Nigeria is a country in West Africa and is often regarded as the Giant of Africa. It is an emerging economy in Africa and the most populous black nation in the world. Nigeria is not only known in Africa but also a force to reckon with on the global stage. Its citizens are breaking grounds in different fields – Sports, Art, Literature, Science etc.
Nigeria’s economy makes it a destination point for both investors within and outside the continent. Due to its increasing population, it is host to some of the largest cities in Africa.
There are thirty-six states in Nigeria, a home to over 250 ethnic groups with Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo being the popular ones. Because of the diverse ethnic groups, there are over five hundred languages spoken in Nigeria.
The crux of this article is to determine the largest cities in Nigeria. You might have argued or heard people argue about it – the largest cities in Nigeria. It’s okay if you don’t know by now or you are looking for proofs to back your claim, we got you covered.
NOTE. This article is based on the largest cities in Nigeria by population. It should not be mistaken with the largest cities in Nigeria by landmass. Now that we have cleared that, below are the top 10 largest cities in Nigeria.
Located in the western part of the country, at the bank of the Atlantic Ocean. Lagos is arguably the most popular state. This soon to be Mega City sits as the economical capital of West Africa at large, as it attracts investors home and abroad due to numerous opportunities.
With a population of over twenty-one million people, these staggering stats are not surprising because the state offers major market growth, from entertainment and lifestyle, to technology and its houses headquarters to many large corporations.
Fun facts: It is where people often think of when they refer to Nigeria.
Lagos is diverse in ethnicity due to local and global migration, though the dominant ethnic group are the Yourbas’. The state just like every other urban city is plagued with Traffic congestion and pollution. Despite the economic growth, economic disparities among the population have become a phenomenon in Lagos. An estimated 66% of the people in Lagos are slum dwellers.
The ancient city of Kano is the second largest in Nigeria, also in the Northern region. The state is highly inhabited by the Hausas and Fulanis, with a gross population of over 3.5 million residents.
Kano is known as the commercial hub of the North. It has a bustling industrial sector such as Textiles, Food processing, etc. The city is also an agricultural Centre for products such as peanuts, wheat, cotton, millet, rice, and maize.
The Hausa language is widely spoken in the region while the official business language is English. Its metropolitan area covers a vast land of 499 SQ km.
One important feature of the city, like other areas in the state and north, is its tropical savanna climate. Kano is usually hot throughout the year but a bit cooler from December to February. Aside from the rains that fall from June through September, Kano is usually dry.
The OYO state capital has a population of over Three million people. It was founded in the 18th Century by the Yoruba community, who are still predominant in the city to this day. Ibadan is located in south-western Nigeria in the southeastern part of Oyo state at about 119 kilometers (74 miles) northeast of Lagos and 120 kilometers (75 miles) east of the Nigerian international border with the Republic of Benin.
A bit of history; During the British rule, Ibadan was known for its commercial and trade activities that flourished during that period. Major industries such as Cigarette Manufacturing, Food Processing, Cacao and Cotton are the major agricultural products produced in the city.
Ibadan is also a major Educational Centre and it is home to Nigeria’s first university, named the University of Ibadan. Before and after Nigeria’s independence in 1960, Ibadan was the largest and most populous city in Nigeria. Then, it was regarded as the second most populous in Africa after Cairo, Egypt.
Fun fact: The state is known for its affordable housing unlike Lagos
In the last few years there has been an increase in the population and rate migration in this city but not like Lagos. So you experience less traffic congestion and definitely a calmer environment.
Welcome to the country’s capital, Abuja. With an unconfirmed population of about 3 million people. The Administrative city houses, International Embassies, Government Ministries and Parastatals including the Aso Villa.
This city is experiencing an annual growth of at least 35%, still retaining its position as the fastest-growing city on the African continent and one of the fastest-growing in the world. It is visible to all as the city is witnessing a huge influx of people into the city.
Abuja aside from being the capital and seat of power in Nigeria, it is home to some of the finest and luxurious real estate properties.
Port Harcourt City
Founded in 1912 by Frederick Lugard. The city boasts of housing over 1.5 million people. The main industry in this city is petroleum. Crude oil was first discovered in Oloibiri in 1956. Through the benefits of the Nigerian petroleum industry, Port Harcourt was further developed with aspects of modernization such as overpasses, city blocks and substantial buildings.
You can find a number of oil firms in the city like Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron etc.
Fun Fact: Port Harcourt is quite expensive when compared to other cities.
There are a number of institutions of tertiary education in Port Harcourt, mostly government-owned. These institutions include Rivers State University of Science and Technology, University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State College of Arts and Science, Rivers State College of Health Science and Technology. Port Harcourt’s primary airport is Port Harcourt International Airport, located on the outskirts of the city.
Benin happened to be one of the oldest cities and earliest kingdoms in the country. Today, Benin city is the capital of Edo state, known for its rich culture and history.
The city with over 1.3 million populations is in the sixth position on the list of largest cities in Nigeria. According to history, the city is one of the rich cities due to the early trade activities of the 16th and 17th century. The people of Benin are among those who had the first contact with Europeans back then. During this time, there were lots of trade activities between both parties.
It was to this effect that it continues to grow and became one of the famous empires in the country.
As parts of the things traded then, Benin is home to many artworks especially bronze casting and other metal works. Though some might today be several shores away, its Arts, and history are still reasons it is a tourist attraction.
Some of the tourist attractions include the Palace of the Oba of Benin, National Museum and the King’s square.
With a population of about 1.2 million people, it is definitely one of the largest cities in Nigeria. This north-eastern city is referred to as Yerwa by its locals, a derivative of the Kanuri word “Herwa”. Yerwa means a “promising or blessed land”.
There are a number of ethnic groups like the Kanuri, Shuwa, Bura, Marghi, Hausa, and Fulani among others. Hausa is, however, the most spoken language in Maiduguri. Though it is concentrated with a high number of Muslims, there are also quite a number of Christians too.
Zaria is our next stop, this city is one of the largest in terms of population in Kaduna state, Nigeria. Before now, the city was called Zazzau, it was one of the seven “Hausa city-state” of old. Zazzau is said to be dated as far back as 1513 but later renamed after Queen (Amina) Zaria.
Zaria has an estimate of about 1 million inhabitants. Like most other northern states, the major language here is Hausa. The people of Zaria are mostly into agriculture. They are one of the major producers of groundnut, tobacco, and cotton.
Finally, we are in the east! Aba is one of the major cities in Abia state. It is arguably the area of the state with the most commercial activities. It is not just a business hub to the inhabitants alone; it is widely so for both the south-east and south-south.
It is not unusual, even in Lagos, to hear phrases like “Made in Aba”. This is to show the extent of their commercial prowess. With a population of about 900,000 people, it is definitely one of the largest cities in Nigeria. The city has a considerable amount of different tribes from all over Nigeria but it is dominated by the Igbos.
Jos is another city in Nigeria in the Middle belt region and the capital of Plateau state. Last on our list, of largest cities in Nigeria by population. Jos’ population is estimated at over 800,000 people.
Famous as one of Nigeria’s mining areas. There’s an abundance of tin and columbite here. J-Town is popularly known for sales of fresh fruits, and its extreme weather conditions are largely discussed even from those yet to visit.
If you have followed the article without skipping, you definitely must have learned a thing or two about the cities. So, when next you come across an argument about the largest cities in Nigeria, you can refer them here. Kindly share your opinion on any of the cities with fellow PropertyPro.ng readers.