How Many Ethnic Groups Are In Nigeria 

How Many Ethnic Groups Are In Nigeria

Nigeria is known to be one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world with over 250 distinct ethnic groups according to recent population census data. This high level of diversity is what gives Nigeria its rich cultural heritage and traditions. In this article, we analyze the number of Ethnic Groups In Nigeria and take a closer look at some of the major and minor ethnic groups that make up the socio-cultural fabric of the country.

Major Ethnic Groups in Nigeria

The three largest and most dominant ethnic groups in Nigeria that form over 60% of the population are:


The Hausa ethnic group has a population of over 65 million, making them the largest ethnic group in Nigeria. They are predominantly found in the northern states of the country such as Kano, Kaduna, Jigawa, etc and the majority practice Islam.


The Yoruba people are the second largest ethnic group with over 35 million people concentrated in southwestern Nigeria, mainly in the states of Osun, Oyo, Ondo, Ekiti, Lagos, etc. Christianity and Islam are the dominant religions among the Yoruba.

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The Igbo ethnic nationality has a population of over 30 million people located majorly in the southeastern region of Nigeria including Anambra, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, Imo, etc. Christianity is widely practiced among the Igbo people.

Minor Ethnic Groups in Nigeria

In addition to the major ethnic groups, there are several smaller ethnic groups scattered across Nigeria’s geographical zones with their own unique cultures and traditions. Here are some of the notable minor ethnic groups:

Tiv ethnic group

The Tiv ethnic group is based in Benue State in central Nigeria with a population of over 5 million people. Their main economic activity is farming and they have various cultural festivals.

Ijaw ethnic group

The Ijaw people are a coastal group found mainly in the Niger Delta region with a population of about 10 million. Fishing and farming are their major means of livelihood.


The nomadic Fulani cattle herders can be found spread across many northern and central states with a total population of over 8 million.


The Ibibio ethnic nationality inhabits parts of Akwa Ibom State with about 5 million people engaging majorly in farming and trading.


The Kanuri ethnic group is based in Borno State and other neighboring states with a population of approximately 4 million. They have a rich tradition of pottery, weaving, and craftsmanship.


The Igala ethnic group is based in Kogi State in central Nigeria with a population of about 3 million people concentrated around Idah and other areas. They are predominantly farmers and fishermen.


The Idoma ethnic nationality has a population of over 2 million located mainly in Benue State in the middle belt region of Nigeria. Their economy revolves around farming and animal husbandry.

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The Nupe ethnic group has its homeland in Niger State in North Central Nigeria with a population of approximately 3 million. Islam and Christianity are widely practiced among the Nupe people alongside their traditions.


The Ebira ethnic group inhabits parts of Kogi State with a population of over 2.5 million people engaged mostly in farming and trading produce like beniseed.


The Bassa Komo ethnic nationality inhabits parts of Kogi, Nassarawa, and Plateau States with an estimated population of 2 million. Farming is their primary economic activity.


The Idoma people with a population of about 2 million are located in the central part of Benue State. They are predominantly farmers and traders.


The Igala ethnic group based in Kogi State has a population of around 3 million people engaged majorly in farming, fishing and trading along the Niger River.


The Igbira ethnic group found mainly in Kogi State has a population of approximately 1.5 million people involved in farming and local craftworks.


The Igede ethnic nationality in Benue State has an estimated population of 260,000 with farming as their primary occupation. They celebrate the New Yam festival annually.

The Numbers

According to data estimates from Nigeria’s National Population Commission, in 2024 Nigeria is home to over 400 ethnic groups with varying population sizes. While the three largest ethnic groups; Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo account for around 70% of the total population, the over 250 smaller minority groups, most with less than 5,000 members, collectively represent around 30% of Nigerians. Older studies put the number of ethnic groups in Nigeria at between 250-500 but experts suggest more thorough data collection could even uncover over 1000 tribes or subtribes due to inter-mixing.

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The exact number of Ethnic Groups in Nigeria therefore remains subject to ongoing research and population surveys. But it is clear Nigeria stands as one of the most ethnically diverse nations globally, making it a true cultural melting pot.


What are the top 10 largest ethnic groups in Nigeria?

The top 10 largest ethnic groups based on population size are Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani, Ibibio, Tiv, Kanuri, Ijaw, Edo, and Ebira.

What language groups are found in Nigeria?

The major language groups spoken in Nigeria include Niger-Congo, Afro-Asiatic, and others. Examples are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulfulde, English, and over 500 minority languages.

Which ethnic group was the first to settle in Nigeria?

Most scholars agree that the earliest settlers were the Nok culture who were located in Nigeria as far back as 1000 BC but little is known about their ethnicity. However, some researchers identify the Ijaw ethnic group as potentially the oldest ethnic group based on linguistic analysis dating some Ijaw dialects back 5,000 years.

Which state has the highest diversity of ethnic groups?

Cross River State is considered the most ethnically diverse Nigerian state with over 40 different ethnic groups located within its boundaries. This includes the Ejagham, Efut, Bette, Boki, Mbo, etc.

Which ethnic group has the largest population in Africa?

The Hausa ethnic group, which is predominantly found in Nigeria and Niger, has been identified as the largest single ethnic group in Africa with an estimated population of over 70 million people spread across several countries.


In conclusion, Nigeria stands proudly as one of the most ethnically diverse nations globally with over 400 distinct ethnic groups coexisting within its borders according to recent estimates. While a few major groups dominate in terms of population size, it is the beautiful mosaic of hundreds of smaller minority tribes and their rich cultural heritage that truly makes Nigeria unique. Continued research will enhance our understanding of how many ethnic groups are in Nigeria and our appreciation for the diverse tapestry of peoples and cultures that define modern-day Nigeria.


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