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How Many Languages Are Spoken in Nigeria?

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Except for English, which is the official lingua in Nigeria, we have over 520 tongues verbalized in different parts of the country.  However, among the numerous tongues of the country, we have three major ones.

We call them the big ones because they have the largest population and occupy a large part of the country.

Popular Nigerian Languages

The three most important tongues are Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba. We also have Fulfulde, Kanuri, Tiv, Ijaw, Ibibio, Isekiri, Idoma, Berom, Igala, and many others.

Most of these Nigerian tongues are majorly spoken in rural areas.

Do you desire to know more about Nigerian tongues? Then stick around with us. In this article, we will focus on certain well-known tongues across the country.

Not only that but also with their geographical location.

We will examine these verbalized tongues according to the four cardinal directorates of the country, including the Middle Belt. These are the north, the south, the east, and the west respectively.

Tongues within the North Pole

Here we will examine some tongues that are spoken in the northern part of Nigeria. They include Hausa, Kanuri, Fulfulde, and others.

  • Hausa

This language is one of the main tongues in Nigeria as well as in the north of the country. Most of its speakers come from the Islamic culture that has crossed over 13 northern states.

Approximately 30 million people verbalize mainly Hausa in the North. In fact, there is a Hausa- lingua international radio station called the BBC.

Some regions which speak mostly Hausa in the north include Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Zamfara, Jigawa, Sokoto, Gombe, Katsina, and Bauchi.

  • Fulfulde

Even in northern Nigeria, Fulfulde is another well-verbalized lingua. Speakers of this lingua are livestock producers located across the Sahel and are also associated with the Islamic religion.

Approximately 11.5 million people use this dialect in northern Nigeria.  Some regions that mainly speak Fulfulde include Katsina, Kano, Zaria, Maiduguri, and Sokoto.

  • Kanuri

When you move to the northeastern part of Nigeria, you will meet a good number of nationals who mainly speak the Kanuri lingua. As a matter of fact, it is said that more than 3 million people verbalize this dialect.

Some of the notable areas which speak Kanuri consist of Gombe, Borno, Jigawa, and Yobe respectively, though; other areas verbalize the dialect as a second.

Besides these great tongues spoken in the northern parts of Nigeria, there are other tongues spoken by the second or minority tribe.

These tongues include Kanembu, Zambara, Dendi, Ajawa, Kubi, Lere, Zaria, and lost anymore.

Tongues in the Western Pole

The western part of Nigeria is dominated by the Yoruba ethnic group, although there are certain tongues in the Southwest. Nevertheless, we will take a look at some of them.

  • Yoruba

It is another lingua of importance in Nigeria. About 21 million people are said to verbalize this lingua, while only 2 million borrow the lingua.

Part of the western region that primarily speaks the Yoruba lingua includes Osun, Ogun, Lagos, Ondo, Oyo and Kwara, and so forth.

  • Edo

This lingua is primarily spoken in the state of Edo, a region in the southwest of the country.

Bini is another name for this particular lingua and you will be interested to know that there are over 2 million speakers of this lingua in the whole country.

Even though Yoruba and Edo are among the major tongues in the West and Southwest, there are other tongues in this region as well. We have Esan, Okpamheria, and several others.

Languages within the South Pole

Here we will also examine certain tongues in the southern region of Nigeria.

  • Ibibio

It is another popular lingua in the southern region.

If you don’t know, there are an estimated 4.5 million Ibibio’s in the country. Some of the areas that speak this special lingua include the Cross River, the Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia.

  • Ijaw

Many people in the south of the country verbalize Ijaw as their first lingua. About 2 million people verbalize this lingua across areas like Delta, Ondo, Ekiti, and Bayelsa.

Other smaller regions within the South Pole verbalize the lingua, though as the second.

It’s not only the tribes of southern Nigeria; there are other languages too. Some of these include Itsekiri, Urhobo,  Ibino, Egbughu, Ibuoro, Engenn, Izon, Epie, Ijo, Igede, Yala, Efik, Bokyi, and lots more.

Tongues within the East Pole

It will interest you to know that in the eastern region of the country, it’s only Igbo which is mostly verbalized in almost all their regions.

  • Igbo

It is another important Nigerian lingua. An estimated 24 million people speak the lingua as their main lingua.

Some of the eastern regions that majorly speak Igbo consist of Abia, Enugu, Anambra, Ebonyi, Imo, and some parts of Akwa Ibom.

Middle Belt

The middle belt is part of the center of the country. Some of the tongues spoken in these fields include Idoma, Tiv, Berom, Igala, and many more.

  • Tiv

The Tiv lingua is mainly spoken amongst the people of Benue, though some of them may be found in a part of Nassarawa. Approximately 4 million speakers verbalize this lingua.

  • Idoma

Most of the people who verbalize Idoma as their native lingua is from Benue, although some of them can be found in Enugu and some surrounding areas.

Some 3.5 million people speak this lingua throughout Canada.

  • Igala

Most of the Kogi natives verbalize Igala as their main lingua, with over a million speakers. But you may as well find other nationals who speak the Idoma as a second.

  • English

English is the official lingua of the country, so it is verbalized in every corner of the country. Whether in schools, worship centers, and others.

If we are given all day to describe the tongues of Nigeria, we can exhaust them all, since there are many tongues spoken in several regions of the country. The ones we have just mentioned above, are the few selected tongues.

They are selected because they have more people who verbalize the tongues compared to others.

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