As one of the economic powerhouses of Africa, the hunger for higher education in Nigeria has grown tremendously. In recent years, the demand for post-secondary education has greatly exceeded the number of seats available in academic institutions. This demand is complimented with government encouragement of education. Nigeria promises to be a major contributor to the number of international students in Canada in the near future.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria is located in West Africa, and gets its name from the Niger river that runs through the country. It is the most populous country in Africa with more than 160 million people and has the highest growth and fertility rates in the world. There are 521 living languages in Nigeria but the official language is English. Nigeria was colonized by the English in 1884 and gained its independence from Britain in 1960. There are more than 250 different ethnic groups but three dominant tribes being Ibo, Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba. There are archeological discoveries that show human existence in Nigeria dating back to 9000 BCE which is one of the oldest that has been found. It is believed that Nigeria has the worlds largest diversity of butterflies and in the Rhoko forest you can see over 800 different species alone.

Here are some observations from hosts who have worked with Nigerian students in the past:
Please remember, these are simply some observations hosts and Nigerian citizens have made about their experiences, and of course are not a comment on all Nigerians, or necessarily the culture as a whole.

  • both males and females have tended to be very friendly and outgoing.
  • family ties are strong; asking about the health and well-being of family members is an expected pleasantry.
  • well-meaning students have been perceived as aggressive or pushy through tone and force of voice, and differences in understanding about personal space.
  • students have responded well to plain foods: simple meals such as rice and chicken.
  • English skills are typically very strong: English is an official language of Nigeria.
  • Approximately 50% of visiting Nigerian students are Muslim, and approximately 50% are Christian.
  • Greetings are very important. Spend some time making small talk when you greet your visitor after school/work.


The official language of Nigeria is English and it is widely used for education, business transactions and for official purposes. Even though English is the official language, there are some rural areas where it is not spoken at all. It is very likely that your student will speak English, if not perfect English. However, there is something to be said about communication style and how they vary between regions. In some regions, humour is used to prevent boredom and to relay important messages so that they will not be forgotten. In others, indirect eye contact is used to show respect and in some, people speak very loud. In general, Nigerians are seen as being outgoing and friendly. Feel free to ask your student about their region and communication styles.

Please take into account that the information is a very basic introduction and by no means stereotyping all Nigerian students you may meet!

41ae1.jpg (47.7 KB) Jennifer Wilson, 2013-04-17 00:02

31025.gif (4.9 KB) Jennifer Wilson, 2013-04-17 00:02