There are about 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria, with varying languages, cultures and values. This had made the country culturally diverse. However, majority of the population belongs to a few ethnic groups which are known as the major ethnic groups in Nigeria (Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo).
These ethnic groups accounts for about 70% of the population of the country. Aside these, there are some other ethnic groups such as the Urhobo-Isoko, Edo, Ijaw, Kanuri, Ibibio, Ebira, Nupe, Gwari, Jukun, Igala, Idoma whom can also be termed as majority.
This article will discuss the list of 25 major ethnic groups in Nigeria together with the states they can be found and other interesting details.
The Hausa-Fulani ethnic group is the largest ethnic group in Nigeria. The 2 ethnic groups; Hausa and Fulani are actually separate but since the Fulani War, the Fulani people have been intertwined with the Hausa People of Nigeria and as such, they are now been seen as one.
The Hausa ethnic group account for about 25% of the Nigerian population. Together with the Fulanis, they account for about 29% of the nation’s population. Aside Nigeria, they are also found in some North African countries.
The Hausa-Fulani are mostly Muslims. Hausa Language is the most popular language in the country and the most spoken in Northern Nigeria. People form the Hausa and Fulani tribes are found in states like Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, etc.
Due to their population, they had been dominating the Nigerian political atmosphere since independence. The Emirs are the leaders of these people with the Sultan of Sokoto being the overhead.
The south west dominating Yoruba ethnic group account for about 21% of the Nigerian population making them one of the major ethnic groups in Nigeria. The language is also being spoken in Benin. They are usually Christians or Muslims.
However, a large number of their populations are traditional worshipers. Oba is the name of ruler in Yoruba land. The Yoruba tribes are found in states like Lagos, Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ekiti, Ondo, Kwara and Kogi state.
The Igbo speaking people are located mostly in the south east geopolitical zone of Nigeria. Igbo is the major language in states such as Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Imo and Ebonyi. People of this ethnic group are also found in states like Rivers, Delta, Cross River and Benue state respectively.
Aside these, they are also found in almost all places in the country as a result of their entrepreneurial skills. This tribe has at a time, wanted to split away from Nigeria and they are still agitating for that. They account for roughly about 20% of the Nigerian population.
The Ijaw ethnic group is the largest ethnic group in Nigeria aside the three above. It accounts for 10% of the Nigerian population.
The people of this ethnic division live mostly in the Niger Delta states in Nigeria which is the oil producing region in Nigeria.
However, due to corruption, the dividend of oil is not seen in the lives of the people. The Niger Delta region is one of the most populated regions due to the activities of oil companies.
This is one of the dominate language in the North East. While people see everybody from the extreme north as being either Hausa or Fulani, this is far from the truth.
It is because of this that every Hausa man is seen as a potential Boko Haram member when in fact, Boko Haram originate from the Kanuri speaking people.
There are a large number of people speaking Kanuri in Kaduna, Adamawa, Borno, Kano, Niger, Jigawa, Plateau, Taraba and Yobe.
The Efik-Ibibio ethnic groups are some of the minority ethnic groups in Nigeria. They are mostly Christians and live in the South South part of the country with bulk of their population being in Akwa Ibom and Cross River.
The Efik, Annang and Ibibio people though slightly different are culturally grouped into one as they speak almost the same languages and originate from the same place.
The Edo ethnic group is also known as Bini. They are the descendants of the people that founded the former Benin Empire which was located in South/Mid-Western Nigeria.
The people of this ethnic group are mostly found as indigenes in Edo state.
Tiv, Idoma & Jukun
The Tiv ethnic group is one of the minorities with a large number of population. They are mostly farmers and are one of the largest agricultural producing tribes in Nigeria. They are found mostly in Benue, Taraba and Nasarawa.
The Idomas on the other hand are also agricultural and together with Tiv, they earned Benue state “the food basket of the nation” slogan. They are also found in states like the Nasarawa, Cross River, Kogi and Taraba states respectively.
Jukun is a Jukunoid language of Cameroon used as a trade language in Nigeria. The Jukun tribe can be found in states such as Bauchi, Benue, Taraba and Plateau state.
The Igala ethnic group is the dominant ethnic group in Kogi state.
The Igala language as well as Igala culture and tradition have influenced other languages and cultures around the confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers.
The Igala ethnic group can be found in a substantial number in Enugu, Anambra, Delta and Edo state.
The Ebira or Egbira people on the other hand are an ethno-linguistic group of central Nigeria.
Many Ebira people are from Kogi State, Kwara State, Nasarawa State and Edo State.
Okene was said to be the administrative centre of the Ebira-speaking people in Kogi state before kogi was formed from Kwara, not far from the Niger-Benue confluence.
The Nupe, traditionally known as the Tapa by the Yorubas are located primarily in the Middle Belt and Northern Nigeria and are the dominant ethnic group in Niger state and and important minority in Kwara state.
The Gbagyi/Gbari ethnic groups are predominantly found in Central Nigeria, with a population of about 15 million people.
Members of the ethnic group are known as Gwari by other tribes but they prefer to be called Gbagyi.
Gbagyi is the most populated ethnic and indigenous group in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria and their major occupation is farming. They are also found in Niger and Kaduna state.
Urhobo-Isolo, Ikwerre & Itsekiri
These 3 ethnic groups in Nigeria are located in the Niger Delta region. The Urhobo-Isolo and Itsekiri are located in Delta state while the Ikwerre people are one of the dominating ethnic groups in Rivers.
Berom, Atyap, Jabba, Bajju & Kulu
The North Central had been described as one of the most diverse zone in Nigeria and looking at number of ethnic groups in this region, this is not far from the truth.
All the 4 ethnic groups can be found in Kaduna state except Berom which is found in Plateau state.