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Wednesday 24th April 2024,
Hope for Nigeria

The Demographics of Nigeria

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Demographics of Nigeria – The most populous country in Africa, Nigeria accounts for approximately one-quarter of West 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 rich diversity. It is impossible to state demographic figures on Nigeria authoritatively, as national census results have been contested. All data in this article should, therefore, be viewed with caution.

Demographics of Nigeria

Census figures are used to regulate regional funding and representation of ethnic and religious groups in government amenity. This provides an incentive for expanding local populations. On the other hand, some academics believe the information given below by the Food and Agriculture Organisation ( FAO) are a serious under-estimate.
Professor JG Ottong, a communal scientist at the University of Calabar, explained that population has been a sensitive and controversial issue because of its insinuations for shaping regional, state and ethnic relation and balance of power. In the past, census figures were believed to have been operated for political advantage.

The demographics of Nigeria have undergone some changes over the past few decades as a result of migration and settlement from the far off nations of Europe and even parts of Asia. Since the ancient times, the land has been inhabited by frequent ethnic tribes such as Yoruba’s, Efik, Ibibio and Ijaw.

Long before the approaching of the British Empire in Nigeria, different dynasties continued to predominate the political environment of the country. As the northern kingdom composed of Borno and Hausa states containing states like Gobir, Zazzau, Kano, Birori, Katsina, Gwari, Kebbi, Daura, Nupe and Yelwa. Nevertheless, the Calabar kingdom is considered to be the oldest of all and was almost founded in the year 1000 A.D. The Oduduwa Empire was regarded to be the founders of the Yoruba people. It was during the sovereignty of the Benin Empire that the land of Nigeria was rapidly extended to the far off lands as well as an era that marked the improvement of African art and literature. After the establishment of the British royal rule in the country, it saw a rise in revolts among the general Nigerian masses against the majestic rule. Finally, on October 1, 1960, Nigeria achieved its freedom from the clutches of foreign rule.

A study of the geographical demography of Nigeria delivers with some interesting facts. Nigeria is situated on the western coast of Africa sharing its boundary with the North Atlantic Ocean, between Benin and Cameroon. It covers an area of 356,668 sq miles. The climatic environments vary from place to place as in northern Nigeria it has an arid type of climate; towards south its equatorial though in the central part of Nigeria has a tropical weather.

Traditionally, the land of Nigeria is categorised by the presence of various ethnic tribal groups which contribute to the distinct personality of the country. With the existence of more than 250 linguistic groups, the cultural diversity of the country is an enormous asset which is definitely hard to ignore. The Hausa-Fulani are leading in the northern measure, the Igbo in the south-east, the Yoruba in the south-west and the Benin tribes are prominent in the western part of the country. Different religious accretions have resided in the land of Nigeria for many years, however, Islam religion continues to predominate the especially in the northern part of the country. Christianity is widely practised in the south and south-eastern part of Nigeria. The major folkloric groups also continue to exercise a formidable influence over the demography of the country.


Population pyramids can be used to show change to age erection over time as well as projected changes to age structure in the future. Observing at Nigeria’s population pyramids, not much change to age structure is evident until “Nigeria 2030”.

Nigeria’s population pyramids from 1970 to 2010 look closely identical. The lack of change between these pyramids means that the age structure of the nation hasn’t changed much in the last 40 years. Total fertility rates in the country stay high and, in overall, each working age adult supports several dependents. “Nigeria 2030” looks different than preceding pyramids and is based on United Nations projections that assume a decline in total fertility to 4.9 children per woman over her lifespan. As a result, a slight lessening of the base of this population pyramid is evident. Nigeria 2050 shows a more noticeable lessening of the base of the population pyramid, based on the assumption that fertility will decay further to 3.7 children per woman.  In this 2050 scenario, Nigeria would have a larger proportion of the residents working-age and, if able to secure employment, able to contribute to economic growth.


The most plentiful ethnic group in the northern two-thirds of the country is the Hausa-Fulani, the overwhelming majority of whom are Muslim. Further major ethnic groups of the north are the Nupe, Tiv, and Kanuri. The Yoruba people are the most plentiful in the south-west. Over half of the Yorubas are Christian and about a quarter are Muslim, with the remainder following commonly traditional beliefs. The predominantly Christian Igbo are the largest ethnic group in the south-east. Roman Catholics are the largest quantity, but Pentecostal and other Evangelical denominations are also strong. The Efik, Ibibio, and Ijaw groups also comprise a substantial segment of the population in that area. Persons of dissimilar language backgrounds most regularly communicate in English, although knowledge of two or more Nigerian languages is prevalent. Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo are the most widely used Nigerian languages.


