The Gap

Ethnic groups in Nigeria and where you can find them

Ethnic groups in Nigeria and where you can find them

The idea of ethnic groups in Nigeria started back in the parliamentary system of government in 1960. Nigeria was divided into three major regions – Western, Northern, and Eastern. These regions were mostly occupied by what we now know as the three major ethnic groups – Yoruba, Hausa, and Igbo.

In 1963, the Mid-Western Region was created from the Western region, which made it four regions. However, the idea of three major ethnic groups remained and hasn’t changed till today.

Today, Nigeria has six geo-political zones made up of the North-West, North-Central, North-East, South-West, South-East, and South-South. With 250 ethnic groups and over 500 languages, Nigeria is a country rich with diverse peoples and cultures.

What is an ethnic group?

Britannica refers to an ethnic group as a social group or category of the population that, in a larger society, is set apart and bound together by common ties of race, language, nationality, or culture. It is a group of people who share similar culture, values, customs, and tradition that is unique to them and binds them together.

Major ethnic groups in Nigeria

As previously stated, there are three major ethnic groups in Nigeria – Igbo, Hausa and Yoruba.


Igbo people at an event

The Igbo are people of southeastern Nigeria made up of five states – Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states. Some of the Igbo population are also in Rivers and Delta States. According to the New World Encyclopedia, Igbo constitute about 17 percent of the Nigerian population. The Igbo language is part of the Niger-Congo language family.

The origin of the Igbo race remains largely unknown. However, a popular myth says the people originated from Nri, the birthplace of the patriarchal king-figure Eri. Before the advent of colonialism, the people operated a quasi-democratic system of government where there were no kings. Instead, each community had elders, also known as umunna, who decided the affairs of the people. Under colonialism, the Igbo became Christians and developed a strong sense of identity.

The people of the region are known to be intelligent, enduring, and industrious. However, they have struggled to politically integrate with the rest of the Nigerian population since the 1960s, which has seen the civil war where they attempted to secede and form the Republic of Biafra. The struggle is still on, with various groups like the MASSOB and IPOB springing with the mission to break the region away from the rest of the country.

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Hausa people at an event

The Hausa ethnic group is the largest in Northern Nigeria, particularly the North-West. The people speak Hausa and are also the largest group in West and Central Africa. Hausa is the second most spoken language after Arabic in both Africa and Asia. Daura, the birthplace of Nigeria’s current President, Mohammadu Buhari, is the oldest city of Hausaland.

However, the people were conquered by the Fulanis in the 14th century, which spread the Islamic religion in the region. The Fulanis have long integrated with the Hausas, adopting the language and inter-marrying with them. The Hausa operate a monarchical system of government where the Emir and Sultan are the supreme leaders. During colonial rule, the British operated a successful indirect rule system through the emirs.

The Hausa are generally known to be peaceful people but highly religious, which usually brings out their brutal sides when provoked. The people depend mostly depend on agriculture through the cultivation of sorghum, corn (maize), millet, and many other crops grown on rotation principles. They are also known to be politically savvy as they control they make up the majority of the voting population in Nigeria.


Yoruba people at an event

The Yoruba people, also known as Ìran Yorùbá, Ọmọ Odùduwà, Ọmọ Káàárọ̀-oòjíire form the major population in South-West Nigeria made up of Ekiti, Lagos, Ondo, Ogun, Osun, and Oyo states. Some of the people are also scattered in Benin and northern Togo. The people speak Yoruba, a Benue-Congo branch of the Niger-Congo language family.

The people are mostly farmers, growing yams, corn (maize), millet as staples and plantains, peanuts (groundnuts), beans, and peas as subsidiary crops, while cocoa remains the major cash crop. Others are traders and craftsmen. In fact, the Yoruba are known to be one the most skilled and productive craftsmen of Africa as they have been involved in the trade through blacksmithing, weaving, leatherworking, glassmaking, and ivory and wood carving.

Like the Hausas, the people operate a monarchical system of government where a king known as Oba was in charge, but his reign is checkmated by the cabinet. The people are known to strongly hold onto their culture, which is why the ancient kingdoms of Ile-Ife and Oyo still exist today. Also, many of the Yorubas are Christians and Moslems, but the indigenous traditional religion still exists.

