excised to form part of a new state called Kogi, while a sixth, Borgu Local Government Area, was merged with Niger State.
Agriculture is the main stay of the economy and the principal cash crops are: cotton, cocoa, coffee, kolanut, tobacco, benseed and palm produce. Agricultural institutes located in the state are the Agricultural and Rural Management Training Institute, (ARMTI), the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation and Niger River Basin Authority all located in Ilorin and the Agricultural Research Project of the Obafemi Awolowo University at Balla provide farmers with vital information on modern agricultural techniques. Also, mineral resources abound in the state. Among these are limestone, marble, feldspar, clay, kaolin, quartz and granite rocks.
Industries in the state include Kwara Breweries, Ijagbo Global Soap and Detergent Industry, United Match Company, Tate and Lyle Company, Resinoplast Plastic Industry, Phamatech Nigeria Limited, Kwara Textile and Kwara Furniture Company all in Ilorin. Others are Paper Manufacturing Industry, Jebba, Okin Foam and Okin Biscuits, Offa, Kay Plastic, Ganmo and Kwara Paper Converters Limited, Erin-De. Others are Sugar Producing Company, Bacita, Kwara animal Feed Mall, Ilorin and the Agricultural Products Company, Bacita.
Kwara State has a very rich and highly interesting cultural heritage. Among these are Durbar associated with Edu, Ilorin-West and Ilorin-East Local Government Areas. The Durbar is usually held in honour of a new Emir or Chief, to welcome an August visitor and on Muslim festivals of Idel-Kabir and Id-el-Adha. There is also Pategi regatta which is an annual festival featuring boat displays, fishing and swimming competitions.
Also, the Awon festival is held annually at shao; in remembrance of Awo goddess. During the festival all the marriageable girls are given out in marriage in one day. Egungun festival, held in remembrance of the dead ancestors hold every year among the Igbomina people of Irepodun, Ifelodun and Ekiti Local Government areas. It usually features dancing by masquerades for five to nine days.
Kwara state possesses several fascinating historical and cultural monuments, which include the Esie Stone images at Esie, in Irepodun L.G.A. of the state. The stones were said to have been discovered in the 17th century.
Others are the spectacular Owu Falls at Owa Kajola, in Ifelodun Local Government Area; the remains of Mungo Park’s wrecked boat – the `D Spring’ and Mungo Park’s Monument both at Jebba, Okuta- Ilorin, from where the name of the capital was derived, and the Jebba Dam which is one of the major sources of hydro-electric power in the country.