|Africa, from Nigeria eastwards and southwards|
The Benue-Congo languages shown within the Niger-Congo language family. Non-Benue-Congo languages are greyscale.
Bantoid is only a collective term for every subfamily of Bantoid-Cross except Cross River, and this is no longer seen as forming a valid branch, however one of the subfamilies, Southern Bantoid, is still considered valid. It is Southern Bantoid which contains the Bantu languages, which are spoken across most of Sub-Saharan Africa. This makes Benue-Congo one of the largest subdivisions of the Niger-Congo language family, both in number of languages, of which Ethnologue counts 976 (2017), and in speakers, numbering perhaps 350 million. Benue-Congo also includes a few minor isolates in the Nigeria-Cameroon region, but their exact relationship is uncertain.
The neighbouring Volta-Niger branch of Nigeria and Benin is sometimes called "West Benue-Congo", but it does not form a united branch with Benue-Congo. When Benue-Congo was first proposed by Joseph Greenberg (1963), it included Volta-Niger (as West Benue-Congo); the boundary between Volta-Niger and Kwa has been repeatedly debated. Blench (2012) states that if Benue-Congo is taken to be "the noun-class languages east and north of the Niger", it is likely to be a valid group, though no demonstration of this has been made in print.
The branches of the Benue-Congo family are thought to be as follows:
Ukaan is also related to Benue-Congo; Roger Blench suspects it might be either the most divergent (East) Benue-Congo language or the closest relative to Benue-Congo.
Below is a list of major Benue-Congo branches and their primary locations (centres of diversity) within Nigeria based on Blench (2019).
|Cross River||Cross River, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers States|
|Bendi||Obudu and Ogoja LGAs, Cross River State|
|Mambiloid||Sardauna LGA, Taraba State; Cameroon|
|Dakoid||Mayo Belwa LGA, Taraba State and adjacent areas|
|Yukubenic||Takum LGA, Taraba State|
|Kainji||Kauru LGA, Kaduna State and Bassa LGA, Plateau State; Kainji Lake area|
|Plateau||Plateau, Kaduna, and Nasarawa States|
|Tivoid||Obudu LGA, Cross River State and Sardauna LGA, Taraba State; Cameroon|
|Beboid||Takum LGA, Taraba State; Cameroon|
|Ekoid||Ikom and Ogoja LGAs, Cross River State; Cameroon|
|Grassfields||Sardauna LGA, Taraba State; Cameroon|
|Jarawan||Bauchi, Plateau, Adamawa, and Taraba States|