Learn more about Fula people
| Image:East - Fulbe.JPG|
Fula women in the East Province of Cameroon.
|Total population||10 to 13 million (2005)<ref>Ndukwe 16 (1996) gives a figure of 10 million; Gordon, "Adamawa Fulfulde", says 13 million speakers of all forms of Fulfulde.</ref>|
|Regions with significant populations||Guinea, Cameroon, Nigeria, Senegal, Central African Republic, Burkina Faso, Benin, Mali, Niger, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Chad, Sierra Leone, Mauritania and Sudan.|
The Fula or Fulani is an ethnic group of people spread over many countries in West Africa, from Mauritania, Senegambia, and Guinea in the west to Cameroon and as far as Sudan in the east. They refer to themselves as Fulɓe (singular pullo).
 One people, many names
There are also many names (and spellings of the names) used in other languages to refer to the Fulɓe. Fulani in English is borrowed from the Hausa term. Fula, from Manding languages is also used in English, and sometimes spelled Fulah or Foulah. The French borrowed the Wolof term Pël, which is variously spelled Peul, Peulh, and even Peuhl. More recently the Fulfulde / Pulaar term Fulɓe is adapted to English as Fulbe.
 Traditional livelihood
The Fulani are traditionally a nomadic, pastoralist people, herding cattle, goats and sheep across the vast dry hinterlands of their domain, keeping somewhat separate from the local agricultural populations.
The ancient origins of the Fula people have been the subject of speculation over the years, but several centuries ago they appear to have begun moving from the area of present-day Senegal eastward.
During the 16th century the Fula expanded through the sahel grasslands stretching from what is today Senegal to Sudan. Their military strength centered on powerful cavalry that could quickly move across the large empire and defeat rivals, but the Fulani could not expand southwards, as the horses could not withstand the diseases of those latitudes.
In the west, the Fouta Djallon located mainly in present day Guinea as well as parts of Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Sierra Leone was a major state with a written constitution and ruling alternance between the 2 main parties: the Soriya and the Alphaya. The Fouta Djallon state was born in 1735 when Fulani Muslims decided to rise against the non-Muslim Fulanis and Djalounkes rulers to create a confederation of provinces. Alpha Ibrahima Sory Maoudho was elected as the first Almaamy in 1735 at the capital Timbo in present day Guinea. The Fouta Djallon state lasted until 1898 when the French colonial troops defeated the last Almamy (Ruler) Bokar Biro Barry, dismantled the state and integrated it into their new colony of Rivières du Sud, which became Guinea.
 Fulbe jihad states
A jihad state is a territory that was established by political and religious Muslim leaders who conquer a region by offensive war, invoking Jihad or holy war in accordance with Koranic injuctions. Fittingly, the rulers often assumed the honorific title of Emir, an Arabic title which can mean general as well as prince or governor, or a derivate in a local language.
In particular, the term is historically used in reference to the 19th century Islamic conquests in Western Africa, especially the Fulbe jihad, a phrase referring to the state-founding jihad led by Usman dan Fodio in the first decade of the 19th century in and around Nigeria. Most of these states were in colonial times brought into the British Northern Nigeria Protectorate around 1901-1903.
- Abuja, replacing the former Zuba; the ruler's title was Sarkin Zazzau, from 1828 also Emir
- Adamawa (now partially in Cameroon), founded in 1809; title Baban-Lamido
- Agaie, founded in 1822; title emir
- Bauchi emirate, founded in 1805; title Lamido, a corruption of Emir
- Futa Jallon, the first jihad state, founded in 1725 by 9 muslim leaders; title Almamy (from Imam)
- Gombe, founded in 1804; title Modibo Gombe.
- Gwandu, a major Fulbe jihad state, founded in 1817; title Emir
- Hadejia, replaced Biram (title Sarkin Biram) in 1805; new title Sarkin Hadejia, from 1808 also styled Emir
- Jama`are, founded in 1811; style Emir.
- Jema`an Darroro, founded in 1810; title Emir
- Kano replaced the old (Hausa) Kano state in March 1807; the old title Sarkin Kano is still used, but now also styled Emir
- Katagum, founded in 1807; title Sarkin Katagum, also styled Emir
- Katsina replaced the old (Hausa) Katsina state in 1805; the old title Sarkin Katsina is still used, but now also styled Emir.
- Kazaure, founded in 1818; title Emir, also styled Sarkin *Arewa (apparently imitating neighbours)
- Keffi, founded in 1802; title Emir
- Lafiagi, founded in 1824; new title Emir
- Lapai, founded in 1825; style Emir
- Massina, founded in 1818; title Emir (?)
- Mubi, founded in 18..; title Emir
- Muri, founded in 1817, style Emir; 1892-1893 de facto French protectorate, 1901 part of Northern Nigerian British protectorate
- Sokoto, the center of the Fulbe jihad, established on 21 February 1804 by Usman dan Fodio, title Amir al-Mu´minin, also styled Lamido Julbe; on 20 April 1817 Sokoto was styled sultanate (title sultan, also styled Amir al-Mu´minin and Sarkin Musulmi), the suzerain of all Fulbe jihad states; in 1903 the British occupied Sokoto Sultanate
- Zaria, superseded the old Zazzau state (title Sarkin Zazzau) on 31 December 1808; new style first Malam, since October/November 1835 Emir, also styled Sarkin Zaria and Sarkin Zazzau
 Culture & Language
The language of Fulas is called Pulaar or Fulfulde depending on the region, or variants thereof. It is also the language of the Tukulor. All Senegalese who speak the language natively are known as the Halpulaar or Haalpulaar'en, which stands for "speakers of Pulaar" ("hal" is the root of the Pulaar verb haalugol, meaning "to speak"). In some areas, e.g. in northern Cameroon, Fulfulde is a local lingua franca.
Fulas are minorities in every country they live in (most countries of West Africa). So some also speak other languages, for example:
- Portuguese and Kriol in Guinea-Bissau
- French and Arabic in Mauritania
- Hausa and French in Niger
- French and English in Cameroon
- Wolof and French in Senegal
- Sango and French in Central African Republic
- Bambara and French in Mali
- English and Ghanaian languages in Ghana
- Hausa, other Nigerian languages and English in Nigeria
The traditional dress of the Fula in most places consists of long colorful flowing robes, modestly embroidered or otherwise decorated. Most Fula in the countryside spend long times alone on foot, moving their herds; they were the only major migrating people of West Africa, though most Fula now live in towns or villages.
The Fula have a rich musical culture and play a variety of traditional instruments including drums, hoddu (a plucked skin-covered lute similar to a banjo) and riti or riiti (a one-string bowed instrument similar to a violin), in addition to vocal music. The well known Senegalese Fula popular musician Baaba Maal sings in Pulaar on his recordings.
- Almanach de Bruxelles (now a paying site)
- Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.) (2005): "Adamawa Fulfulde". Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th ed. Dallas: SIL International. Accessed 25 June 2006.
- Ndukwe, Pat I., Ph.D. (1996). Fulani. New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
- WorldStatesmen - here Nigerian Traditional states