Regions in Nigeria: Political, Cultural and Business Overview

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Nigeria is a geographical area with diverse ethnic groups. It is estimated that the country has 527 languages and over 1150 dialects and ethnic groups.

Basicially, the country is divided into the Northern and Southern Part. The North is composed of 19 states while the South is made up of 17 states. This means the country is made up of 36 states.

The states in Nigeria are distributed between 6 geopolitical zones. This zoning system was instituted during the administration of President Ibrahim Babangida in the 1980s.

smallest states in nigeria

The 6 geo-political zones are:

  • South-West,
  • South-East,
  • South-South,
  • North-East,
  • North-West, and
  • North-Central

In this post, you’ll learn more about these zones in the context of culture, politics and business.

  1. South-West Zone

This zone comprises 6 states namely Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo and Ekiti states. The major cities in this zone include Lagos, Ibadan, Akure, Abeokuta, Ogbomoso, Osogbo and Ado-Ekiti.

The predominant ethnic group in this Zone is the Yoruba and the popular language spoken here is Yoruba.

The Yoruba are hardworking people and they are found in diverse kinds of professions from trading to academics. For instance, Okemesi, a small town in Ekiti state, is said to have one of the highest concentration of professors in the country.

Lagos is the major economic centre of the country. One of the busiest and largest sea ports in Africa is located in this state. The GDP of Lagos represents more than 30% of the country’s GDP. The state is also the most populous despite being the smallest in terms of size.

The largest state in this region is Oyo State with a size of 28,454 km2. You can also find the first tertiary institution, first industrial estates, teaching hospital and first TV station in the state.

  1. South-East Zone

This zone comprises Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Imo and Abia states. The popular towns in this state include Aba, Onitsha, Enugu, Owerri and Abakaliki. In places like Onitsha, the presence of a large market makes this region quite attractive to investors.

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Enugu state is the largest state with land mass of 7,161 km2 while the smallest is Anambra is 4,844 km2

The language spoken in the South East is Igbo and the Igbo people make up the core of this zone.

Generally, the Igbo people are quite enterprising. In fact, Anambra is said to be one of the richest states in the country with several billionaires being traded to this state. These include the likes of Emeka Offor (the Chrome Group), Ifeanyi Ubah (Capitol Oil), Innocent Chukwuma (Innoson Motors), Cosmas Maduka (Coscharis Motors), Cletus Ibeto (Ibeto Group) and Augustine Ilodibe (Ekene dili Chukwu Transport).

  1. South-South Zone

The states that make up this zone include Edo, Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Cross-River and Akwa-Ibom states. The major cities in this zone include Benin, PortHarcourt, Calabar, Warri, Uyo, Yenagoa and Asaba.

Cross-River State is the largest state in the zone. There is diversity of ethnic groups in this zone. These include the Ijaw (Bayelsa), Bini, Essan (Edo), Urhobo, Itsekiri (Delta), Ikwere, Ogoni (Rivers) Ibibio, Annang (Akwa Ibom) and Efik, Ejagham (Cross River).

The South South is the oil producing region of the country and there is a large concentration of oil companies here.

Also, cities like Calabar and Port Harcourt are some of the major cities in the country. In fact, Port Harcourt which is the capital city of Rivers is said to be the third most important city in Nigeria. The combined GDP of the states in the South South is the highest in Nigeria.

  1. North-East Zone

This zone comprises six states namely: Taraba, Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Bauchi and Gombe states.

Some of the major cities here include Yola, Maiduguri, Bauchi, Gombe, Potiskum, Damaturu and Jalingo.

Borno State has a land area of 70,898 km2 which makes it the largest state in the North-East.

The ethnic groups in the North East include the Mumuye, Tiv (Taraba), Balewa, Fulani (Bauchi), Fulani, Tangalawaja (Gombe), Fulani, Kanuri (Yobe), Kanuri, Babur (Borno) and Fulfulde, Fulani (Adamawa).

Generally, the North East has been ravaged by insurgency and terrorism which has affected the viability of this zone in terms of business. Many investors and businesses have left the North East to saner climes due to these attacks.

  1. North-West Zone

The North West consists of the following states: Sokoto, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kaduna, Katsina, Kano and Jigawa.

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The popular cities here include Sokoto, Kaduna, Zaria, Kano, Katsina, Birnin-Kebbi, Dutse and Gusau.

Kano used to be an important economic centre during the colonial times as the region was involved in the export of groudnut, textile and many other agriculture produce. Nonetheless, the North still represents a major part of the Nigerian economy as a significant portion of the food consumed in the country is grown here.

The North West is one of the largest regions in the country and it is highly populated. In fact, one of the states here, Kano is said to be the most populated state in the country based on the last population census.

According to reports, the zone has about 25% of the total Nigeria population.

The ethnic groups in this zone include: Hausa, Jabba (Kaduna), Hausa, Zuru (Kebbi), Hausa-Fulani, Gbagyi (Zamfara), Hausa-Fulani, Baju (Kano), Hausa-Fulani, Zara (Sokoto), Hausa-Fulani, Maguzawa (Katsina) and Hausa-Fulani, Kanuri (Jigawa).

  1. North Central Zone

This zone is made up of Kwara, Kogi, Plateau, Nassarawa, Benue and Niger states. The country’s Federal Capital Territory is also located here.

In Benue state, the residents are primarily farmers and the state is known for producing different kinds of food crops. The most popular one is yam which is sold to different parts of the country.

Niger State (76,363 km2) is the biggest state in the North-Central.

Some of the major ethnic groups in the North Central region include the Gbagyi, Gwandara (Abuja), Tiv, Idoma (Benue), Igala, Ebira (Kogi), Yoruba, Nupe (Kwara), Mada-Eggon, Tiv (Nasarawa), Nupe, Gbagyi (Niger) and Berom, Mangu (Plateau).

The major cities in the zone include Abuja, Ilorin, Makurdi, Minna, Jos, Lokoja and Lafia.


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