Posted by on 3/3/2003 9:52:20 AM

Ethnic Composition, Language, Culture and the Arts: The population of Plateau State is highly heterooeneous with over

Sabo Gida Kanar Tin Mines, Bukuru
Sabo Gida Kanar Tin Mines, Bukuru

forty ethno-linouistic groups. No single ethnic group is large enough to claim majority position, but the following are regarded as the major ones: Birom, Angas, Nwangahvul, Tiv, Taroh, Goernai, Tal, Fier, Afizere (Jarawa), Miango, Yourn, Bogghom, Rukuba, Piapung, Kwalla, Montol, Jukun, Challa, Ron-kulere, Pyern, Miship, Mupun, Buji, Kanuri and Nunku. Each ethnic group has its own distinct language, but as in every other state of the federation, English is the official language in Plateau State while Hausa has gained acceptability as a medium of communication.

A common feature among the ethnic groups in Plateau State is the strong attachment to dance culture and the performance of festivals, initiation rites and naming ceremonies, religious rituals and ancestral worship. Recently, there has been a tendency to incorporate several traditional festivals which normally span the whole year into one mega festival to save costs and attract many participants.

A few of such mega-festivals performed once a year in different LGAs are Pusdung (Pankshin LGA), Pus Kai'at (Mangu LGA), Bit Goernui (Shendam ' LGA),and Panyam fishing festival (Quaian Pan . LGA). The main religions of the people of Plateau State are traditional African religions, Christianity and Islam.

NASCO Industrial Complex
NASCO Industrial Complex

Population Structure and Distribution: The 1991 national census put the population of Plateau ; State at 2,959,588, comprising 1,027,926 males and 1,031,662 females (Table 31.1). The average population density in the state is sixty-one persons per Plateau State is a sparsely populated area when compared with the national population density of ninety-six persons per sq. km.

Population density still varies nonetheless among the LGAs of the state. Jos North, Jos South and Jos East have a combined population density of 391 persons per to become the most densely populated parts of Plateau State. The rest of the state can be said to have fairly low population ranging between forty and 125 persons per sq. km. I The high concentration of people in Jos North, Jos South and Jos East LGAs can be attributed to the attraction of mining, industrial and commercial activities, which are concentrated in and around Jos, the state capital. On the whole, the low population density of Plateau State is due to its rugged terrain and the extensive land-dependent nature of its rural economy.

Age and Sex Structure: The population of I Plateau State displays an age-sex structure much like that of the other states of

Hill Station Hotel, Jos
Hill Station Hotel, Jos

the federation. On the whole, females are slightly more than males, although the males out-number the females in some LGAs. In Plateau State, the proportion of the young (ten to fifteen years) is as high as forty-five percent, while those between sixteen to sixty-five years old constitute about fifty-three percent of the population and the aged account for only two percent.

Rural Settlements: The settlement pattern in Plateau State has been greatly influenced by physiographic factors and the emergence of new transport routes. The pre-colonial settlement pattern in the state was characterized by nucleated villages located on hill tops for protection. The extended family or lineage lived in compounds which were sited amidst terraced fields and fringed with cacti hedges and tight walls of mud and stones. Today, people live largely in low land areas in dispersed settlements and compounds, usually unfenced.

Urban Development: The city of Jos is the largest settlement in Plateau State. It owes its origin to the introduction of tin mining on the Jos Plateau and railway lines linking it with Port Harcourt and Lagos, thus bringing the area into the orbit of the world economy. The development of the tin mining industry has generated both positive and negative impacts on Jos and its environs.

Assop Waterfalls
Assop Waterfalls

On the positive side, tin mining led to the influx of migrants, mostly Hausas, lbos, Yorubas and Europeans who constitute over half of the population of the town, making it a highly cosmopolitan and most peaceful urban centre in this part of the country. Tin mining also provided the base for capital formation by which the people were able to diversify into a wide range of commercial and industrial enterprises.

In addition, tin mining provided the impetus for the early development of western education, a dense network of roads, in Jos and its environs, as well as the regular supply of hydro-electricity. On the negative side, tin mining has adversely affected the morphology of Jos metropolis, which is characterised by a leap-frog type of development, largely as a result of numerous long term mining leases estimated to cover about fifty percent of the land of Greater Jos Planning Area.

Not only has much arable land been lost to mining in this area, the numerous mine pits and heaps of overburden, which were not effectively covered or removed have greatly reduced its natural scenic beauty. Furthermore, the initial advantage which tin mining conferred on Jos and the subsequent concentration of investments there, have turned it into a primate city within Plateau State with all the attendant socio-economic problems of unemployment, congestion, over-stretched facilities and high crime rate.

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