Major tribes in Nigeria and their states with all the details

Major tribes in Nigeria and their states with all the details

Nigeria is a linguistically diverse country. English is the official language, and the people speak over 500 ethnic languages. People in rural areas use English less frequently, especially those with lower education levels. Find out how many tribes are in Nigeria and the major communities that greatly influence the country's culture, economic development, and politics.

tribes in nigeria
People playing traditional musical instruments. Photo: @Nigeria culture
Source: UGC

Nigeria is rich in culture and history. The county holds the largest population in Africa, with over 206 million people in 2020. Tribes in Nigeria prove to be unique through different traditions, expressions, and lifestyles.

How many tribes are in Nigeria?

Nigeria has several ethnic groups, with multiple tribes within each group. Hence, the country has 371 tribes. Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, and Fulani are major tribes in Nigeria, and they have the most influence on the course of development of the country. Hausa and Yoruba are the largest tribes in the country.

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The top 10 major tribes in Nigeria and their states

The diversity of tribes in Nigeria gives the country a unique identity and makes it a melting pot of different beliefs and traditions. Below are the top 10 most populated tribes in Nigeria, the states they occupy, and other details.

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1. Hausa

nigerian tribes
Hausa weddings. Photo: @AfricanaWeddingsRock, @Opheliaeventaffairs (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Hausa is the biggest tribe in Nigeria, with a population of about 67 million people. They make up around 25% of the country's population. Hausa people have a homogenized culture and are known for raising cattle, growing crops and trading.

Islam is the main religion of the Hausa tribe, and they live in Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto, Taraba, Gombe, Plateau, Yobe, and Zamfara states of Nigeria. The tribe plays a significant role in the country's politics.

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Most of them live in small villages. The Hausa language is a Chadic group language of the Afro-Asiatic type. The main city of Hausa is Daura in Katsina State. They consider this town as their tribe's spiritual centre.

2. Yoruba

top 10 most populated tribe in nigeria
Yoruba couples. Photo: @IludioWeddings, @yorubaculturalcentre (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Yorubas make up around 21% of Nigeria's population. They are the second most influential tribe in Nigeria. Christianity and Islam are the dominant religions among the Yorubas.

A few still practice their ancestors' religion. The tribe has a unique tonal language and preserves most of its traditions and art. Yoruba people live in the Ekiti, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, and the Oyo states of Nigeria.

Yoruba is historically known as Africa's most urbanized tribe. They lived in fortress cities for centuries. Ibadan (one of the main Yoruba cities) was one of the biggest cities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Lagos is considered the main Yoruba city, and Ile Ife city is the tribe's spiritual centre.

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3. Igbo

major tribes in nigeria
Igbo weddings. Photo: @vanblaiz, @Igbo Traditional Weddings (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Igbo is the biggest ethnic group in eastern Nigeria. They occupy Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, and the Rivers states. The Igbo tribe speaks several regional dialects and are farmers, craftsmen, and traders. Igbos' main religion is Christianity, and they have beautiful visual arts, dance styles, music, and attires.

The Igbo area is an integral part of oil trade in southeastern Nigeria. The 1967 war between the Nigerian government and Biafra happened in this region. The war frustrated the region's economy. Today, eastern Nigeria has a stable economy, and it attracts many business people, including billionaires.

4. Fulani (Fulbe)

how many tribes are in nigeria
Fulani couples. Photo: @traditionalculturewordGuds, @Classique Imagery Studios (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Fulani and Hausa are intertwined because of intermarriages. The two tribes have a tremendous political influence in Nigeria. The Fulbe people adopted Islam as their primary religion. The main occupation of this semi-sedentary tribe is cattle rearing.

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Fulani people are in northeastern Nigeria. They live in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kwara, Niger, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe, and Zamfara states.

5. Ibibio

tribes in nigeria and their states
Ibibio weddings. Photo: @Naijaweds247, @DembaqqTv (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Ibibio is a coastal tribe residing in southern Nigeria. They are related to the Efik people and share names and cultures with Annang, Efik, Ekid, Oron and Ibeno tribes. These communities also speak closely related dialects.

The Ibibios are in Akwa Ibom State. They share the state's government with the Anaangs, Eket and Oron but have massive control over Akwa Ibom's politics.

Most of the Ibibio people are Christians, and traditionalists worship the God of Heaven (Abasi Enyong), God of the Earth (Abasi Isong) and the Supreme Being (Abasi Ibom).

