Language is an integral part of cultural identity and communication. Human adaptation requires that we learn to speak people’s languages literally and figuratively. Hot on the heels on our blog post about the Nigerian Geo-Political zones, Experiencing Naija decided to that it would be more expedient if we direct the conversation on Nigerian languages by discussing languages that can be found in each geopolitical zone.

The official language for Nigeria is English which makes a lot of sense as Nigeria was colonized by the British. However, there are three major languages in the country; Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba which is spoken throughout the country. Nigeria famously has over 500 languages so there is a lot to cover. We wish to streamline our focus to as much as ten Nigerian languages per geopolitical zone.

North Central

The country’s Middle Belt region is famously the most diverse region in Nigeria as there is no dominant language in this area.  This zone is so diverse that the languages differ from village to village and state to state and due to socio economic and political factors, the villages have adapted to learn the language of other regions in such a way that there are several language similarities between languages in the same state. It can be argued that asides socio economic relationships, a common ancestry and history is also responsible for the language similarities between the states. Some languages that can be found in the North Central Part of Nigeria include

  1. Berom
  2. Nupe
  3. Tiv
  4. Igala
  5. Idoma
  6. Angas
  7. Ebira
  8. Jukun
  9. Gwari
  10. Jukun

North East

Unlike the North Central Part of the country, the North Eastern part of the country linguistically leans towards Arabic and Fulani language. Majority of the people in this region speak a combination of languages in addition to their languages including English and Hausa. Some languages in the North East zone include

  1. Izere
  2. Fulfulde
  3. Margi
  4. Kanuri
  5. Shuwa Arabic
  6. Kamwe
  7. Kanuri
  8. Wapan
  9. Bura
  10. Tangale

North West

Popularly described as the indigenously Hausa region of the country, it is no surprise that a large number of the inhabitants of this region speak Hausa, Arabic and/or Fulani alongside their own languages. It will surprise some people that aside those three major languages; there are other languages that originate from this zone. The languages from the North West zone include

  1. Hausa
  2. Arabic
  3. Gbagyi
  4. Adara
  5. Hyam
  6. Tyap
  7. Boko
  8. Zarma
  9. Nghan
  10. Tawellemmet

South West

The predominantly Yoruba speaking part of the country is the South Western Zone. They boast of common ancestry and tradition. Like their Northern and South Eastern counterparts, other languages and dialects are spoken alongside indigenous languages and other major languages in the country. Some of the languages found in the South West zone of Nigeria include

  1. Yoruba
  2. Ewe
  3. Gun
  4. Itsekiri
  5. Izon

South East

The South East zone in Nigeria is predominantly Igbo speaking. With the common theme prevalent in other zones, we find that there are various other languages originating from the South Eastern part of Nigeria. These languages include

  1. Igbo
  2. Ikwo
  3. Izi
  4. Mgbo
  5. Ezaa


South South

The South South zone in Nigeria popularly known as the Niger Delta found along the coastal region of the country. Similar to the Middle Belt, this region is diverse and there is no dominant language prevalent in the region. Also people from this region have adapted to speak other languages in the country especially the three major languages alongside their indigenous language. Some languages from the South South zone include

  1. Edo
  2. Efik
  3. Itsekiri
  4. Urhobo
  5. Yala
  6. Ijaw
  7. Esan
  8. Ogoni
  9. Ibibio
  10. Ukwuani

What is your language? Where in the country are you from and can you speak more than one Nigerian language? Are there other Nigerian languages from your region that were left out of the lists? What Nigerian language will you like to learn?

Please carry on the conversation about Nigerian languages in the comments section and across our social media platforms and Keep Experiencing Naija.

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