Top 10 Largest Ethnic Groups In Nigeria


Nigeria is a country located in West Africa.
The country is also known as the giant of Africa because of its population and strong economy.

Nigeria is one of the most culturally diverse country in the world,there are over 250 ethnic groups in Nigeria that speak over 500 languages and dialects.

There are 36 states that make up Nigeria.

In this post we are going to take a look at the top 10 largest ethnic groups in Nigeria and the states in Nigeria where they can be found.
The estimated population of Nigeria currently should be over 200 million but the official population figure is pegged at around 170 million.

Top 10 Largest Ethnic Groups In Nigeria

1. Hausa - Fulani

The Hausa - Fulani has been estimated to be the largest ethnic group in Nigeria.

This group is actually a combination of two ethnic groups which are the Hausa and the Fulani. These group make up about 25% of the Nigerian population.

The Hausa - Fulani people live mostly in:-
  • Katsina
  • Sokoto
  • Borno
  • Kebbi
  • Bauchi
  • Niger
  • Kaduna
  • Taraba
  • Yobe and Gombe state.

This group are herdsmen known for raising cattle and other livestock. The Hausa - Fulani people are predominantly Muslims.
This ethnic stock has been actively involved in Nigeria’s politics at the highest level,however northern states are the most impoverished states in Nigeria with the highest birth rate more than any other state in Nigeria.

2. Yoruba

The Yoruba's make up approximately 21% of the population of Nigeria.

The 2nd largest ethnic group in Nigeria is the Yoruba.  

The Yoruba's are both christians and muslims,this tribe live mostly in the south south region of the country.

They also play a major role in Nigeria politics.Yoruba's can be found mostly in the following states:- 

  • Oyo
  • Ogun
  • Kwara
  • Lagos
  • Osun
  • Ondo
  • Ekiti and Kogi State.

3. Igbo

The Igbo's live in the eastern part of Nigeria and are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa with a population of about 34 million in 2017.

In Nigeria however, they are the third largest ethnic group. The Igbo's are predominantly Christians and are also highly urbanized.

Some of the cities where Igbo's thrive include:-

  • Onitsha
  • Enugu
  • Aba
  • Owerri
  • Orlu
  • Okigwe
  • Asaba
  • Awka
  • Nsukka
  • Nnewi
  • Umuahia
  • Abakaliki
  • Afikpo and Arochukwu.

There was a two and half year confrontation with the Nigerian government by the Igbo's for the actualization of a sovereign country named 'Biafra' which ended in defeat for the Igbo's in the 1960's.
The Igbo tribe has continued to complain of marginalization by the government and has continued to push for the actualization of a sovereign nation named Biafra out of the present day Nigeria.

The Igbo's are also very successful business individuals and are among the highly educated tribes in Nigeria.

4. Ijaw

The 4th largest ethnic group in Nigeria is the Ijaw ethnic group. 

The ethnic group is usually referred to as the people Niger delta.

The Ijaw's can be found in:-

  • Bayelsa
  • Delta
  • Ondo
  • Akwa Ibom and Rivers state Nigeria. The Ijaws constitute about 10% of the population of Nigeria.

The ijaws which live in the Niger delta region of the country,an area which is rich in oil and also has the presence of different multinational oil companies.

Despite the abundance of oil from this region,it's still not properly developed in terms of infrastructure and good amenities.

5. Kanuri

The Kanuri is an ethnic tribe that live in northeastern Nigeria.

The tribe make up about 4% of Nigeria's population. 

The Kanuri are predominately Sunni Muslims,they can 
be found mainly in Maiduguri, Borno State, Nigeria. 
The traditional ruler of this tribe is called The Shehu "Sheikh" of Bornu.

6. Efik / Ibibio

The Efik or Ibibio tribe is the 6th largest tribe in Nigeria. They contribute to about 3.5% of the population of Nigeria.

The Ibibio people are predominantly christians.They can be found in Akwa-Ibom and Cross-River state Nigeria.

The tribe can also be found in small hamlets in Cameroon bacause of the boundary shared between the cross river state and Cameroon.

7. Tiv

The Tiv ethnic group make up about 3.5% of the Nigerian population,the Tiv group are well known for their agricultural produce and trading as they produce a lot of edible foods consumed by the nation.
The Tiv ethnic group is found mostly in Benue State.

8. Edo

The Edo or Bini ethnic group is one of the ethnic groups in Nigeria. The people of Edo can be found mostly in Edo state and they speak the Edo language.

The Edo people are descendants of the Benin Empire,they are approximately 8 million Edo people in Nigeria.

9. Idoma

The population of the Idoma is estimated to be about 4 million and are found mostly in Benue state.
Idoma people can also be found in Cross Rivers State, Enugu State and Nasarawa State in Nigeria.

10. Igala

The Igala people can be found mostly in Benue state with an estimated population of about 1.5 million.

They are one of the tribes in Nigeria,they are known mostly for their Agriculture and steel industry.