Sokoto is a state located in the extreme northwest of Nigeria, near to the confluence of the Sokoto River and the Rima River. Its capital city is Sokoto. The name Sokoto (which is the modern/anglicised version of the local name, Sakkwato) is of Arabic origin, representing suk, "market". It is also known as Sakkwato, Birnin Shaihu da Bello or "Sokoto, Capital of Shaihu and Bello"). Sokoto state was created in 1976. Sokoto being 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.
In 1967, not long after Nigeria's independence from the British, the region became known as the Northwestern State. This territory was, in 1976, split into Sokoto State and Niger State. Later on, Kebbi State (1991) and Zamfara State (1996) split off from Sokoto State. Sokoto State is mainly populated by Hausa people. Most Sokoto State residents are Sunni Muslims, with a Shia minority. Violence between the two groups is uncommon.