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This article is about the people of Nigeria. It is not to be confused with Nigerien.
Flag of Nigeria.svg
Regions with significant populations
 Nigeria 177,155,754[1]
 Benin 6,000,000[2]
 Cameroon 4,000,000[3]
 Ghana 1,000,000[4]
 United Kingdom 800,000[5]
 United States 266,000[6]
 Togo 200,000
 Ivory Coast 75,000
 Italy 53,613
 Spain 44,870
 Germany 40,000[7]
 South Africa 24,000[8]
 Canada 19,520[9]
 Ireland 16,300[10]
 China 15,000
 India 10,000
 Netherlands 9,453
 Austria 7,025[11]
 Japan 5,018
 Russia 5,000
 Australia 4,519[12]
 Greece 3,000[13]
 Morocco 2,500
 Norway 1,780[14]
 Belgium 1,636[11]
 Poland 1,500
 France 1,425[11]

Nigerians or Nigerian people are citizens and/or people with ancestry from Nigeria.[15] Nigeria is composed of multiple ethnic groups and cultures and the term Nigerian refers to a citizenship-based civic nationality.[15] Nigerians derive from over 250 ethnic groups and languages.[16] Though there are multiple ethnic groups in Nigeria, economic factors result in significant mobility of Nigerians of multiple ethnic and religious backgrounds to reside in territories in Nigeria that are outside their ethnic or religious background, resulting in the intermixing of the various ethnic and religious groups, especially in Nigeria's cities.[17] The English language is the lingua franca of Nigerians.[18] About 50 percent of Nigerians are Muslims and the other 50 percent are Christians.[19]

Nigerians come from multiple ethnic and religious backgrounds as the creation of Nigeria was the result of a colonial creation by the British Empire that did not correlate with ethnic and religious boundaries.[18]

There have been several major historical states in Nigeria that have influenced Nigerian society via their strong kings and their advanced legal and taxation systems, and the use of religion to legitimize the power of the king and to unite the people.[20] Northern Nigeria has been culturally influenced by Islamic influence including several major historic Islamic states in the region.[20] The Kanem-Bornu Empire and the Sokoto Caliphate were major historical Islamic states in northern Nigeria.[20] Southern Nigeria historically held several powerful states, including the Benin Empire and Oyo Empire, Ife Empire and several other Yoruba states.[20]

Nigerian culture was profoundly affected by the British colonial rule.[21] Such as British colonial authorities' denouncements and attacks upon polygamy, trial by ordeal, and certain types of sacrifices.[21] At the same time, British colonial authorities maintained and promoted traditional Nigerian culture that strengthened colonial administration.[21] The British spread Christianity throughout southern Nigeria and Christian missionaries assisted British authorities in establishing a Western-style education system in Nigeria that resulted in the teaching of the English language in Nigeria and its subsequent adoption as Nigeria's main language.[21] The British replaced unpaid household labour with wage labour.[21] Prior to colonization in the twentieth century, Nigeria's tribes usually possessed the land as a community, such that land could not be bought or sold.[16] Colonization brought the notion of individuals owning land and commercialization of land began.[16]

In Nigeria a majority of seventy percent of Nigerians live in villages of two types: the first type used by the Igbo and Tiv involves a collection of dispersed compounds, the second type used amongst the Hausa, Yoruba, and Kanuri involves nucleous of compounds.[19] These villages compose members of the ethnicity related through ancestry as well as strangers who have been assimilated into the ethnicity.[19] Since the time prior to colonization to the present it has been common practice of Nigeria's tribes to adopt strangers into the tribes.[16] A male elder commonly serves as a village chief.[19]

In Nigeria's large cities, there is substantial intermingling of Nigerians with foreigners, especially Europeans, Lebanese, and Indians.[17] The economic importance of Nigeria's cities has resulted in migrations of people from their traditional ethnic or cultural homeland to cities outside those territories.[17] Igbo and Ibibio people have commonly migrated to Lagos and many southerners migrate to the north to trade or work while a number of northerner seasonal workers and small-scale entrepreneurs go to the south.[17]

Ethnic, religious, and regional disputes and tensions have commonly divided Nigerians on political issues.[22] In particular, cultural and political divisions between the Muslim north and the Christian south has politicized religion and caused significant political disputes in Nigeria.[22] Ethnic-motivated and religious-motivated violence by extremists has increased these tensions as well.[18]

However in spite of instances of extremism, most Nigerians continue to peacefully coexist with each other, and a common Nigerian identity has been fostered amongst the more-educated and affluent Nigerians as well as with the many Nigerians who leave small homogeneous ethnic communities to seek economic opportunities in the cities where the population is ethnically mixed.[18] Although there are cultural divisions amongst Nigerians, Nigerians commonly use the English language as their primary language.[18] Also, most Nigerians share a strong commitment to individual liberties and democracy.[18] Even during periods of military rule, such military governments were pressured to maintain democratic stances by the Nigerian people.[18] Nigeria's political figures commonly know multiple indigenous languages outside their own indigenous language.[18]


  1. ^ "The World Factbook". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Our Reporter. "EXCLUSIVE: As Benin Republic clocks 53: Over 6m Nigerians live in former Dahomey, 200 in jails but Amb Obisakin says ‘Nigeria is a power here, there’s no doubt about it’". 
  3. ^ Mark D. DeLancey, Rebecca Neh Mbuh. Historical Dictionary of the Republic of Cameroon. Scarecrow Press, 2010. p. 283.
  4. ^ Maguire, Ken (30 May 2010). "Nigerians fight bad reps in Ghana". Retrieved 6 January 2016. 
  5. ^ Dolapo Ajakaiye. Searching Greener Pastures. p. 77. (based on British Home Office report)
  6. ^ Ulrich Beck, Natan Sznaider, Rainer Winter. Global America?: The Cultural Consequences of Globalization. p. 216.
  7. ^ "Embassy begins head count of Nigerians living in Germany". Vanguard News. Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  8. ^ "After the bilateral: assessing the state of Nigeria-South African relations - SAFPI". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  9. ^ Statistics Canada 2006
  10. ^ McFadyen 2008, p. 55
  11. ^ a b c Statistik Austria. "STATISTIK AUSTRIA - Bevölkerung nach Staatsangehörigkeit und Geburtsland". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Australian Government Department of Immigration and Border Protection" (PDF). 
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Innvandrere og norskfødte med innvandrerforeldre - Tabeller - SSB". Retrieved 18 March 2015. 
  15. ^ a b April A. Gordon (2003). Ethnic diversity within nations. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc. p. 233. ISBN 1576076822. 
  16. ^ a b c d Toyin Falola. Culture and Customs of Nigeria. Westport, Connecticut, USA: Greenwood Press, 2001. p. 4.
  17. ^ a b c d Toyin Falola. Culture and Customs of Nigeria. Westport, Connecticut, USA: Greenwood Press, 2001. p. 8.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h April A. Gordon. Nigeria's Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, 2003. p. 233.
  19. ^ a b c d Toyin Falola. Culture and Customs of Nigeria. Westport, Connecticut, USA: Greenwood Press, 2001. p. 6.
  20. ^ a b c d Toyin Falola. Culture and Customs of Nigeria. Westport, Connecticut, USA: Greenwood Press, 2001. pp. 15-16.
  21. ^ a b c d e Toyin Falola. Culture and Customs of Nigeria. Westport, Connecticut, USA: Greenwood Press, 2001. p. 18.
  22. ^ a b April A. Gordon. Nigeria's Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, 2003. p. 111.

External link[edit]

Media related to People of Nigeria at Wikimedia Commons