6. Kanuri

largest tribe in nigeria
Kanuri couples. Photo: @Arewa Fashion Style, @Muslimbridesng (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The Kanuri people are in Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Libya and Cameroon. They originate from the medieval Kanem-Bornu Empire and engage in farming, fishing, and trading. Islam is their main religion. The Kanuri tribe of Nigeria are predominantly in Adamawa, Borno, Taraba, and the Yobe states.

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Origin and history of Tiv tribe

7. Tiv

10 major tribes in nigeria
Tiiv weddings. Photo: @jpkajotargema, @Tivtraditionalmarriage (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The Tivoid ethnic group has over 5 million people living in Nigeria and Cameroon. Some of their traditional musical instruments are Kakaki, Ilyu, Adiguve, and Kolugh Ku Bua. The Tiv had no administrative divisions. Leadership was based on age, influence, and affluence.

Most Tiiv language speakers in Nigeria live in Benue State, Abuja FCT, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, and the Taraba states. Many members of the Tiv group are also in the United States and the United Kingdom.

8. Ijaw (Izon or Izon Otu)

tribes of nigeria
Ijaw couples. Photo: @SugarWeddingsNigeria, @greenwishes1 (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The Ijaw tribe constitutes 1.8% of the Nigerian population. They live in the delta of the Niger River, which is extremely rich in oil and gas. The tribe is divided into 50 kinship clans, and most of them are fishermen and farmers. 70% of Ijaw people are Christians.

9. Nupe

tribes in nigeria
Nupe weddings. Photo: @lizabloomsevents, @asasyamtu (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Hausas call the Nupe tribe Nupawa, while Yorubas call them Tapa. They are the dominant ethnic group in Kogi, Kwara, and the Niger states. There are about 3.5 million Nupe speakers in Nigeria.

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Nupe people often have tribal marks on their faces. Most of them are Muslims, and a few are Christians and traditionalists. The proximity of the Nupe tribe to the Yoruba-Oyo in the southwest and the Yoruba-Igbomina in the south led to intermarriages, trading, exchange of cultures and conflicts over the centuries.

10. Jukun (Njikum)

nigerian tribes
Jukun couples. Photo: @ajizentuajiduku, @adashusamuelgani (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Jukun people of Nigeria are in Bauchi, Benue, Plateau, and Taraba states. They are also found in various parts of northwestern Cameroon. Most of them were traditionalists until Christianity and Islam came to Africa.

The Jukun tribe is divided into two major groups; the Jukun Wapa and Jukun Wanu. Their language is divided into six dialects: Wukari, Donga, Kona, Gwana, Pindiga, Jibu, and Wase Tofa. The Kona, Gwana, and Pindiga dialects differ but are regarded as one because they are small.

Tribes in Nigeria and their states

Below is a map of major tribes in Nigeria spread among the country's states:

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nigerian tribes
A map showing major tribes in Nigeria and their states. Photo: @researchgate.net

What tribes are in Nigeria?

Below are tables of all ethnic groups in Nigeria and the states they live in:

