Language and Ethnic Groups

  • Barry Floyd


The omnipresence of human beings is a fundamental fact of Eastern Nigeria’s geography. Inhabiting the 29,400 square miles of land area are some 12,400,000 people1: men, women and especially children, of various languages, dialects and cultures. Under peacetime conditions, one is seldom out of sight of people and their habitations on journeys around the region; in few parts of Eastern Nigeria is it possible to feel isolated from a vibrant and emerging society. The reassuring sight of men and women about their business, walking or cycling along roads, forest paths and ‘bush’ trails in the countryside, or along streets in the villages and busy towns, is the reality of life in this significant section of Africa. Only over limited stretches, as in the remote interior of the Oban Hills or the swamps of the lower Niger Delta, are populations negligible or non-existent.2 In these characteristics Eastern Nigeria is distinct from most of tropical Africa where sparser populations and extensive stretches of under-settled land are the rule rather than the exception.


Niger Delta Language Group Linguistic Group Guinea Coast Cement Block 
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  1. 1.
    P. A. Talbot and H. Mulhall, The Physical Anthropology of Southern Nigeria. A Biometric Study in Statistical Method (Cambridge, 1962).Google Scholar
  2. 1.
    O. Nzekwu, ‘Ibo People’s Costumes’, Nigeria Magazine, 78 (Sept. 1963), p. 164.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    For an informative account of a traditional Eastern Nigerian cloth, Akwete (woven by women), see L. O. Ukeje, ‘Weaving in Akwete’, Nigeria Magazine, 74 (Sept. 1962), pp. 32–41.Google Scholar
  4. 1.
    P. A. Talbot, Peoples of Southern Nigeria (London, 1926), vol. iv, pp. 72, 82.Google Scholar
  5. 1.
    K. O. Dike, Trade and Politics in the Niger Delta 1832–1885 (Oxford, 1956)Google Scholar
  6. G. I. Jones, The Trading States of the Oil Rivers. A Study of Political Development in Eastern Nigeria (London, 1963).Google Scholar
  7. 1.
    Extracted from Department of Statistics, Nigeria, Population Census of the Eastern Region of Nigeria 1953 (Lagos, 1953), table 7, p. 40.Google Scholar
  8. 1.
    G. T. Basden, Niger Ibos (London, 1921), p. 11.Google Scholar
  9. 2.
    C. Daryll Forde and G. I. Jones, The Ibo and Ibibio Speaking Peoples of Southeastern Nigeria (London, 1950), p. 5.Google Scholar
  10. 1.
    G. I. Jones, ‘Dual Organization in Ibo Social Structure’, Africa xix (1949), p. 150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Barry Floyd 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barry Floyd
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NigeriaNsukkaNigeria

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