Created in 1996, Bayelsa state is one of the newest states in Nigeria. It was carved out from Rivers State and belongs to the oil-rich Niger Delta area. The state draws its name from its 3 major local government areas: Brass (BALGA), YENEGOA (YELGA), and Sagbama (SALGA).


Bayelsa state has an abundance of creeks, lagoons, rivers and swamps, making it one of Nigeria’s wetter states. Unsurprisingly, fishing is the major occupation of the people. Although agricultural activities within the state are limited because of the vast swampy and flooded areas, crops like yam, cocoyam, banana etc. are still grown in the state.

Forty percent (40%) of the country’s on-shore crude oil and large quantities of numerous associated gas are produced in Bayelsa state. Hence, it is known as the largest crude oil reserve in the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. Other minerals like clay are also largely deposited throughout the land.

  • The state has six (6) major ethnic groups (Ijaw, Kolokuma, Epetiama, Igbiriran, Atissa and Biseni), with ijaw as the dominant of them all, and 8 local governments including: Brass, Ekeremor, Kolokuma, Opokuma, Nembe, Ogbia, Sagbama, Southern Ijaw and Yenagoa.

Water is highly symbolic, ritualistic and the bedrock upon which religious activities are centered. This makes them widely known as the water people (beni-otu). They believe that humans dwell among the water spirit before being born and that humans have to maintain the good graces of the water spirits while they are here on earth. So each year, they hold celebrations in honour of the spirits lasting several days. During these festivities, masquerades through the intensity of dancing move to the beat of drums to manifest the influence of the spirits.

Alongside the water spirit, Egbesu, the god of warfare who is the spiritual foundation of combating evil and defending or correcting injustice is widely worshipped among the Ijaws and can only be summoned or reawakened by people who are in harmony with the universe.

Bayelsa state is a prosperous land with rich cultural heritage. Major tourist attractions include the Edumanom forest reserve and the Akassa Lighthouse which has been standing since 1910.