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Igbo people
Ndị Igbọ
Igbo people.jpg
Total population
15–30 million worldwide (est.)
Regions with significant populations
 Nigeria 15–30 million [N 1]
 United Statesa[1][2]
 United Kingdomb[3]
 Sierra Leone~30,000 (1839)[5]
 Ghana~21,000 (1969)[6]
 Equatorial Guinea[7]
Bioko~8,680 (2002)[8]
 Trinidad and Tobagod+2,863 (1813)[10][N 2]
 Japan~1680 (est.)[11]
 Saint Lucia+894 (1815)[12][N 2]
 Canadae+715 (2006)[13][N 3]
 Saint Kitts and Nevis+440 (1817)[14][N 2]
 Guyana+111 (1819)[15][N 2]
Historical: Igbo, Igboid languages
Predominantly: English, Vernacular of home country.
Historical: Traditional Igbo Religions
Predominantly: Christianity (Roman Catholic, Protestant)
Related ethnic groups
Ibibio, Ijaw, Efik, Ejagham, Annang, Eket, Ogoni, Urhobo/Isoko, Idoma, Igala, Esan
African Diaspora
a Igbo American, b Nigerian British, c Igbo Jamaican,
d Afro-Trinidad & Tobago e Igbo Canadian

Further diaspora due to Slavery is unknown

  1. Sources vary widely about the population. Mushanga, p. 166, says "over 20 million"; Nzewi (quoted in Agawu), p. 31, says "about 15 million"; Okafor, p. 86, says "about twenty-five million"; Okpala, p. 21, says "around 30 million"; and Smith, p. 508, says "approximately 20 million". Assuming the figure of 18% of the population is still accurate, the CIA World Factbook population total suggests 27 million.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Slave population born in Africa may not express the complete amount of people in these countries with Igbo ancestry at the time.
  3. 19,520 identify as Nigerian, 61,430 identify as black.

The Igbo people are located primarily in the south-eastern area of Nigeria and constitute one of Afrika’s largest ethnic groups, with a population of approximately 25 million. Although the large majority of Igbo people live in the southeastern part of Nigeria, Igbos are also found in neighboring countries, suchas Benin, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Niger.

Migration & Early History

The migration paths the Igbos walked to get to their current territory in southeastern Nigeria is still a debated issue. According to one theory, the Igbo people could have migrated to West Africa from as far away as Egypt thousands of years ago[16]. Traditionally, Igbos have placed a great emphasis on land and farming, and this, coupled with their will to work hard, helped shape their mental and spiritual frame of reference, to this day. In this culture, working the land and tilling the soil is seen as making a person closer to the good Earth and nearer to the generous God. It can be said that the Igbos have developed, through time, an effective religious system that sustains them. This entry looks at their belief system and at their experience during the time of slavery.

Igbo Spirituality

The Igbo spirituality promotes a personal and positive connection with one's family and people, nature, water, the Earth, the sun, the universe, fire, and God/Goddess. According to Igbo cosmology, two worlds exist—spiritual and physical. The two worlds are distinct, although also deeply interrelated and interdependent. The spirit world is inhabited by at least four distinguishable sets of entities. First are the spirits that have become disconnected from the physical bodies at the time of death, Ndichie (Ancestors). Some of them have reached their destination and lay in the spiritual space of good spirits. Others, in contrast, who have failed to do so sometimes make incursions into the physical world and cause misfortunes among the living. The second set of entities is personal spirits, Chi- (Guardian). The Igbo believe that every human has been endowed with a Chi at the time of their birth. The Chi is responsible for the source of life and destiny of the individual. The third set of entities is the spirits connected with nature and nonhuman entities, Alusi. Those, such as the Earth, the sky, the sun, and the water never had physical human bodies. Finally, the fourth set of spirits is evil spirits Ula Chi (“adversary of Chi”), and Akaloglii. The Igbos believe those evil spirits to be humans who became completely wicked and enjoy inflicting pain and grief on humans. Whereas offerings and sacrifices are bestowed to all of the spirits in the Igbo cosmology to appease them for blessings and protection, evil ones are not granted such an honor. Instead, they are given the least and worthless items to keep them at a distance to prevent havoc in families and the society as a whole. The Supreme Being in Igbo mythology is addressed as Chukwu or Chineke. Chukwu is a compound word from Chi (“personal guiding spirit”) and ukwu (“big”), which can be translated as “the big or great Chi.” Chineke is also a compound word from Chi (“personal guiding spirit”), na (“who”), and eke (“to share out”), which can be translated as “supreme being who shares.” The Igbo traditional and ancient spiritual system is centered around the belief that there is a single, unique, and individual spiritual being who is the foremost provider and on whom, as a result, all living things are ultimately dependent for guidance, blessings, love, protection, support, and so on. Chukwu is not categorized as either a male or female spiritual entity.[17]


  1. Gordon, April A. (2003). Nigeria's Diverse Peoples: A Reference Sourcebook (illustrated, annotated ed.). ABC-CLIO. pp. 245–246. ISBN 1-57607-682-2.
  2. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named yorku
  3. "Country Profile: Nigeria". Foreign and Commonwealth Office. February 13, 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-23.
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Forrest 1994 272
  5. Eltis, David; Richardson, David (1997). Routes to slavery: direction, ethnicity, and mortality in the transatlantic slave trade. Routledge. p. 72. ISBN 0-7146-4820-5.
  6. Eades, Jeremy Seymour (1993). Strangers and Traders: Yoruba Migrants, Markets and the State in Northern Ghana (illustrated ed.). Edinburgh University Press. p. 200. ISBN 0-7486-0386-7.
  7. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Mwakikagile 2006 86
  8. Minahan, James (2002). Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: S-Z. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 330. ISBN 0-313-32384-4.
  9. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named jamaicaigbo
  10. Higman, B. W. (1995). Slave populations of the British Caribbean, 1807–1834 (reprint ed.). The Press, University of the West Indies. p. 450. ISBN 976-640-010-5.
  11. Brasor, Philip (February 18, 2007). "'Africans in Japan' . . . not from the quill of Ishihara, thank God". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
  12. Higman, B. W. (1995). Slave populations of the British Caribbean, 1807–1834 (reprint ed.). The Press, University of the West Indies. ISBN 976-640-010-5.
  13. "Ethnic origins, 2006 counts, for Canada, provinces and territories". bottom: Statistics Canada. Retrieved 2010-04-04.
  14. Higman, B. W. (1995). Slave populations of the British Caribbean, 1807–1834 (reprint ed.). The Press, University of the West Indies. p. 443. ISBN 976-640-010-5.
  15. Higman, B. W. (1995). Slave populations of the British Caribbean, 1807–1834 (reprint ed.). The Press, University of the West Indies. p. 455. ISBN 976-640-010-5.
  17. Encyclopedia of African Religion (reprint ed.). SAGE. 2009. p. 333. ISBN 9781412936361.