Nigeria is a beautiful and most accommodating country in Africa. The largest cities in Nigeria comes with a lot of beautiful attraction that anyone can visit to have fun. For example, some of the largest cities have beaches, zoos, mountains, etc.
Nigeria is a federal republic located in West Africa consisting of 36 states and a Federal Capital Territory. The federation comprises 36 States, where the presidentially appointed governors wield executive power in their states. The 774 Local Government Areas (LGAs), which can be further subdivided into 9 Emirs and 131 Communities, produce National legislation reminiscent of the United Kingdom’s Parliament.
This post will only cover the largest cities in Nigeria by population, infrastructure, beauty attraction, and ease of accessibility. I have created a list of the 15 largest cities in Nigeria. It’s okay if our list mentions two cities in one state because this list is not about states.
13 Largest Cities In Nigeria In 2022
Below are the top thirteen largest cities in Nigeria. These cities are listed by population or ranking, starting with the largest.
1. Lagos City
Lagos is currently the largest city in Nigeria and the second-largest in Africa, with a population of more than 21 million people. The city comprises independent local government areas created by state legislation as a political and administrative centre for the whole metropolitan area.
The city of Lagos is the capital, the largest city and the main port of the country. It has a deep seaport that serves as a natural harbour for ocean-going vessels, especially at the Apapa Port and the Port of Tin Can Island.
The city is surrounded by Lagos Lagoon to its southwest, while Lekki and its satellite town form its northeast border. Lagos city is subdivided into several local government areas (LGAs), including Ikorodu, Eti-Osa, Oshodi-Isolo, Alimosho, Osholu-Yaba, Ojo, Victoria Island etc.
It has a lot of tourist attractions and beautiful infrastructures ranging from beautiful schools, hospitals and most especially, hotels. With its water surrounding nature, it has a lot of beaches for hangout spots. It’s also a home of international visitors.
2. Kano City
Kano is the second largest city in Nigeria with a population of about 10 million people. It is the commercial capital of North-Central Nigeria, as well as the largest manufacturing centre. The economy of the city is based mainly on textile manufacturing, groundnut processing, cotton production, metal works and salt production.
Located in a savannah region, the city is the headquarters of the Kano Emirate, a traditional state with some emirist political powers. Nigeria’s second-largest city is without a doubt, Kano and it’s the major economic centre of northern Nigeria and has an estimated population of over 10 million.
It is the commercial and industrial centre for a large agricultural and cattle-rearing area. Kano also has beautiful attractive and recreational parks and museums where you can hang out. Beautiful hotels etc. It’s also the fastest-growing state in Nigeria both economically and otherwise.
3. Ibadan City
Ibadan is the third largest city in Nigeria with a population of about 2 million people, located in Oyo State southwestern Nigeria, inland from Lagos by about 100 miles (160 km). Ibadan was originally established as an inland satellite town for Lagos in 1902 after its conquest by the British colonialist authorities, but now it is an important centre in its own right. The surrounding area produces oil too.
The city of Ibadan was originally known as “Eba Odan”, in Yoruba meaning “by the edge of the meadow”. The modern city traces its origins to 1829 when a group of British settlers established a mission station there under their colonial charter granted by Britain’s King George IV.
The indigenous people called it Eko (“home”) and attacked the mission settlement on April 12, 1851, killing more than 30 people including Revd Joseph A. Hinds, who was a missionary of African/European descent from Sierra Leone. In September 1852 the missionary Edward Towgood opened a church and school at Eko and so began Ibadan’s development as an urban settlement.
4. Port Harcourt City
The 4th most populous city in Nigeria is Port Harcourt City. Haven’t heard of it? You’re not alone. Port Harcourt is the capital of Rivers State in Nigeria, located on the Bonny River. It’s been a major centre for oil production since the 1950s.
The city’s population has boomed from less than 300,000 in 1991 to more than 2 million today, according to census estimates. With a gross domestic product per capita higher than that of the United States, Port Harcourt is also one of the wealthiest cities in Africa.
The city was named after Lord Harcourt, who was a former governor of the colony.
The city is one of the most important ports in the country and has a major international airport that connects it to other major cities all over the world. The city also hosts many multinational firms due to its strategic location in West Africa.
The beauty of Port Harcourt is also worth mentioning, as it is surrounded by rivers, waterfalls and mountains which makes it a unique destination for both local and international tourists.
The area around Port Harcourt is rich with natural resources like oil, gas, rubber and timber. This makes it one of the most industrialized areas in Nigeria. There are also plantations for palm oil, cocoa and rubber trees, plus rice farms along the riverbanks where you can often see women washing clothes by hand.
