Yoruba, Or Yarriba, a country of Africa, lying N. of the bight of Benin and W. of the Niger, between lat. 7° and 9° 30' N. and Ion. 2° and 5° 30' E.; area, about 20,000 sq. m.; pop. estimated at upward of 2,000,000. In the early part of the present century it formed one kingdom, extending from the river Mussa on the north to near the bight of Benin on the south, and from the Niger on the east to Dahomey on the west. The capital was Katunga. By the invasions of the Foolahs the capital was destroyed and the kingdom greatly reduced in extent. A new capital considerably to the south of Katunga was founded, called Oyo, where the present king of Yoruba resides. Many of the states over which he claims dominion are practically independent. No portion of Africa contains so many populous cities as Yoruba. The principal are Ilorin, Ibadan, Ogboomosho, and Ijaye, with populations varying from 40,000 to 70,000. They are generally surrounded by walla of clay, often including much farm land. The housea are generally square, built of clay, and thatched with straw. Hon, the largest city, carries on an extensive commerce The surface of the country is undulating, averaging about 1,000 ft. above the sea; the N. part is hilly.
Much of the country is covered with forests of gigantic trees, with a dense underwood, through which paths not more than 1½ ft. wide are cut for caravans. The Yoruba race are of a clear brown complexion, with features rather European than negro. They are perhaps the most industrious and intelligent native Africans, and are often good mechanics. The principal article of export is palm oil, which they exchange for powder, brandy, and coarse European fabrics. The people are mostly heathen, but many of those who have been subdued by the Foolahs have become Mohammedans. Among the others Christianity has made some progress, and a Christian mission has been established at Ibadan. - See " Seventeen Years in the Yoruba Country," from the journals and letters of Anna Hinderer (London, 1872).