The United Nations evaluates that the population in 2004 was at 131,530,000

note: estimates for this country obviously take into account the effects of extra mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher infant humanity and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would then be expected (July 2000 est.) The population of Nigeria is expected to reach 356 million by 2050 and 602 million by 2100, overhauling the USA as the 3rd most populous country in the world. Nigeria has just recently gone underway a people explosion due to higher fertility rates and population growth.


  • The current population of Nigeria is 188,142,554 as of Sunday, October 2, 2016, based on the latest United Nations estimates.
  • Nigeria population is equal to 48%of the total world population.

Nigeria ranks number 7 in the list of nations by population.

  • The population density in Nigeria is 205 per Km2(532 people per mi2).
  • The total land area is 910,802 Km2 (351,662 sq. miles)
  • 1 %of the population is urban (91,668,667 people in 2016)
  • The median age in Nigeria is 18 years.


Age structure

0-14 years: 44% (female 26,872,317; male 27,181,020)
15-64 years: 53% (female 32,337,193; male 33,495,794)
65 years and over: 3% (female 1,722,349; male 1,729,149) (2000 est.)

Vital Statistics

Population growth: 2.67% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 40.16 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 13.72 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration: 0.28 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.03 female(s)/male
under 15 years: 1.01 female(s)/male
15-64 years: 1.04 female/male(s)
65 years and over: 1 female(s)/male
total population: 1.02 female(s)/male (2000 est.)

Infant mortality: 74.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 51.56 years
female: 51.55 years (2000 est.)
male: 51.58 years

Total fertility rate: 5.66 children born/woman (2000 est.)

Ethnic Groups

Nigeria, which is Africa’s most crowded country, is composed of more than 250 ethnic groups; the following are the most crowded and politically persuasive: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 17%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5% These percentages are approximates, based on the number of settlements, including the number of towns, villages, hamlets and cities, with info supplied by the Nigeria postal service.

In the absence of an up to date census, other population figures do not follow scientific actions. Only these are scientifically backed by settlement data provided by the government.


Religion (2000 estimate)

NOTE: The figures below are provocative, and come from a Christian basis (Operation World, 2000, by Patrick Johnstone and Jason Mandryk). For political motives, no religious question has been included in any census since1963, the results of which were widely uncertain. Muslims and Christians both claim to be in the common.

The U.S. State Department, though, estimates that Muslims outnumber Christians, containing approximately half of the country’s residents, while Christians make up 40 percentages, with the remainder following traditional indigenous religions or no religion. Many people combine features of Christianity or Islam with elements of indigenous faiths. The predominant form of Islam in the country is Sunni. The Christian residents include Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and a growing quantity of Evangelical and Pentecostal Christians. Catholics constitute the largest Christian denomination.

It should also be noted that an expected 8 million Nigerians belong to more than one Christian denomination, and unrecorded alteration of membership between diverse Protestant and “African Christian” bodies is widespread. Accordingly, the denominational affiliation totals add up to considerably more than the total number of Christians in Nigeria.

The Operation World approximates are stated below. Their inclusion is because of their detail and does not necessarily constitute an endorsement of their endeavour to show that Nigeria has a Christian majority. What they do likely show is the approximate strength of the altered denominations relative to one another, but their overall accuracy is unprovable.

  • Christian: 52.6% (Mostly in the South and in the so-called Middle Belt)
    • Protestant: 26%
      • Pentecostal: 10.9%
      • Anglican: 10.1%
      • Evangelical Church of West Africa: 4.1% (outgrowth of the Sudan Interior Mission)
      • TEKAN: 2.8% (outgrowth of the Sudan United Mission)
      • Baptist: 1.6%
      • Methodist: 1.5%
      • Other Protestant: 2.7%
    • African Christian: 18.25% (Denominations with no Western ties)
      • Christ Apostolic Church: 1.8%
      • Church of God Mission International: 1.25%
      • The Church of the Lord (Aladura): 1.1%
      • Cherubim and Seraphim: 0.7%
      • Deeper Life Bible Church: 0.7%
      • Other African Christian: 12.7% (more than 4200 denominations)
    • Roman Catholic: 13.45%
    • Marginal Christian/Unaffiliated Christian 2.1%
      • Jehovah’s Witnesses: 0.5%
      • Other Marginal Christian: 1.6%
  • Muslim: 41%. Almost all Sunni (Predominantly in the North; about 25 percent of the population in the South West)
  • Indigenous beliefs: 6%
  • Non-religious/Other: 0.4% (Mostly urban intellectuals)

