The area today called Zamfara State was one of the old Hausa city-states. The Zamfara Kingdom came into being in the eleventh century and flourished until the sixteenth century. The kingdom became part of the Sokoto Caliphate after the 1804 jihad of Usman dan Fodio. Zamfara State was part of the Northern Region in the three-region structure of 1954. With the creation of twelve federal states during General Yakubu Gowon’s military administration, Zamfara became part of North-West State. In 1976 when North-West State was divided by General Murtala Muhammed’s military administration, it became part of Sokoto State. Zamfara was established as its own entity in 1996 by the military administration of General Sani Abacha.
Zamfara State is mainly populated by the Hausa and Fulani people as well as some members of Gwari, Kamuku, Kambari, Dukawa, Bussawa and Zabarma ethnic communities. Islam is the principal religion of the state. Zamfara was the first state in Nigeria to introduce sharia law.
Alhaji Ahmed Rufai Sani Yerima was Governor of Zamfara State from May 1999 to May 2007. He is now Senator for Zamfara West and Deputy Minority Leader in the Senate. Yerima was the first Nigerian Governor to implement Sharia law in his state, which came into effect on 27 January 2000. He is a member of the All Nigeria People's Party (ANPP).