Demographics of Nigeria

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Nigeria, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

The most populous country in Africa, Nigeria accounts for approximately one-sixth of Africa's people. Although fewer than 25% of Nigerians are urban dwellers, at least 24 cities have populations of more than 100,000. The variety of customs, languages, and traditions among Nigeria's 389 ethnic groups gives the country a cultural diversity.

Census figures are used to determine regional funding and representation of ethnic and religious groups in government service. This provides an incentive for inflating local populations. On the other hand, some academics believe the figures given below by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) are a serious under-estimate.

Professor JG Ottong, a social scientist at the University of Calabar, explained that population has been a sensitive and controversial issue "because of its implications for shaping regional, state and ethnic relations and balance of power". In the past, census figures were believed to have been manipulated for political advantage.[1]



The most numerous ethnic group in the northern two-thirds of the country is the Hausa-Fulani,the overwhelming majority of whom are Muslim. Other major ethnic groups of the north are the Nupe, Tiv, and Kanuri. The Yoruba people are the most numerous in the southwest. Over half of the Yorubas are Christian and about a quarter are Muslim, with the remainder following mostly traditional beliefs. The predominantly Christian Igbo are the largest ethnic group in the southeast. Roman Catholics are the largest denomination, but Pentecostal and other Evangelical denominations are also strong. The Efik, Ibibio, Annang, and Ijaw (the country's fourth-largest ethnic group) communities also comprise a substantial segment of the population in that area. Persons of different language backgrounds most commonly communicate in English, although knowledge of two or more Nigerian languages is widespread. Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo are the most widely used Nigerian languages.

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