• By Ogunrinola Isaiah:

Do you know that Calabar house the largest diversity of Butterflies?

A good way to see them is to tour Cross River National Park, where over 300 species live, including the gorgeous Papilio monachus, the unusual blue Iolaus iasis, and the newly-discovered Tetrahanis okwangwo.

Also, Calabar is considered as the first capital of Nigeria because it served as the first capital of the Southern Protectorate, the Oil River Protectorate, and Niger Coast Protectorate. This was until the late nineteenth century, when the administrative centre of the Southern protectorate was moved to Lagos in 1906. 


Calabar (also referred to as CallabarCalabariCalbariKalabari and Kalabar) is the capital of Cross River State, Nigeria. Calabar is often described as the tourism capital of Nigeria. Administratively, the city is divided into Calabar Municipal and Calabar South Local Government Areas. It has an area of 406 square kilometres (157 sq mi) and a population of 371,022 as at 2006 census.

On 10 September, 1884, Queen Victoria signed a Treaty of Protection with the King and Chiefs of Akwa Akpa, known to Europeans as Old Calabar. This enabled the United Kingdom to exercise control over the entire territory around Calabar, including Bakassi.

Today, Calabar is a large metropolis with several towns like Akim, Ikot Ansa, Ikot Ishie, Kasuk, Duke Town, Henshaw Town, Cobham Town, Ikot Omin, Obutong.

Calabar has three principal landlord kingdoms, namely The Qua Kingdom of Ejagham (Ekoi)/bantu origin, The Efut and the Efik Kingdoms. The Qua Kingdom has the Ndidem of the Qua nation as the Grand Patriarch, the Efut have the Muri munene as the Grand Patriarch while the Efik Kingdom patriarch is known as the Obong.

Things you should know about Calabar and her people

  • Hope Waddell Secondary School, Calabar was the first Secondary School in the east of the Niger and was established by the Presbyterian Church in 1895.
    It was named after the Rev. Hope Masterton Waddell who was then a vibrant Presbyterian missionary.
  • The Efik language was the first African language in Print in Africa beginning in 1862.
  • The very first complete translation of the Bible into a Nigerian language is the Efik language.
  • King Archibong III was in 1878 Nigeria’s very first Justice of Peace (JP)
  • The coronation of the King Archibong III (Edem Asibong Ekpo Efiom Okoho Efiom Ekpo….) on September 6, 1878, marked the very first Royal Church Coronation in Nigeria’s and West Africa’s religious histories. He was also the first king to be coronated wearing an entire regalia sent by the Queen.
  • Louis Orok Edet was the first indigenous Nigerian Inspector General of Police.
  • Established in 1938 the West African People’s Institute in Calabar is Nigeria’s first private secondary school.
  • The late Chief Mrs. Margaret Ekpo was one of Nigeria’s foremost women-rights activists and major participant during the Aba Market Women Riot in 1929, believed to have been remotely inspired by the Calabar Market Women Revolt of 1925.
  • The late Chief Dr. Bassey James Ikpeme was the first indigenous Surgeon General of Nigeria.
  • The late Chief Mrs. Ekanem Bassey Ikpeme was the first female pharmacist in West Africa.
  • The very first games of Football, Cricket and Hockey were played in Calabar.
  • Professor Lawrence Eyo Ita was the first indigenous Nigerian professor and first premier of the former Eastern Region of Nigeria.
  • The late Hogan “Kid” Bassey was the first Nigerian to win the world feather-weight boxing title.
  • The late Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo-Ita was the first Nigerian to represent Africa in FIFA.
  • Former Governor Donald Duke was the first ever Governor in Nigeria to initiate the first global carnival in Nigeria.
  • Mrs. Cecilia Ekpenyong was the first and only female deputy governor of Cross River State.
  • The first photographic studio in West Africa was established in Calabar in 1876.
  • Willy Eyo Honesty I was the first person in West Africa to compile a dictionary of an African language in 1812.
  • The first medical college and the first School of Pharmacy in Nigeria began in Calabar.
  • The first church wedding in Nigeria was held in Creek Town Presbyterian Church on April 15, 1850.
  • Also, the late Chief [Dr.] James Ene Richard Henshaw was Nigeria’s foremost literary artist, and the late Hon Richard Henshaw the first indigenous member of legislature in Lord Lugard’s administration.
  • Chief [Mrs.] Ekei Esien Oku was the first female librarian in West Africa.
  • The late Chief Afiong E. Idem Ekeng was the first female Ophthalmic Optician in Nigeria.
  • The late Lawyer Ekpo Anwan was the very first certified indigenous Nigerian lawyer under British rule.
  • Dr. Lawrence Ekeng Richard Henshaw was the first director of medical services in West Africa


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