Onitsha (ōnĭchˈə) [key], city (1991 est. pop. 328,000), SE Nigeria, a port on the Niger River. The city's manufactures include textiles, beverages, shoes, lumber, and printed materials. Fishing and canoe-building are traditional local industries. Onitsha is the northern limit of year-round navigation on the Niger and is an important entrepôt linking traders from the Niger delta with the upper Niger and Benue rivers and with a wide region of E Nigeria. A road bridge (built 1965) across the Niger at Onitsha is a vital link between E and W Nigeria. Onitsha was probably founded in the 16th cent. by immigrants from Benin. In the 17th cent. it became capital of an Igbo kingdom. In 1857 a British trading station and a Christian mission were established in the city, and in 1884 Onitsha came under British protection.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.