|Regions with significant populations|
Nigerians or Nigerian people are citizens of Nigeria or people with ancestry from Nigeria. Nigeria is composed of multiple ethnic groups and cultures and the term Nigerian refers to a citizenship-based civic nationality. Nigerians derive from over 250 ethnic groups and languages. 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. The English language is the lingua franca of Nigerians. About 50 percent of Nigerians are Muslims and the other 50 percent are Christians.
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.
There have been several major historical states in Nigeria that have influenced Nigerian society via their kings and their legal and taxation systems, and the use of religion to legitimize the power of the king and to unite the people. Northern Nigeria has been culturally influenced by Islamic influence including several major historic Islamic states in the region. The Kanem-Bornu Empire and the Sokoto Caliphate were major historical Islamic states in northern Nigeria. Southern Nigeria historically held several powerful states, including the Benin Empire and Oyo Empire, Ife Empire and several other Yoruba states.
Nigerian culture was profoundly affected by the British colonial rule. Such as British colonial authorities' denouncements and attacks upon polygamy, trial by ordeal, and certain types of sacrifices. At the same time, British colonial authorities maintained and promoted traditional Nigerian culture that strengthened colonial administration. 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. The British replaced unpaid household labour with wage labour. 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. Colonization brought the notion of individuals owning land and commercialization of land began.
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. These villages compose members of the ethnicity related through ancestry as well as strangers who have been assimilated into the ethnicity. Since the time prior to colonization to the present it has been common practice of Nigeria's tribes to adopt strangers into the tribes. A male elder commonly serves as a village chief.
In Nigeria's large cities, there is substantial intermingling of Nigerians with foreigners, especially Europeans, Lebanese, and Indians. 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. 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.
Ethnic, religious, and regional disputes and tensions have commonly divided Nigerians on political issues. In particular, cultural and political divisions between the Muslim north and the Christian south has politicized religion and caused significant political disputes in Nigeria. Ethnic-motivated and religious-motivated violence by extremists has increased these tensions as well.
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. Although there are cultural divisions amongst Nigerians, Nigerians commonly use the English language as their primary language. Also, most Nigerians share a strong commitment to individual liberties and democracy. Even during periods of military rule, such military governments were pressured to maintain democratic stances by the Nigerian people. Nigeria's political figures commonly know multiple indigenous languages outside their own indigenous language.
Nigerians shopping in a mall in Lagos
Yoruba Nigerian men of Kwara origin, wearing traditional clothing and playing drums
Horseman at the Kano Durbar festival
Igbo Nigerian men, wearing the modern Isiagu with traditional Igbo men's hat
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- April A. Gordon. Nigeria's Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, 2003. p. 111.
Media related to People of Nigeria at Wikimedia Commons