Exploring Nigerian Culture

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with a geography as diverse as its people and culture. It is about the same size as the states of California, Nevada, and Utah combined. Lagos, a city along Nigeria’s coastline, is known for its stunning white sand beaches, restaurants, and arts scene. Nigerians take great pride in their heritage. Life in Nigeria generally moves at a slower pace, with a looser sense of time and schedule. Religious services in Nigeria are considered family and community events.

Host a Nigerian student in the U.S.

People and Community

LB at St. Mary’s hospital in Gwagwalada, Nigeria, Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2006. White House photo by Shealah Craighead

Most Nigerian households consist of a mother, father, and children, and many include grandparents, uncles, and aunts as well. In Nigeria, family sizes vary. A family living in a more urban area may have between three to five children, while a more rural family may have as many as seven to ten.

In most Nigerian families, the father is considered the head of the house. He makes most decisions and is the primary breadwinner for the family. Women are usually responsible for childrearing and household duties. In most families in Nigeria, children eat separately from adults. Nigerians have tremendous respect for their elders. Grown children are expected to care for their parents as they age.

Language and Communication Styles

While more than five hundred languages are spoken in Nigeria, the official language is English.


Staples of the Nigerian diet are yams, cassava (a starchy root), plantains, and rice. Common dishes include pounded yam (like mashed potatoes), jollof rice (rice cooked with tomatoes, peppers, and meat), and okra. Nigerian meals traditionally are paired by a sauce made with fish, meat, or chicken. Nigeria’s warm climate allows for a large array of fruits and vegetables to enhance their cuisine.

Additional Resources