According to

  • Christianity: 61,437,208 (47.16%)
  • Islam: 54,665,801 (41.97%)
  • Ethnoreligionists: 13,642,132 (10.47%)
  • Non Religious: 378,006 (0.29%)
  • Atheism: 47,350 (0.04%)
  • Baha’i Faith: 33,366 (0.03%)
  • Neoreligionists: 19,646 (0.02%)
  • Buddhism: 6,953 (0.01%)
  • Chinese Universists: 3,843 (0.00%)
  • Judaism: 938 (0.00%)

NOTE : evaluates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectation, higher infant humanity, higher death rates, lower population growth rates, and changes in the distribution of residents by age and sex than would otherwise be expected (July 2014 est.)

Age structure: 0-14 years: 43.2% (female 37,353,737/male 39,151,304)
15-24 years: 19.3% (female 16,732,533/male 17,486,117)
25-54 years: 30.5% (female 26,285,816/male 27,697,644)
55-64 years: 3.9% (female 3,571,301/male 3,393,631)
65 years and over: 3.1% (female 2,861,826/male 2,621,845) (2014 est.)
Dependency ratios: youth dependency ratio: 84 %
total dependency ratio: 89.2 %
potential support ratio: 19.3
elderly dependency ratio: 5.2 % (2014 est.)
Median age: female: 18.3 years
male: 18.1 years
total: 18.2 years (2014 est.)
Birth rate: 1,000 population/38.03 births (2014 est.)
Death rate: 1,000 population/13.16 deaths (2014 est.)
Net migration rate: 1,000 population/-0.22 migrant(s) (2014 est.)
Population growth: 2.47% (2014 est.)
Urbanization: rate of urbanisation: 3.75% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
urban population: 49.6% of total population (2011)
Major cities – population:  Kaduna 1.524 million; Port Harcourt 1.894 million; ABUJA (capital) 2.153 million; Ibadan 2.949 million; Kano 3.375 million; Lagos 11.223 million;(2011)
Sex ratio: total population: 1.01 male(s)/female (2014 est.)

65 years and over: 0.85 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female

Infant mortality rate: female: 68.87 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 79.02 deaths/1,000 live birthstotal: 74.09 deaths/1,000 live births(2014 est.)
Mother’s mean age at first birth: note: median age at first birth among women 25-29 (2013 est.)


Life expectancy at birth:  female: 53.66 years
male: 51.63 years
total population: 52.62 years (2014 est.)
HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate 3.1% (2012 est.)
Contraceptive prevalence rate 14.1% (2011)
Total fertility rate 5.25 children born/woman (2014 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS 3,426,600 (2012 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths 239,700 (2012 est.)
Sanitation facility access: unimproved:
rural: 75.3% of population
urban: 69.2% of population
total: 72.2% of population
rural: 24.7% of population
urban: 30.8% of population
total: 27.8% of population
(2012 est.)
Major infectious diseases: degree of risk: very high
vectorborne illness: malaria, dengue fever, and yellow fever
water contact illness: leptospirosis and schistosomiasis
respiratory illness: meningococcal meningitis
aerosolized dust or soil contact illness: one of the most highly endemic areas for Lassa fever
food or waterborne illness: bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever
animal contact illness: rabies
note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2013)
Nationality: adjective: Nigerian
noun: Nigerian(s)

Ethnic groups – Nigeria, Africa’s most populated country, is collected of more than 250 folkloric groups; the following are the most populated and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, Tiv 2.5%


Religions – Christian 40%, Muslim 50%,  indigenous beliefs 10%

Languages – Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani, English (official), Hausa, over 500 further indigenous languages

Literacy – definition: age 15 and over can read and write
male: 72.1%
female: 50.4% (2010 est.)
total population: 61.3%

School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education) – total: 9 years
female: 8 years
male: 10 year (2005)

Child labor – children ages 5-14 percentage: 29 %
total number: 11,396,823 (2007 est.)
Maternal mortality 630 deaths/100,000 live births (2010)
Education expenditures NA
Health expenditures 5.3% of GDP (2011)
Physicians density 0.4 physicians/1,000 population (2008)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight 24.4% (2011)
Obesity – adult prevalence rate 6.5% (2008)
Hospital bed density 0.53 beds/1,000 population (2004)



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