Languages of Nigeria

The number of languages currently estimated and catalogued in Nigeria is 521. This number includes 510 living languages, two second languages without native speakers and 9 extinct languages. In some areas of Nigeria, ethnic groups speak more than one language. The official language of Nigeria, English, the former colonial language, was chosen to facilitate the cultural and linguistic unity of the country. The major languages spoken in Nigeria are Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Fulfulde, Kanuri, and Ibibio. Even though most ethnic groups prefer to communicate in their own languages, English, being the official language, is widely used for education, business transactions and for official purposes. English, however, remains an exclusive preserve of the country's urban elite, and is not widely spoken in rural areas. With approximately 75% of Nigeria's populace in the rural areas, the major languages of communication in the country remain national languages, with the most widely spoken being Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba. Foreign minorities speak their own languages aside from English and/or major native languages.

Nigeria's linguistic diversity is a microcosm of Africa as a whole, encompassing three major African languages families: the Afroasiatic, Nilo-Saharan, and the Niger–Congo A branch of the Niger–Congo family. Nigeria also has one unclassifiable language, Cen Tuum, spoken by a few old people among the Cham in Gombe State. This may represent a relic of an even greater diversity prior to the spread of the current language families.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Nigeria