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Minor ethnic groups in Nigeria

Here is a list of minor ethnic groups in Nigeria and where they are located:

Name of Ethnic Group State
Abayon Cross River State
Abua (Odual) Rivers State
Achipa (Achipawa) Kebbi State
Adara (Kadara) Kaduna State, Niger State
Affade Yobe State
Afizere Plateau State
Afo (Eloyi) Nasarawa State
Agbo Cross River State
Akaju-Ndem (Akajuk) Cross River State
Akweya-Yachi Benue State
Alago (Arago) Nasarawa State
Amo Plateau State
Anaguta Plateau State
Anaang Akwa Ibom State
Andoni Akwa Ibom State, Rivers State
Ankwei Plateau State
Anyima Cross River State
Atyap (Kataf/Katab, Attakar, Kagoro, Kafanchan, Marwa/Manchok) Kaduna State
Auyoka (Sub-Hausa) Jigawa State
Awori Lagos State, Ogun State
Ayu Kaduna State
Bura-Pabir Adamawa State, Borno State, Yobe State
Bachama Adamawa State
Bachere Cross River State
Bada Plateau State
Bade Yobe State
Baggara Arabs Borno State
Bahumono Cross River State
Bakulung Taraba State
Bali Taraba State
Bambora (Bambarawa) Bauchi State
Bambuko Taraba State
Bajju (Kaje, Kajji) Kaduna State
Banda (Bandawa) Taraba State
Banka (Bankalawa) Bauchi State
Banso (Panso) Adamawa State
Bara (Barawa) Bauchi State
Barke Bauchi State
Baruba (Batonu) Kwara State, Niger State
Bashiri (Bashirawa) Plateau State
Bassa Kaduna State, Kogi State, Niger State, Plateau State
Batta Adamawa State
Baushi Niger State
Baya Adamawa State
Bekwarra Cross River
Bele (Buli, Belewa) Bauchi State
Berom (Birom) Plateau State
Betso (Bete) Taraba State
Bette Cross River State
Bilei Adamawa State
Bille Rivers State
Bina (Binawa) Kaduna State
Bini (Edo) Edo State
Bobua Taraba State
Boki (Nki) Cross River State
Bokkos Plateau State
Boko (Bussawa, Bargawa) Niger State
Bole (Bolewa) Bauchi State, Gombe State, Yobe State
Botlere Adamawa State
Boma (Bomawa, Burmano) Bauchi State
Bomboro Bauchi State
Buduma Borno State,
Buji Plateau State
Buli Bauchi State
Bunu Kogi State
Bura-Pabir Adamawa State, Borno State, Yobe State
Burak Bauchi State
Burma (Burmawa) Plateau State
Buru Yobe State
Buta (Butawa) Bauchi State
Bwall Plateau State
Bwatiye Adamawa State
Bwazza Adamawa State
Challa Plateau State
Chama (Chamawa Fitilai) Bauchi State
Chamba Taraba State
Chamo Bauchi State
Chibok (Kibaku people) Borno State, Yobe State
Chinine Borno State
Chip Plateau State
Chokobo Plateau State
Chukkol Taraba State
Daba Adamawa State
Dadiya Bauchi State
Daka Adamawa State
Dakarkari Kebbi State, Niger State
Danda (Dandawa) Kebbi State
Dangsa Taraba State
Daza (Dere, Derewa) Bauchi State
Deno (Denawa) Bauchi State
Dghwede Borno State
Diba Taraba State
Doemak (Dumuk) Plateau State
Ouguri Bauchi State
Duka (Dukawa) Kebbi State
Dundudun (Dunka) Taraba State
Duma (Dumawa) Bauchi State
Ebana (Ebani) Rivers State
Ebira Edo State, Kogi State, Ondo State
Ebu Edo State, Kogi State
Efik Cross River State
Egbema Rivers State
Egede (Igede) Benue State, Cross River State
Eggon Nasarawa State
Egun (Gu) Lagos State, Ogun State
Ejagham Cross River State
Ekajuk Cross River State
Eket Akwa Ibom
Ekoi Cross River State
Ekpeye Rivers State
Engenni (Ngene) Rivers State
Epie Bayelsa State
Esan (Ishan) Edo State
Esit Ekid Akwa Ibom State
Etche Rivers State
Etolu (Etilo) Benue State
Etsako Edo State
Etung Cross River State
Etuno Edo State
Palli Adamawa State
Fulani Adamawa State, Bauchi State, Borno State, Gombe State, Jigawa State, Kaduna State, Kano State, Katsina State, Kebbi State, Kwara State, Niger State, Plateau State, Sokoto State, Taraba State, Yobe State, Zamfara State
Fyam (Fyem) Plateau State
Fyer(Fer) Plateau State
Ga’anda Adamawa State
Gade people Niger State Nasarawa State
Galambi Bauchi State
Gamergu-Mulgwa Borno State
Ganawuri Plateau State
Gavako Borno State
Gbedde Kogi State
Gengle Taraba State
Geji Bauchi State
Gera (Gere, Gerawa) Bauchi State
Geruma (Gerumawa) Plateau State
Geruma (Gerumawa) Bauchi State
Gingwak Bauchi State
Gira Adamawa State
Gizigz Adamawa State
Goemai Plateau State
Gokana (Kana) Rivers State
Gombi Adamawa State
Gornun (Gmun) Taraba State
Gonia Taraba State
Gubi (Gubawa) Bauchi State
Gude Adamawa State
Gudu Adamawa State
Gure Kaduna State
Gurmana Niger State
Gururntum Bauchi State
Gusu Plateau State
Gwa (Gurawa) Adamawa State
Gwamba Adamawa State
Gwandara Kaduna State, Niger State, Federal Capital Territory, Nasarawa State
Gwari (Gbagyi) Kaduna State, Federal Capital Territory Abuja, Nasarawa State, Niger State,

