Sokoto usually referred to as Sokoto State to distinguish it from the city of Sokoto, is located in the extreme northwest of Nigeria, near to the confluence of the Sokoto River and the Rima River. As of 2005, it has an estimated population of more than 4.2 million. Sokoto City is the modern-day capital of Sokoto State (and its predecessor, the Northwestern State).
The name Sokoto (which is the modern/anglicized version of the local name, Sakkwato) is of Arabic origin, representing suk, "market". It is also known as Sakkwato, Birnin Shaihu da Bello or "Sokoto, Capital of Shaihu and Bello").
Being the seat of the former Sokoto Caliphate, the city is predominantly Muslim and an important seat of Islamic learning in Nigeria. The Sultan who heads the caliphate is effectively the spiritual leader of Nigerian Muslims.