One in every five Africans (20%) is a Nigerian. I've heard this one for years and have often used it when trying to explain how densely populated Nigeria is. Keep in mind that Nigeria only occupies 3% of the land space in Africa. By the way, Nigeria has a population of approximately 140 million, which is about half of the U.S. population.
One-quarter (25%) of the African languages are found in Nigeria. There are 58 countries within Africa. Isn't it amazing that one-quarter of the African languages are found here?! Not only are we densely populated, but we also have very diverse languages and people groups. By the way, these are unique languages, not simply dialects of one language.
Nigeria has at least 500 known languages! Let's put this in perspective: Nigeria is one-tenth the size of the USA. If the United States were comparable to Nigeria in terms of language density, the U.S. could boast of 5000 different languages.
Plateau State, Nigeria has more languages per square mile than anywhere else in the world. This is the state we live in!
You may be wondering, "How on earth do they communicate?!" Quite well actually. Almost all of my experience has been in the city, and many of the people I work with easily speak 3-4 languages--and think nothing of it!!
- They speak their tribal/village language.
- They speak the trade language which is Hausa in this region.
- They speak Pigeon English or Broken English if they have not gone beyond a primary school education.
- They speak English if they have had a decent amount of schooling.
Just as I am amazed by them, they are also amazed that I only speak one language--and I'm educated!
There are three major trade languages in Nigeria: Hausa in the North; Yoruba in the Southwest; and Igbo in the Southeast.
With different languages come different cultures, foods, and traditions. Obviously, conflict can and does occur. However, now that I think of it, I guess it's actually pretty amazing that we don't have more conflict than we do. Overall, I think the cultures interact and get along amazingly well most of the time.
I really wanted to post some maps with this blog, but had a hard time getting some decent ones off the 'net so we'll just have to make do with photos of the maps on my kitchen walls. Here is Nigeria with its 36 states. Plateau State is the green one close to the middle, and yes, part of it is on a plateau.