Kogi State

Gwong (Kagoma) Kaduna State
Gwom Taraba State
Gwoza (Waha) Borno State
Gyem Bauchi State
Ham (Hyam, Jaba, Jabba) Kaduna State
Holma Adamawa State
Hona Adamawa State
Ibani Rivers State
Ibeno Akwa Ibom State
Ibibio Akwa Ibom State
Ichen Adamawa State
Idoma Benue State, Cross River State, Kogi State, Nassarawa State
Igala Kogi State
Ijumu Kogi State
Ika Delta State, Edo State
Ikom Cross River State
Ikwerre Rivers State
Irigwe Plateau State
Iman Akwa Ibom State
Isoko Delta State, Bayelsa State
Itsekiri (Isekiri) Delta State, Edo State, Ogun State
Itu Akwa Ibom State
Itu Mbio Uso Akwa Ibom State
Iyala (Iyalla) Cross River State
Izon (Ijaw) Bayelsa State, Delta State, Edo State, Ondo State, Rivers State
Jahuna (Jahunawa) Taraba State
Jaku Bauchi State
Jara (Jaar Jarawa Jarawa-Dutse) Bauchi State
Jere (Jare, Jera, Jera, Jerawa) Bauchi State, Plateau State
Jero Taraba State
Jibu Adamawa State
Jidda-Abu Plateau State
Jimbin (Jimbinawa) Bauchi State
Jirai Adamawa State
Joinkrama Rivers State
Jonjo (Jenjo) Taraba State
Jukun Bauchi State, Benue State, Plateau State, Taraba State
Kaba (Kabawa) Taraba State
Kalabari Rivers State
Kajuru (Kajurawa) Kaduna State
Kaka Adamawa State
Kamaku (Karnukawa) Kaduna State, Kebbi State, Niger State
Kambari Kebbi State, Niger State
Kambu Adamawa State
Kamwe Adamawa State and Borno State
Kanakuru (Dera) Adamawa State, Borno State
Kanembu Borno State
Kanikon Kaduna State
Kantana Plateau State
Kanuri Adamawa State, Borno State, Taraba State, Yobe State
Karekare (Karaikarai) Bauchi State, Yobe State
Karimjo Taraba State
Kariya Bauchi State
Ke Rivers State
Kenern (Koenoem) Plateau State
Kenton Taraba State
Kiballo (Kiwollo) Kaduna State
Kilba Adamawa State
Kirfi (Kirfawa) Bauchi State
Kodei Taraba State
Kona Taraba State
Kono Kaduna State
Koro (Kwaro) Kaduna State, Niger State
Kubi (Kubawa) Bauchi State
Kudachano (Kudawa) Bauchi State
Kugama Taraba State
Kugbo Rivers State
Kulere (Kaler) Plateau State
Kunini Taraba State
Kurama(Akurmi) Kaduna State, Jigawa State
Kurdul Adamawa State
Kushi Bauchi State
Kuteb Taraba State
Kutin Taraba State
Kwalla Plateau State
Kwami (Kwom) Bauchi State
Kwanchi Taraba State
Kadung Bauchi State, Plateau State
Kwaro Plateau State
Kwato Plateau State
Kyenga (Kengawa) Kebbi State
Laaru (Larawa) Niger State
Lakka Adamawa State
Lala Adamawa State
Lama Taraba State
Lamja Taraba State
Lau Taraba State
Limono Bauchi State, Plateau State
Lopa (Lupa, Lopawa) Niger State
Longuda (Lunguda) Adamawa State, Bauchi State
Mabo Plateau State
Mada Kaduna State, Plateau State
Mama Plateau State
Mambilla Adamawa State
Mandara (Wandala) Borno State
Manga (Mangawa) Yobe State
Margi (Marghi) Adamawa State, Borno State
Mafa (Mofa) Adamawa State, Borno State
Mbembe Cross River State, Enugu State
Mbol Adamawa State
Mbube Cross River State
Mbula Adamawa State
Mbum Taraba State
Memyang (Meryan) Plateau State
Milighili (Mighili) Plateau State
Miya (Miyawa) Bauchi State
Mobber Borno State
Montol Plateau State
Moruwa (Moro’a, Morwa) Kaduna State
Muchaila Adamawa State
Mumuye Taraba State
Mundang Adamawa State
Munga (Lelau) Taraba State
Munga (Mupang) Plateau State
Mupun Plateau State
Mushere Plateau State
Mwahavul (Mwaghavul) Plateau State
Ndoro Taraba State
Ngas (Angas) Plateau State, Bauchi State
Ngizim Yobe State
Ngweshe (Ndhang.Ngoshe-Ndhang) Adamawa State, Borno State
Nyiffon Benue State
Ningi (Ningawa) Bauchi State
Ninzam (Ninzo) Kaduna State, Plateau State
Njayi Adamawa State
Nkim Cross River State
Nkum Cross River State
Nokere (Nakere) Plateau State
Nunku Kaduna State, Plateau State
Nupe Kogi State, Kwara State, Niger State
Nyam Taraba State
Nyandang Taraba State
Obolo Rivers State, Akwa Ibom
Ododop Cross River
Ogori Kogi State
Ogoni Akwa Ibom State, Rivers State
Ogba Rivers State
Okobo (Okkobor) Akwa Ibom State
Okirika Rivers State
Okpamheri Edo State
Olukumi Delta State
Oron Akwa Ibom State

