Ethnic Composition And Culture: Taraba is a highly heterogeneous, multiethnic state with close to eighty indigenous ethnic groups speaking different languages. Some of these groups are too small numerically, thus posing the problem of political insignificance in a democratic polity.
Some of the major ethnic groups include Fulani, Mumuye, Jukun, Jenjo, Kuteb, Chamba and Mambilla, each forming a mosaic in at least one local government area. The Bollere, Kode and Lo are among the very small tribes living in harmony with other groups. Fulfulde, Hausa, Mumuye and Jukun are among the more widely spoken languages in the state.
The major occupation of the people of Taraba State is agriculture, and other primary activities like fishing, pottery, clothweaving, dying, matmaking, wood carving, embroidery and black smithing. These form the basis of the state's rural economy. The culture of the people in the state is as varied as their ethnic groups.
These are manifested in their general behaviour, social values, fashion, art and craft, dances, songs and musical instruments. Accordingly, there are a variety of cultural festivals mostly performed to mark harvest, initiation into manhood or womanhood, installation of rulers, marriage, burial ceremony and general entertainment.
Prominent among the major cultural festivals are the Nwunyo Fishing Festival in Ibi (Ibi Local Government Area), the Purma of the Chamba in Donga (Donga LGA), Puje of the Jukuns (Wukari LGA), Sharo of the Fulanis in Jalingo, ArdoKola, Lau and Bali LGAs, Kuchicheb festival of the Kutebs in Takum LGA, Kati of the Mambilla in Sardauna LGA, and Mantau and NseNse festivals of the Mumuye people in Pantisawa, (Yorro and Zing LGA).
Traditional dances performed by the people include Mazawaje in Kurimi (Kurmi LGA), Lera in Donga, Bali and Takum LGAs; Akishe and Goge dances in Wukari LGA, Nyawata in ArdoKola, Jalingo, Bali and Lau, and the Ichen dance in Donga and Bali. The Adire and Tsakekke cloth (a handwoven and dyed dress) worn by both males and females during festivals are important part of the culture of the Jukuns and Fulanis in Taraba State.
Population Structure and Distribution: From the final result of the 1991 population census, Taraba State is populated by 1,946,156 people (1999 projected). The gender population disparity of 0.6 percent is fairly low. With an estimated land area of about 61,368.8sq. km., the state has a population density of 24.6 persons/sq. km. The state's population is highly juvenile in structure.
The less productive population in the 019 age group account for about 56.2 per cent of the population, while 72.8 percent are aged between 029 years. The implication is that the state will have to invest heavily on providing for the health and educational development of its youthful population. About 5.3 percent of the population are above the official retirement age of sixty years. In other words, the most productive age group (i.e. thirty to fiftynine years) constitute only 21,9 per cent.
Urban and Rural Settlement: By all standards, Taraba State is predominantly rural. Based on the 1999 projected population of the major set tlements in the state, only about 11.6 per cent of the state's population live in four towns with population exceeding 20,000 .
If urban settlements are defined as those places with over 20,000 inhabitants, then the typically rural nature of the state can be appreciated. On the other hand, there are only eleven settlements with population ranging between 10,000-20,000 inhabitants and which can best be described as small towns.