An Overview of Nigerian Americans in the U.S.

June 1, 2012 in Demographics, Ethnic Communities

Originally published on our multicultural marketing newsletter, réd.

the Nigerian American community

Always among the top countries with the happiest people is Nigeria, the largest country in Africa. They boast of their friendly and hospitable people—often ready to help at any given time. Today there are 260,724 (.08 percent of the population) Nigerian Americans in the U.S., the largest African immigrant group in the nation, according to the 2010 American Community Survey. The largest Nigerian American communities can be found in Texas, New York, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Ohio. African Americans are the second largest minority group in the U.S. at 43.9 million, making up 1.6 percent of the population. The state of New York has the largest black population at 3.7 million while Texas has seen the largest numeric increase since 2010.

Waves of Nigerian immigration started during the slave trade as Nigeria was one of the largest providers of slaves to the European entrepreneurs. By the 1970s, Nigeria became one of the wealthiest nations in Africa due to the oil boom and people began to voluntarily travel to the U.S. to study. Their value for education is still highly evident today with the 95.9 percent of their population 25 and older being a high school graduate, with 34.5 percent having a bachelor’s degree or higher. Fifty-two percent of their working population is in the business, science, arts and management occupations, working under educational services, and health care and social assistance industries (43.5 percent). Their median household income of $59,551 is significantly higher than the national average $51,369 and part of their successful assimilation could be attributed to the fact that English is their official language.

When Nigeria’s economy began to decline at a tragic rate in the 1980s, many remained in the U.S. and obtained citizenship, extending this opportunity to their relatives in Nigeria. Today, 97.3 percent of Nigerian Americans belong to one race. They carried over several traditions including having strong family ties, as opposed to America’s more independent culture. Although they are a predominantly Muslim community, the Nigerian American community did not continue the tradition of marrying several wives. They form strong ties with their nation up to this day and some of their largest celebrations are New Year’s Day, Id al Fitr (end of Ramadan) and Mouloud (birth of the Prophet Mohammed). Actress Femi Emiola, comedian Godfrey, soccer player Tina Ellertson and basketball player Hakeem Olajuwon are just some of the most notable Nigerian American personalities we know today.

Nigerian American Organizations 

The Nigerian American community has various organizations in the U.S., a few of which are listed below.

Alliance of Nigerian Organizations
Association of Nigerians Abroad
League of Patriotic Nigerians
Nigeria Insurers Association
Nigerian American Foundation
Nigerian American Chamber of Commerce
Nigerian American Multi Service Association
Nigerian Information Technology Professionals
Nigerian International Athletes Association
Nigerian Lawyers Association
Nigerian Youth Organization
Nigerians in Diaspora Organization