Cross River State

Ososo Edo State
Owan Edo State
Owe Kogi State
Oworo Kogi State
Pa’a (Pa’awa Afawa) Bauchi State
Pai Plateau State
Panyam Taraba State
Pero Bauchi State
Pire Adamawa State
Pkanzom Taraba State
Poll Taraba State
Polchi Habe Bauchi State
Pongo (Pongu) Niger State
Potopo Taraba State
Pyapun (Piapung) Plateau State
Qua Cross River State
Rebina (Rebinawa) Bauchi State
Reshe Kebbi State, Niger State
Rindire (Rendre) Plateau State
Rishuwa Kaduna State
Ron Plateau State
Rubu Niger State
Rukuba Plateau State
Rumada Kaduna State
Rumaya Kaduna State
Sakbe Taraba State
Sanga Bauchi State
Sate Taraba State
Saya (Sayawa Za’ar) Bauchi State, Kaduna State, Plateau State
Segidi (Sigidawa) Bauchi State
Shanga (Shangawa) Kebbi State
Shangawa (ShanKadunagau) Plateau State
Shan-Shan Plateau State
Shira (Shira ) Bauchi State
Shomo Taraba State
Shuwa Adamawa State, Borno State, Kaduna State, Yobe State
Sikdi Plateau State
Siri (Sirawa) Bauchi State
Srubu (Surubu) Kaduna State
Sukur Adamawa State
Sura Plateau State
Tangale Gombe State
Tarok (Yergam) Plateau State, Taraba State, Nasarawa State
Teme Adamawa State
Tera (Terawa) Bauchi State, Borno State
Teshena (Teshenawa) Kano State
Tigon Taraba State
Tikar Taraba State
Tiv Benue State, FCT, Nasarawa State, Niger State, Plateau State, Taraba State
Tula Gombe State
Tur Adamawa State
Ubbo Adamawa State
Udekeama Rivers State
Ufia Benue State
Ukelle Cross River State
Ukwani (Kwale) Delta State
Uncinda Kaduna State, Kebbi State, Niger State,
Uneme (Ineme) Edo State
Ura (Ula) Niger State
Urhobo Delta State, Bayelsa State.
Utonkong Benue State
Uwanno (Weppa-Wanno) Edo State
Uyanga Cross River State
Vemgo Adamawa State
Verre Adamawa State
Vommi Taraba State
Wagga Adamawa State
Waja Bauchi State
Waka Taraba State
Warja (Warja) Bauchi State
Warji Bauchi State
Wurbo Adamawa State
Wurkun Taraba State
Yache Cross River State
Yagba Kogi State
Yakurr (Yako) Cross River State
Yalla Benue State
Yandang Adamawa State, Taraba State
Yott Taraba State
Yumu Niger State
Yungur Adamawa State
Yuom Plateau State
Zabara Niger State
Zaranda Bauchi State
Zarma (Zarmawa) Kebbi State
Zayam (Zeam) Bauchi State
Zul (Zulawa) Bauchi State

The state with the most ethnic groups

Lagos State is the only state in Nigeria where you can find over 200 ethnic groups and languages. This is because the state is the commercial centre in Nigeria where the majority of manufacturing, trade and commerce takes place and has attracted people all over the country and beyond.

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Nonye is a Thespian, screenwriter, creative writer and an unapologetic lover of books, great movies and sports. She has over 10 years experience in content writing on entertainment, movies, sports and lifestyle. Nonye is currently a content writer at Blackdot Media and founder of
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