Early History

Jos, one of Nigeria’s most cosmopolitan cities and the capital of Plateau State in central Nigeria, began as a village settlement at the foot of the hill where Jos Museum is today located.  Originally called Gwosh by the indigenous Berom ethnic group, it was corrupted to Jos by outsiders who poured into the area as the British colonialists began mining the areas reserves of tin and columbite early in the 20th century.

From a small village settlement, Jos has  into a large city that today serves as an important administrative and political capital as well ss a thriving business and commercial centre.

Located on the plateau region of central Nigeria, with heights ranging from 1,400 metres to 1,800 metres above sea level, Jos has a unique ambience with an alluring landscape of undulating hills, greenish fields strewn with boulders of different shapes and sizes, with temperate coolness hard to find in the tropics.

Tin-mining had begun in the Jos area after the British had subdued them using it’s West Africa Frontier Force, bringing it under it’s northern Nigeria government before north and south were merged to form the present country in 1914. Mining opened an influx of people from other parts of Nigeria and foreigners as well into Jos, laying the grounds for the melting pot it became. The completion of the Zaria to Bukuru rail line in 1914, linking the city to Port Harcourt further aided what became known as the “Tin Rush.”

To further encourage commercial activities in the area, two banks were opened in 1917. These were the Bank of British West Africa, and the Barclays Bank, (Dominion, Colonial and Overseas). The opening of the two banks brought with it rapid increase in business activities and the population of the town soared with people from Europe, West Africa and Asia coming to live there.

Jos has also made it mark as one of the centres of political activism in Nigeria. In the run to Independence in 1960 and thereafter, Jos was and has remained a hotbed for political agitation and resentment in northern Nigeria. This was the birthplace and headquarters of the then United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) which rose as a movement of the Middle Belt people against perceived overlordship and suppression by the Hausa-Fulani feudal leadership.Jos has ever since then remained a key flashpoint of violence along sectarian lines in recent decades, pitching the local people, who are mostly Christian or Animist, against Muslims that moved into the area from further north.

Over the years, Jos has continued to attract huge business investment because of its favourable and friendly climate, natural endowments and enduring hospitality. Today, there are many industries operating in the area, ranging from manufacturing to breweries, mining, agro-allied, food processing and raw material production.

Jos is second only to Kano in the number of industrial establishments in the whole of northern Nigeria.

Sect Junction Jos by El Sadeeq Lame
Secretariat Junction, Jos. Photo: El-Sadeeq Lame

The fertile soil and good climatic condition has made Jos one of the major food baskets of Nigeria. The town is richly endowed with various food crops and vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, onion, lettuce, cabbage, spinach, water melon and other. These products are marketed both within and outside the country.

Apart from food crops and vegetable production, Jos equally has a favourable climate for animal husbandry, especially cattle breeding for meat and milk. This had encouraged the establishment of the farmers Veterinary Institute in Vom, near Jos, which is only one of its kinds in the country. The institute has for many years been involved in the research and production of dairy and livestock for the nation.

Equally, there are many important Federal Institution and agencies that are located in Jos and it’s environ. These include, the Police College, National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) Karu, National Film Institute, the Man O’ War Bay citizenship and Leadership Training Centre at the Shere Hills, University of Jos, various military institution and other notable establishments.


One of the notable Federal Institutions in Jos is the National Museum which houses the artifacts of the Nok Culture along with artefacts from other parts of the country. The Nationial Museum in Jos is a repository of huge artifacts that dated back to several hundreds of years and have helped historians and archaeologist to extend Nigeria’s history backward by more than two thousand years. The archaeological discoveries around Jos have encouraged more investigations to other parts of the country. This unique institution has become a centre of scholarly activities as researchers have continued to patronize it.

Jos is one of the most fascinating and attractive tourism destinations in the country, and also the entire African Continent. Its uniqueness lies in the temperate climate, which is very friendly, and the breathtaking tourism sites that cannot be found anywhere in the world.

Jos as a favourite holiday resort and tourism destination was recognized by the Colonial Masters, which encouraged expatriate officers to spend their leave in Jos for good health. This was officially contained in the Civil Service manual known then as General Orders. Ever since, the city has continued to witness influx of foreign tourists who come to savour the friendly whether and spectacular tourism sites that are located all over the city and tis adjoining communities.

Among such tourism sites that can be found in Jos include:

* National Museum
* Museum of Traditional Nigeria Architecture
* Jos Village Safari Park
* Jos Zoological Garden and Park
* Mado Tourist Village
* Assop Water Falls
* Wase Rocks
* Kerang Volcanic Mountain
* Kura Falls
* Panyain Fish Farm
* Pandam Game Reserve and Tourist Village
* Shere Hills
* Riyam Rock
* Jos Ultra-Modern Market
* Naraguta Leather Works and Pottery.

Part of the attraction of Jos is its hospitality and entertainment industry. The city has so many hotels and entertainment spots what will make a visit to the city an unforgettable experience. Jos is also very accessible for road, air and train. In the good old days of the Jos railway terminus used to be a beehive of activities.    

Although Jos has grown to become a cosmopolitan city, it is also rich in traditional culture. The city still has a traditional ruler known by the title Gwom Jos.