Top 10 Largest Ethnic Groups in Nigeria

Nigeria is the seventh-largest country in the world. There are over 520 languages spoken, and over 371 ethnic groups that are fully represented. As the Giant of Africa, they stand tall with cultural diversity and a constantly developing economy. In the course of this article, we would be looking at the largest ethnic groups in Nigeria.


While we have explored the strongest tribes in Nigeria, the most dangerous ethnic group in Nigeria and even the largest states in the country, let’s enjoy a broad overview of the biggest ethnic groups that make Nigeria stand tall as the giant of Africa.


Below are the largest tribes in Nigeria and details about them.


Hausa’s are indeed the largest ethnic group in Nigeria with over 75 million people living in the Northern region of Nigeria. They are known famously for cattle rearing and their agricultural lifestyle. With the primary religion of this ethnic group being Islam, they tend to have a very homogenized culture. This trait is similar to other Islamic minorities and majorities around the world.  Since the British handed over power in  1960, the Hausa’s have been major players in Nigerian politics.


The Yoruba tribe are the second-largest tribe in Nigeria. This wonderful tribe make up to 21% of the Nigerian Populace. They can be identified as a Christian Majority and a Muslim minority. Not forgetting, they have a lot of traditional tenets too. Yorubas have a lot of traditional beliefs and cultures. Unlike like the Hausa’s, they are not culturally Homogenized.  Did you know that a lot of individuals from this ethnic group have accomplished lots of awarding feats in Africa and the world at large?

Men like Wole Soyinka and his Noble Laureate, T.B Joshua, and many more have brought a lot of value to this Ethnic group. Every ethnic group in Nigeria has something that they are known for. Do you know what I think the Yorubas are known for? I think Education is. If you think otherwise, let me know in the comment section down below.


With a fair share of 19% of the Nigerian population, the Igbos is another great ethnic group to reckon with.  Igbos can either be characterized as Christians or Traditionalists. Although, in the same light lots of Notable Igbos have converted to Islam in recent years. This ethnic has a noteworthy characteristic, here are some of them; they are witty, they like money, they are a hyper industrious, Socially independent group and value adhering ethnic group. If you know other characteristics leave a comment down below.

Starting in the year 1967, the Igbos fought for two and a half years for Independence. They were made subject to very harsh conditions during this time. The then Nigerian government was of military rule. In the wars, the Igbos were landlocked and starvation was Nigerians greatest weapon in a brutal unfair fight. After the war, every Igbo man was handed over, a twenty naira note. Since then the southeastern region has fully recovered and has been booming ever since. The Igbo ethnic group have successfully re-ingrate with society. But an awful lot believe that there is still a strong sense of brutish marginalization in the country.


The Ijaws are also among the largest tribes in Nigeria. This group are located in the Niger Delta region. They make 11% of the country’s populace and occupy the oil producing states in Nigeria. Though, they have this natural resource at their disposal, they are subject to ecological damages due to recurrent oil spillages by major oil companies in that region.

Due to mismanagement by the government (both state and federal) proceeds from the region’s oil revenues and IGR has been kept on the pocket of many corrupt politicians who occupy public offices. Another feat worthy of note of the Ijaw tribe is the election of Goodluck Jonathon, who was Nigeria’s president from 2010 to 2015.


The Kanuri tribe are found in the north-eastern region of Nigeria. With a population estimated to be around 4% of Nigeria (approximately 4,000,000), they also form part of the biggest ethnic groups in country. The area occupied by the Kanuri speaking people are largely densed, making it practically impossible for outside invasion. The religion of the Kanuri people is Islam (predominately Sunni Muslims). It is even said that one of the world’s deadliest terrorist group, Boko Haram, that ravages the North of Nigeria, are mostly of Kanuri descent.

According to research, the Kanuri people have rich traditions and culture. The Boko Haram group from this tribe uses the lands in thisntribe as base for their operations, killing innocent Kanuri people using either violence or Sharia law.


Fulanis also make big part in terms of largest tribes in Nigeria. Since the Fulani War (1804-1808), the people of these ethnic group have been confused with the Hausa tribe of Nigeria. This is due to intermarriage between the Fulanis and the Hausa population.

Population wise, Fulani and Hausa account for approximately 29% of Nigeria’s population. Fulani major religion is Islam, and they are strict when it comes to culture and tradition. They are mostly nomadic in nature and along with the Hausa, they have dominated Nigerian politics since independence till date.


The Ibibio tribe accounts for approximately 4.5 million people in Nigeria and they are mostly found in the south-eastern region of Nigeria. This large ethnic group are mostly Christians and have history and rich cultural back ground. They are known to known for carving intricate wooden masks and artistic sculptures.


The Tiv tribe are known for their prowess in agriculture and commerce. The predominant religion of Tiv people is Christianity with few Muslims present there. While the Tiv tribe makes up approximately 3.5% of the Nigerian population, they are one of the smallest ethnic groups within the country. The states occupied by the Tiv community are regarded as the most peaceful states in Nigeria.


With the above listed, note that the major tribes in Nigeria still remains: Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa respectively. While others are seen as minority, this does not negate the fact that they can’t be listed among the largest tribes we have in Nigeria at the moment as the country is a multi-ethnic/religious nation.

Other ethnic groups in Nigeria not listed make up 12% of the population in the country. Tribes like Ebira tribe, Edo tribe, Gwari tribe, Jukun tribe, and Igala ethnic group are just a few of them.

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Oluchi Chukwu

Oluchi is a seasoned Information blogger, content developer and the editor of Nigerian Queries. She is a tech enthusiast who loves reading, writing and research

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