Nigerian culture & dress

Updated April 17, 2017

Nigeria is located in West Africa, along the eastern coast of the Gulf of Guinea. Nigeria has the largest population of all the countries in Africa with a total population of 152,217,341 according to the CIA World Factbook. The country gained its independence from the British in 1960. Despite the colonisation by the British, Nigeria preserves traditional customs and ethnic traditions.


Nigeria is located in western Africa, between Benin and Cameroon. Nigeria in size comparison would be slightly larger than the size of the state of California doubled. Weather in the country varies between tropical in the centre, dry desert-like conditions in the north and extremely hot temperatures in the south due to the closeness of the area to the equator. The country's natural resources include; natural gas, tin, petroleum, iron ore, coal, limestone, lead and zinc. Current natural hazards include: periodic droughts in the northern part of the country and flooding in the centre mid-region.


Nigeria is made up of over 250 ethnic group including; the Hausa, Fulani make up 29 per cent--these two groups comprise the majority of the Nigerian population--the Yoruba consists of 21 per cent, Ibo 18 per cent, Ijaw makes up 10 per cent, Kanuri 4 per cent, Ibibio 3.5 per cent and Tiv 2.5 per cent are additional ethnic groups found throughout the country. English is the official language of the country. However, there are an estimated 521 total languages being spoken in Nigeria. Nigerians most commonly speak the native tongue of their ethnic group. The languages can be classified within three main families of African languages: Niger-Congo languages, the Hausa language and Kanuri.

Cultural Food

Nigerian custom is to cook and eat at home, making enough food for the immediate family and anyone else who might stop by during dinner hours. Goat, cow, chicken, turkey, geese, pigeon, fish and all types of seafood and fresh vegetables and fruits are staples of Nigerian meals. Popular Nigerian dishes include; obe, a type of soup, iresi which means rice, ewa or beans, isu or yams and ogede or plaintains.


Traditional Nigerian dress includes garments made from jacquard, adire, tie dye and ankara. Nigerian women garments include; a buba, a blouse with long sleeves, an iro or skirt, a gele or headpiece, or a kaba, which is a one-piece dress that can be worn in a variety of different ways. Traditional Nigerian men clothing consists of; a buba, a sokoto similar to pants or trousers, a fila, which is a round cap cut to slide on the head, or a abbeti-aja, which is a different kind of hat, where the sides of the hat are longer and folded up. Nigerians also dress in more western influenced clothing including dresses, suits, skirts, blouses, T-shirts and baseball caps.


Nigerian culture is male dominated. Men have little obligation to provide for their wives and children. Very few women are active in professional and political careers. In northern regions of the country women are locked away if another male visits. Handing things to adults or elders with the left hand is considered an insult and should not be done.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Candace N. Smith is a fashion and business writer in New York. Beginning her writing career in 2007, her work has appeared in various fashion publications including "Kouture Magazine." Graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in fashion marketing from American InterContinental University, Los Angeles, she's taken her experience in fashion, marketing and brand management, and shares that knowledge in her writing.