Names of ethnic groups - State (s)Names of ethnic groups - State (s)
1. Abayon - Cross River2. Abua (Odual) -Rivers3. Achipa (Achipawa) - Kebbi4. Adim - Cross River5. Adun - Cross River6. Affade - Yobe7. Afizere - Plateau8. Afo - Plateau9. Agbo - Cross River10. Akaju Ndem (Akajuk) - Cross River11. Akweya Yachi - Benue12. Alago (Arago) - Piateau13. Amo - Plateau14. Anaguta - Plateau15. Anang - Akwa lbom16. Andoni - Akwa lbom, Rivers17. Angas - Bauchi, Jigawa, Plateau18. Ankwei - Plateau19. Anyima - Cross River20. Attakar (ataka) - Kaduna21. Auyoka (Auyokawa) - Jigawa22. Awori - Lagos, Ogun23. Ayu - Kaduna24. Babur - Adamawa, Bomo, Taraba, Yobe25. Bachama - Adamawa26. Bachere - Cross River27. Bada - Plateau28. Bade - Yobe29. Bahumono - Cross River30. Bakulung - Taraba31. Bali - Taraba32. Bambora (Bambarawa) - Bauchi33. Bambuko - Taraba34. Banda (Bandawa) - Taraba35. Banka (Bankalawa) - Bauchi36. Banso (Panso) - Adamawa37. Bara (Barawa) - Bauchi38. Barke - Bauchi39. Baruba (Barba) - Niger40. Bashiri (Bashirawa) - Plateau41. Bassa - Kaduna, Kogi, Niger, Plateau42. Batta - Adamawa43. Baushi - Niger44. Baya - Adamawa45. Bekwarra - Cross River46. Bele (Buli, Belewa) - Bauchi47. Betso (Bete) - Taraba48. Bette - Cross River49. Bilei - Adamawa50. Bille - Adamawa51. Bina (Binawa) - Kaduna52. Bini - Edo53. Birom - Plateau54. Bobua - Taraba55. Boki (Nki) - Cross River56. Bkkos - Plateau57. Boko (Bussawa, Bargawa) - Niger58. Bole (Bolewa) - Bauchi, Yobe59. Botlere - Adamawa60. Boma (Bomawa, Burmano) - Bauchi61. Bomboro - Bauchi62. Buduma - Borno, Niger63. Buji - Plateau64. Buli - Bauchi65. Bunu -Kogi66. Bura - Adamawa67. Burak - Bauchi68. Burma (Burmawa) - Plateau69. Buru - Yobe70. Buta (Butawa) - Bauchi71. Bwall - Plateau72. Bwatiye - Adamawa73. Bwazza - Adamawa74. Challa - Plateau75. Chama (Chamawa Fitilai) - Bauchi76. Chamba - Taraba77. Chamo - Bauchi78. Chibok (Chibbak) - Yobe79. Chinine - Borno80. Chip - Plateau81. Chokobo - Plateau82. Chukkol - Taraba83. Daba - Adamawa84. Dadiya - Bauchi85. Daka - Adamawa86. Dakarkari - Niger, Kebbi87. Danda (Dandawa) - Kebbi88. Dangsa - Taraba89. Daza (Dere, Derewa) - Bauchi90. Degema - Rivers91. Deno (Denawa) - Bauchi92. Dghwede - Bomo93. Diba - Taraba94. Doemak (Dumuk) - Plateau95. Ouguri - Bauchi96. Duka (Dukawa) - Kebbi97. Duma (Dumawa) - Bauchi98. Ebana (Ebani) - Rivers99. Ebirra (lgbirra) - Edo, Kogi, Ondo100. Ebu - Edo, Kogi101. Efik - Cross River102. Egbema - Rivers103. Egede (lgedde) - Benue104. Eggon - Plateau105. Egun (Gu) - Lagos,Ogun106. Ejagham - Cross River107. Ekajuk - Cross River108. Eket - Akwa Ibom109. Ekoi - Cross River110. Engenni (Ngene) -Rivers111. Epie -Rivers112. Esan (Ishan) - Edo113. Etche - Rivers114. Etolu (Etilo) - Benue115. Etsako - Edo116. Etung - Cross River117. Etuno - Edo118. Palli - Adamawa119. Pulani (Pulbe) - Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi , Niger, Sokoto, Taraba, Yobe120. Fyam (Fyem) - Plateau121. Fyer (Fer) - Plateau122. Ga’anda - Adamawa123. Gade - Niger124. Galambi - Bauchi125. Gamergu Mulgwa -Borno126. Qanawuri - Plateau127. Gavako - Borno128. Gbedde - Kogi129. Gengle - Taraba130. Geji - Bauchi131. Gera (Gere, Gerawa) -Bauchi132. Geruma (Gerumawa) -Plateau133. Geruma (Gerumawa) -Bauchi134. Gingwak -Bauchi135. Gira -Adamawa136. Gizigz -Adamawa137. Goernai -Plateau138. Gokana (Kana) -Rivers139. Gombi -Adamawa140. Gornun (Gmun) -Taraba141. Gonia -Taraba142. Gubi (Gubawa) -Bauchi143. Gude - Adamawa144. Gudu - Adamawa145. Gure - Kaduna146. Gurmana - Niger147. Gururntum - Bauchi148. Gusu - Plateau149. Gwa (Gurawa) - Adamawa150. Gwamba - Adamawa151. Gwandara - Kaduna, Niger, Plateau152. Gwari (Gbari) -Kaduna, Niger, Abuja, Plateau153. Gwom - Taraba154. Gwoza (Waha) -Borno155. Gyem -Bauchi156. Hausa - Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Kastina, Kebbi, Niger, Taraba, Sokoto, Zamfara157. Higi (Hig) - Borno, Adamawa158. Holma - Adamawa159. Hona - Adamawa160. Ibeno - Akwa lbom161. Ibibio - Akwa lbom162. Ichen - Adamawa163. Idoma - Benue, Taraba164. Igalla - Kogi165. lgbo -Abia, Anambra, Benue, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Rivers166. ljumu - Kogi167. Ikorn - Cross River168. Irigwe - Plateau169. Isoko - Delta170. lsekiri (Itsekiri) - Delta171. lyala (lyalla) - Cross River172. lzondjo -Bayelsa, Delta, Ondo, Rivers173. Jaba -Kaduna174. Jahuna (Jahunawa) -Taraba175. Jaku -Bauchi176. Jara (Jaar Jarawa Jarawa-Dutse) - Bauchi177. Jere (Jare, Jera, Jera, Jerawa) - Bauchi, Plateau178. Jero - Taraba179. Jibu - Adamawa180. Jidda Abu - Plateau181. Jimbin (Jimbinawa) - Bauchi182. Jirai - Adamawa

