Hausa or Haussa (both: houˈsə, –sä) [key], black African ethnic group, numbering about 23 million, chiefly in N Nigeria and S Niger. The Hausa are almost exclusively Muslim and practice agriculture. Their widespread trading activities have contributed to making their language a lingua franca in much of W Africa. In earlier times the Hausa were organized in the Hausa States. Long the vassals of Bornu, the states were conquered by the Songhay in 1513 and by the Fulani in the early 19th cent. In colonial Nigeria the traditional Hausa-Fulani social and political structure was largely maintained under the British policy of indirect rule. The Hausa remain a major force in Nigerian politics.
See I. Madauci, Hausa Customs (1968); P. Hill, Rural Hausa (1972) and Population, Property and Poverty (1977); W. S. Miles, Elections in Nigeria (1988).