Imo State is named for the Imo River which flows through it. Its inhabitants are chiefly Igbo Christians.
Imo was originally part of the Eastern Region in the three-region structure of 1954. In 1967, with the creation of 12 states by the administration of General Yakubu Gowon, it became a part of East Central State. In 1976, when the admnistration of General Murtala Muhammed created 19 states out of the existing 12, East Central State was divided into Anambra and Imo states. In 1991, the administration of General Ibrahim Babangida carved Abia State out of Imo State.
Chioma Ajunwa was the first Nigerian to win an Olympic gold medal. The police officer and indigene of the Ahiazu Mbaise LGA won a gold medal for the long jump at the 1996 Olympics Games in Atlanta, USA.