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Major towns in Osun state Nigeria

Names of ethnic groups - State (s)Names of ethnic groups - State (s)
183. Jonjo (Jenjo) - Taraba184. Jukun - Bauchi, Benue,Taraba, Plateau185. Kaba (Kabawa) - Taraba186. Kadara - Taraba187. Kafanchan - Kaduna188. Kagoro - Kaduna189. Kaje (Kache) -Kaduna190. Kajuru (Kajurawa) - Kaduna191. Kaka - Adamawa192. Kamaku (Karnukawa) - Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger193. Kambari - Kebbi, Niger194. Kambu - Adamawa195. Kamo - Bauchi196. Kanakuru (Dera) - Adamawa, Borno197. Kanembu - Borno198. Kanikon -Kaduna199. Kantana -Plateau200. Kanuri - Kaduna, Adamawa, Borno, Kano, Niger, Jigawa, Plateau, Taraba, Yobe201. Karekare (Karaikarai) - Bauchi, Yobe202. Karimjo - Taraba203. Kariya - Bauchi204. Katab (Kataf) - Kaduna205. Kenern (Koenoem) - Plateau206. Kenton - Taraba207. Kiballo (Kiwollo) - Kaduna208. Kilba - Adamawa209. Kirfi (Kirfawa) - Bauchi210. Koma - Taraba211. Kona - Taraba212. Koro (Kwaro) - Kaduna, Niger213. Kubi (Kubawa) - Bauchi214. Kudachano (Kudawa) - Bauchi215. Kugama - Taraba216. Kulere (Kaler) - Plateau217. Kunini - Taraba218. Kurama - Jigawa, Kaduna, Niger, Plateau219. Kurdul - Adamawa220. Kushi - Bauchi221. Kuteb - Taraba222. Kutin - Taraba223. Kwalla - Plateau224. Kwami (Kwom) - Bauchi225. Kwanchi - Taraba226. Kwanka (Kwankwa) - Bauchi, Plateau227. Kwaro - Plateau228. Kwato - Plateau229. Kyenga (Kengawa) - Sokoto230. Laaru (Larawa) - Niger231. Lakka - Adamawa232. Lala - Adamawa233. Lama - Taraba234. Lamja - Taraba235. Lau - Taraba236. Ubbo - Adamawa237. Limono - Bauchi, Plateau238. Lopa (Lupa, Lopawa) - Niger239. Longuda (Lunguda) - Adamawa, Bauchi240. Mabo - Plateau241. Mada - Kaduna, Plateau242. Mama - Plateau243. Mambilla - Adamawa244. Manchok - Kaduna245. Mandara (Wandala) - Borno246. Manga (Mangawa) - Yobe247. Margi (Marghi) - Adamawa, Borno248. Matakarn - Adamawa249. Mbembe - Cross River, Enugu250. Mbol - Adamawa251. Mbube - Cross River252. Mbula - Adamawa253. Mbum - Taraba254. Memyang (Meryan) - Plateau255. Miango - Plateau256. Miligili (Migili) - Plateau257. Miya (Miyawa) - Bauchi258. Mobber - Borno259. Montol - Plateau260. Moruwa (Moro’a, Morwa) - Kaduna261. Muchaila - Adamawa262. Mumuye - Taraba263. Mundang - Adamawa264. Munga (Mupang) - Plateau265. Mushere - Plateau266. Mwahavul (Mwaghavul) - Plateau267. Ndoro - Taraba268. Ngamo - Bauchi, Yobe269. Ngizim - Yobe270. Ngweshe (Ndhang.Ngoshe-Ndhang) - Adamawa, Borno271. Ningi (Ningawa) -Bauchi272. Ninzam (Ninzo) -Kaduna, Plateau273. Njayi -Adamawa274. Nkim -Cross River275. Nkum -Cross River276. Nokere (Nakere) -Plateau277. Nunku -Kaduna, Plateau278. Nupe -Niger279. Nyandang -Taraba280. Ododop Cross River281. Ogori -Kwara282. Okobo (Okkobor) -Akwa lbom283. Okpamheri -Edo284. Olulumo -Cross River285. Oron -Akwa lbom286. Owan -Edo287. Owe -Kwara288. Oworo -Kwara289. Pa’a (Pa’awa Afawa) -Bauchi290. Pai -Plateau291. Panyam -Taraba292. Pero -Bauchi293. Pire -Adamawa294. Pkanzom -Taraba295. Poll -Taraba296. Polchi Habe -Bauchi297. Pongo (Pongu) -Niger298. Potopo -Taraba299. Pyapun (Piapung) -Plateau300. Qua -Cross River301. Rebina (Rebinawa) -Bauchi302. Reshe -Kebbi, Niger303. Rindire (Rendre) -Plateau304. Rishuwa -Kaduna305. Ron -Plateau306. Rubu -Niger307. Rukuba -Plateau308. Rumada -Kaduna309. Rumaya -Kaduna310. Sakbe -Taraba311. Sanga -Bauchi312. Sate -Taraba313. Saya (Sayawa Za’ar) -Bauchi314. Segidi (Sigidawa) -Bauchi315. Shanga (Shangawa) -Sokoto316. Shangawa (Shangau) -Plateau317. Shan-Shan -Plateau318. Shira (Shirawa) -Kano319. Shomo -Taraba320. Shuwa -Adamawa, Borno321. Sikdi -Plateau322. Siri (Sirawa) -Bauchi323. Srubu (Surubu) -Kaduna324. Sukur -Adamawa325. Sura -Plateau326. Tangale -Bauchi327. Tarok -Plateau, Taraba328. Teme -Adamawa329. Tera (Terawa) -Bauchi, Bomo330. Teshena (Teshenawa) -Kano331. Tigon -Adamawa332. Tikar -Taraba333. Tiv -Benue, Plateau, Taraba and Nasarawa334. Tula -Bauchi335. Tur -Adamawa336. Ufia -Benue337. Ukelle -Cross River338. Ukwani (Kwale) -Delta339. Uncinda -Kaduna, Kebbi, Niger, Sokoto340. Uneme (Ineme) -Edo341. Ura (Ula) -Niger342. Urhobo -Delta343. Utonkong -Benue344. Uyanga -Cross River345. Vemgo -Adamawa346. Verre -Adamawa347. Vommi -Taraba348. Wagga -Adamawa349. Waja -Bauchi350. Waka -Taraba351. Warja (Warja) -Jigawa352. Warji -Bauchi353. Wula -Adamawa354. Wurbo -Adamawa355. Wurkun -Taraba356. Yache -Cross River357. Yagba -Kwara358. Yakurr (Yako) -Cross River359. Yalla -Benue360. Yandang -Taraba361. Yergan (Yergum) -Plateau362. Yoruba - Kwara, Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti, Kogi)363. Yott -Taraba364. Yumu -Niger365. Yungur -Adamawa366. Yuom -Plateau367. Zabara -Niger368. Zaranda -Bauchi369. Zarma (Zarmawa) -Kebbi370. Zayam (Zeam) -Bauchi371. Zul (Zulawa) –Bauchi

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Cultural similarities and differences in Nigeria

What are the largest tribes in Nigeria?

Major tribes in Nigeria and their percentage in the country's population are:

  • Hausa (25%)
  • Yoruba (21%)
  • Igbo (18%)
  • Fulani (6%)
  • Ibibio (3.5%)
  • Tiv (2.4%)
  • Kanuri (2.4%)
  • Ijaw (1.8%)

Knowing how many tribes are in Nigeria and their states help one understand the nation better. The major tribes in Nigeria have a massive say in the country's politics because they have the most population and voters. This does not mean that there is no democracy in the country. The federal government of Nigeria upholds equality for all.

READ ALSO: Geopolitical zones in Nigeria and their states: All the details

Legit.ng also shared an insightful article about geopolitical zones in Nigeria and their states. Nigeria is divided into six regions called geopolitical zones.

President General Sani Abacha's regime created these administrative regions to determine the distribution of economic, educational, and political resources among the people.

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Top facts about the territorial organization of Nigeria

Source: Legit.ng

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