Religion in Nigeria


According to Countryaah data, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous state, but information on population size varies widely. This is partly because they did not want to account for the actual size of the different groups of people, since the population figures have been the basis for the distribution of tax revenue and parliamentary seats between the different states. Another reason may be the extensive uncontrolled immigration from neighboring countries. In 2019, the average population density was estimated to be 212 residents per km2. The largest concentrations are found in the southern and northern parts of the country, while the middle region is sparsely populated.

The escape from the countryside is significant and the pace of urbanization is high. The proportion of urban population has increased from 17 to 50 percent between 1965 and 2019. The country’s largest cities are Lagos (10 million residents, 2010), Ibadan (5.2 million) and Kano (2.4 million).

According to thesciencetutor, Nigeria is the most ethnically and culturally diverse African nation. The country is considered to contain over 300 population groups, ten of which account for almost 95 percent of the population: Hausa and Fulani (29 percent), Yoruba (21 percent), Igbo (18 percent), ibibio (4.5 percent), Kanuri(4 percent), anang (3.5 percent), tiv (2.5 percent), ijaw (10 percent) and efik (2 percent). These groups populate Nigeria’s northern and southern parts, with the exception of tiv and nupe, which may be counted as the middle belt, a region where otherwise the largest concentration of smaller people is found. The many ethnic groups represent a wide range of different forms of social organization, from the Hausa-Fulani Muslim emirate and the Yorubas or Edos city-based kingship to the Igbo village-centered community without a political hierarchy and the segmental community of Tiv, divided into local groups based here in common.

People in Nigeria

In Nigeria, city life has a long history, dating back to the 11th century. The Hausa cities in the north, with their ruling Fulani aristocracy, are administrative, commercial and Islamic learning centers, which exercise control over the surrounding countryside, where the majority of Hausa live in villages as farmers. In addition, Hausa are reputable traders, who leave the care of the livestock they often own to the livestock-feeding fulani, with whom they co-exist since the fulani invasion of the early 19th century.

For centuries, Yoruba in the south-west has also lived in cities, whose residents predominantly feed on agriculture in their families’ fields in the city’s surroundings. The men grow a wide variety of crops there for their own needs and today also the cocoa that Nigeria exports. The complex market system is mainly in the hands of women. Politically, Yorubaland is divided into kingdoms, each with a capital, where the king and his chief council reside.

In contrast to Yoruba’s social order stands the social system represented by Igbo in the Southeast, a decentralized society whose largest political unit is a group of villages with a common meeting place that serves both as a ritual and political center and as a market. The village group is governed by a council of elders with support in the societies – age organizations, men’s societies and title societies – which play an overall and integral role in the village community. However, as everywhere in Africa, increased globalization and rapid urbanization have radically changed cultures and lifestyles.


In Nigeria, almost 500 different languages ​​are spoken. Among the largest languages ​​are three of the major African language families, namely the Afro-Asian languages, where Hausa is the largest, the Nilo-Saharan languages, where Kanuri is the largest, and the Niger-Congo languages, mainly Yoruba, Igbo, Fulani and Ibobio). Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo are recognized in the Constitution; English, however, is dominant in public contexts. Nigerian (English-based) pidgin is used in conjunction with the major native languages ​​in interpersonal communication. Compare population above.


Today (2010), it is estimated that almost every other Nigerian is Muslim and that those who profess to some form of Christianity are about as many. Approximately one in ten residents mainly devote themselves to indigenous religion, which is also common among both Christians and Muslims.

There are various details of when Islam came to Nigeria. Some sources say the 800s, while others claim that Islam came to the area with Muslim traders as early as the 700s. Among Muslims, Sunni is dominant, but there are also those who confess to Ahmadiya, mainly in the cities of Lagos and Abuja. Of special importance was Islam in modern times under the leadership of Usman dan Fodio. The most important Sufis are Qadiriya and Tijaniya.

Portuguese merchants reached the country in the late 1400s and the Catholic Church, which accounts for just over one tenth of Nigerians as a member, was established in the country in 1487. Of the Protestant churches, the Anglican Church was the first to be established in the country (1842) and it is declared today. have as many members as Catholics. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the number of Christians increased rapidly. In addition to Protestants and Catholics, there are a large number of supporters of independent African churches. These carry out intensive missionary activities. In addition, there are about 140 smaller Christian communities of various kinds, e.g. Methodists, Baptists and Pentecostals, and Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and Seventh-day Adventists.

In the northern parts of Nigeria, the ethnic groups dominate the Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri, who are mainly Muslims. In the southwest, the ethnic group dominates the Yoruba, of which about half are Christian and the other half are Muslims. Although most people practice Christianity or Islam, traditional attitudes still have great impact. Of the indigenous African religions, the Yoruba religion is most noted with, among other things, a great god-world, rich mythology and well-developed priestly hierarchy. The ethnic groups in the southern parts of the country are mainly Christian. The ethnic group Igbo in the eastern parts of the country are mostly Catholics, Anglicans and Methodists, but many Igbo people also practice traditional African rites and ceremonies. In the oil-rich Niger Delta region, where the Ogoni and Ijaw ethnic groups are in the majority,

According to the 1999 Constitution and previous constitutions, Nigeria is a secular state without state religion. The Constitution and other laws guarantee freedom of religion. However, the federal states have the right to establish courts based on general law or customary law. In twelve northern states, sharia courts have been introduced, which judge in both criminal and civil cases. Many Christians see the existence of the Sharia courts as proof that these states actually have a religious, ie. Islamic, reason. Christian and Islamic fundamentalism have led to increased tensions that have resulted in a number of serious clashes since the 1980s. To reduce this type of tension, the government is consulting with the Nigerian Inter-Religious Council), a body that receives financial support from the government.

The government supports pilgrimage trips to Mecca, Jerusalem and Rome through agreements with airlines and bilateral agreements with Saudi Arabia and Israel.

  • Visit for business, geography, history, politics, and society of Nigeria. Also find most commonly used abbreviations and acronyms about this country.

The following days are national holidays in Nigeria: Prophet Muhammad’s birth, Good Friday, Easter Day, Id al-fitr, Id al-adha and Christmas day.

Nigeria Religion