Nigeria is a land of diverse cultures, speaking a multitude of different languages. Despite our differences, there is real beauty in our diversity. The Federal Ministry of Tourism and Culture in its Fascinating Nigeria Magazine published the biggest cultural groups in Nigeria.
Here are the 10 biggest cultural groups in Nigeria as of 2014;
Yoruba and Hausa
The Yoruba and Hausa are estimated to constitute about 21% of Nigeria’s population each. This means that the two cultures together almost make up half of Nigeria’s population.
Another amazing fact is that the two cultures extend significantly beyond Nigeria, with the Yorubas also found in Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso and Niger. In Nigeria, we have an estimated 35 million Yoruba people.
The Hausas on the other hand can be found in great numbers in south eastern Niger. They are also found in parts of Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Chad, Togo, Ghana, Sudan, and Gabon. Just like the Yorubas, there are about 35 million Hausa people in Nigeria.
The Igbo people found mostly in South Eastern Nigeria and some parts of the South South constitute 18% of the population of Nigeria. Due to the effects of migration and the Atlantic slave trade, there are descendant ethnic Igbo populations in countries such as Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea, as well as outside Africa. Their exact population outside Africa is unknown, but today many African Americans and Afro Caribbeans are of Igbo descent.
There are an estimated 32 million Igbo people in Nigeria alone.
Constituting 11% of Nigeria’s population, the Fulani people are some of the most widely dispersed and culturally diverse of the peoples of Africa – and one of the most misunderstood too, if one might add. The Fulani are Africa’s biggest nomadic group, with their largest population outside Nigeria being found in Guinea, Cameroon, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Sudan, and Chad.
Their population is roughly estimated at 20 million peoples, with 13 million being nomads.
The Efik, Annang and Ibibio people even though slightly different cultures are mostly grouped into one as they speak the same languages and originate from largely the same place.
These people are mainly found in Akwa Ibom and Cross River States of Nigeria and make up 7% of the nation’s population. They are also found in southwestern Cameroon including Bakassi, Ghana, Cameroon.
The Kanuri people constitute 6% of Nigeria’s population and are found largely in the lands of the former Kanem and Bornu Empires in Niger, Nigeria and Cameroon. Some of the cultures called Kanuri are made up of various sub groups and dialects, as well.
There an approximate 7 million Kanuris in Nigeria.
Edo or Bini is the name for the place, people and language of this ethnic group. Other Edo-speaking ethnic groups include the Esan, the Afemai, the Owan among others.
They make up 3% of Nigeria’s population.
The Edo are the descendants of the people who founded the former Benin Empire, which was located in South/Mid-Western Nigeria, encompassing what is now the Edo State of Nigeria, as well as surrounding areas.
Tiv, Nupe and Ijaw
These three different tribes each make up 2% of Nigeria’s population.
The Tiv people, who are some of Nigeria’s biggest Agricultural producers are mostly found in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba. Outside Nigeria, they are found in neighbouring Cameroon. The estimated population of Tiv people in both Nigeria and Cameroon is 2 million people.
The Ijaw are a collection of peoples indigenous mostly to the forest regions of the Bayelsa, Delta, and Rivers States within the Niger Delta in Nigeria. Some are resident in Akwa-Ibom, Edo, and Ondo states also in Nigeria. Outside Nigeria, they can be found mostly in Sierra Leone and as far east as Gabon along the Western Africa coastline.
The Nupe, traditionally called the Tapa by the neighbouring Yoruba, are an ethnic group located primarily in the Middle Belt and northern Nigeria, and are the dominant group in Niger State and an important minority in Kwara State.