Its inhabitants were mostly Igbo, who led the independence movement due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions among the various peoples of Nigeria. Other ethnic groups included the Efik, Ibibio, Annang, Ejagham, Eket, Ibeno and the Ijaw.
After two-and-a-half years of war, during which almost two million Biafran civilians died from starvation caused by the total blockade of the region by the Nigerian and British governments, Biafran forces under Nigeria's motto of "No-victor, No-vanquished" surrendered to the Nigerian Federal Military Government (FMG). The surrender was facilitated by the Biafran Vice President and Chief of General Staff, Major General Philip Effiong, who assumed leadership of the Republic of Biafra after the original President, Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, fled to Ivory Coast. After the surrender of Biafra, some Igbos who had fled the conflict returned to their properties but were unable to claim them back from new occupants. This became law in the Abandoned Properties Act (28 September 1979). It was purported that at the start of the civil war, Igbos withdrew their funds from Nigerian banks and converted it to the Biafran currency. After the war, bank accounts owned by Biafrans were seized and a Nigerian panel resolved to give every Igbo person with an account only 20 pounds. Today, Federal projects in Biafra were also greatly reduced compared to other parts of Nigeria. In an Intersociety study it was found that Nigerian security forces also extorted approximately $100 million per year from illegal roadblocks and other methods from Igboland, a cultural sub-region of Biafra in what is now southern Nigeria.
Map of West Africa (Rigobert Bonne (Royal Cartographer of France) 1770)
Map of West Africa (1839); Biafra is shown in the region of "Lower Guinea"
Early modern maps of Africa from the 15th to the 19th centuries, drawn from accounts written by explorers and travellers, show references to Biafra, Biafara, and Biafares. In his personal writings from his travels, a Rev. Charles W. Thomas defined the locations of islands in the Bight of Biafra as "between the parallels of longitude 5° and 9° East and latitude 4° North and 2° South". People in the region have described Biafra as the land directly adjacent to the Bight of Biafra and also an indigenous state, existing before European colonialism created such entities as Nigeria.