The early settlers of Kwara State were the Yoruba people. The state name is the local word for the River Niger which flows through the state. Ilorin, the state capital, was founded around 1450. Kwara State was originally part of the Northern Region in the three-region structure of 1954. In 1967, with the creation of twelve federal states by General Yakubu Gowon’s military government, Kwara became part of the West Central State. When the military government of General Murtala Muhammed created nineteen states out of the existing twelve in 1976, West Central State was renamed Kwara State. In both 1976 and 1991, parts of Kwara were carved out to form parts of Benue, Kogi and Niger states.
The main ethnic groups in Kwara State are the Nupe, Fulani, Bariba and Yoruba people. Seven languages are spoken in the state; of these, Ebira, Nupe and Yoruba are the major ones. Christianity and Islam are the main religions in Kwara State, although a fair amount of traditional religion is practised. Christianity and Islam are the main religions in Kwara State, although a fair amount of traditional religion is practised.
Rashidi Yekini scored Nigeria's first World Cup goal during a 3-0 victory over Bulgaria at USA 1994.