Sokoto had been used as early as October 1804 by the Shehu Usmanu Dan Fodiyo as the venue for the meeting with Galadima, Yunfa's Vizier. Subsequently, it was used by Muhammad Bello as a staging post for an attack on Dufua in the spring of 1806. Bovil suggested that the area/district may have been known as Sokoto as early as seventeenth century. In historical perspective, Sokoto was founded as ribat (military camp or frontier) in 1809 When Shehu Usmanu was at Sifawa. It later became the capital of the caliphate after Shehu's death.
In the 1820s, Sokoto was at peak of prosperity coinciding with the peak of its `rulers' powers at the center of the caliphate, receiving annual tribute from all the fiefs before a long period of decline. The explorers Hugh Clapperton (1827) were highly impressed by this prosperity and its effects on the city.
Clapperton noted the importance of Sokoto's close-settled zone around. The rivers, rather than long-distance trade. In the city's economy. The trade of Sokoto is at present inconsiderable, owing to the disturbed state of the surrounding country.
By the time the explorer Heinrich Barth arrived in 1853 Sokoto was thinly inhabited and greatly dilapidated. Barth in 1857, estimated the population at only 20,000–22,000 but the market was still supplied and attended, and a thriving suburb outside the wall was more animated than Sokoto itself.
Bovil aptly described Sokoto that is position was strong, steep escarpments from the east to the north-west and a small valley on the west and the south west protected it against surprised cavalry attacks. The town dominates the broad lowland where the two rivers, Rima and Sokoto meet, being the junction of roads from Gobir in the north. Kebbi in the south and Burmi Zamfara in the east.
In the early 19th century, the town (Sokoto) was divided into wards. Such wards include Magajin Gari ward, Waziri ward, Sarkin Musulmi ward, Sarkin Adar ward, Magajin Rafi ward,