5. Kaduna City
Kaduna is a metropolitan area in the Nigerian state of Kaduna. Kaduna city has a population of over 1.5 million people, making it is the 5th largest cities in Nigeria on our list. It is inhabited by several ethnic groups with Hausa as the main language of communication and lingua franca.
Kaduna city is located in the northwest region of Nigeria, at the foothills of the Jos Plateau, with an elevation of about 800 feet above sea level. The city’s main industries are food processing, brewing, leatherworking and textiles. Kadunians are predominantly Muslim.
The city is dominated by the Hausa and Fulani ethnicities, but it also has several other inhabitants including Igbos and Yorubas.
The city is well connected with the other parts of the country by road and airways. Kaduna International Airport serves flights to Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt and other major Nigerian cities including international flights to Istanbul in Turkey and other countries. There are also transportation facilities that link Kaduna to neighbouring countries like the Niger Republic and Cameroon via land ways.
6. Abuja City
Abuja is the capital city of Nigeria and is also one of the largest cities in Nigeria. It is located in the centre of the country, growing from a small settlement to a bustling metropolitan area. It is home to national government institutions as well as those of both the Federal and States governments.
Abuja’s economy has grown rapidly and it has also become a major financial hub for Africa and the rest of the world. The official languages are English and Hausa, although French is also spoken by many inhabitants.
The city has an estimated population of around 2 million residents as of 2011, which ranks as the 65th largest city in West Africa as well as being one of the fastest-growing cities in Nigeria. It is the federal capital territory where the Aso villa is located.
7. Benin City
Benin City is a city in Edo State in southern Nigeria. It was formerly the capital of the Benin Empire, which covered a large area of West Africa as well as some parts of what is now Togo. Its people speak Edo, one of the Niger-Congo languages.
The vast majority of the citizens are native speakers of the Edo language but there are also other major language groups such as Igala, Egun, Fon and Yoruba that have a substantial presence in the city.
Although generally referred to as a single entity by its inhabitants and those outside of it, it is more than an administrative unit; rather it has been accepted as a political domain with its own cultural identity, tradition and history.
Benin City is obviously the 7th largest city in Nigeria by our list here and has unique identities that are easy to identify across the nation. The city is located in the southwestern region of the country and is the capital of Edo State.
8. City Of Jos
Ah, the City of Jos. As you know, Jos is the capital of Plateau State. It stands on the Plateau, which is one of Nigeria’s three geo-political zones; the other two are the coastal area (South-West) and the northern area (North).
The city is also known as “Jos” or “Jos Town”. It has a population of about 800,000 people. Jos is considered to be one of the most diverse cities in Nigeria due to its location in the middle of Nigeria’s three major ethnic groups – Hausa/Fulani, Igbo and Yoruba. The city also has a significant Christian population which constitutes about 70% of its population (by our estimates).
The City Of Jos is situated in a land characterized by hills and valleys making its location strategic for trade to pass through. Hence, there are lots of transportation means that have aided in making Jos a cosmopolitan city with access to the sea at Baro Port.
9. Ilorin City
Ilorin is the headquarters of both the Ilorin local government area and Kwara State. The city is located on the south-western corner of Nigeria, about 150 kilometres (93 mi) west of Lagos, along the main southern border with Benin. The area has a population of 777,667 according to the 2006 Nigerian census.
As of 2020, Ilorin city has about 1 million population and is still growing. The city is home to the University of Ilorin, which is one of the best universities in Nigeria by rankings and achievements.
10. Enugu City
Enugu City is the capital of Enugu State in Nigeria. The city is located in South-Eastern Nigeria and is the third-largest city in the country. It is popularly known as “The Garden City” due to its greenery and abundance of natural resources like coal, limestone, marble, asbestos, iron ore etc. Enugu has a population of approximately 1,865,000.
Nestled between Nkanu West and Nkanu East Local Government Areas in South-Eastern Nigeria, Enugu is a beautiful city with a rich history. It also has a lot of tourist attractions including the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium which hosted matches during the FIFA under 17 World Cup in 2006 and was named after the first President of Nigeria who hailed from Enugu State.
11. Calabar Municipal City
Calabar is the capital of the Cross River State of Nigeria. Calabar is the 11th largest city in Nigeria by our list. The population of Calabar is about 600,000. Calabar has a long history with the slave trade which started way back in the 1620s, making this city one of the oldest slave trade ports in the world.
It was once referred to as “The Gateway to the West Coast”. It serves as a port for various goods produced across the nation and also exports some of its produce.
Nigeria’s oil industry is centred on the Niger Delta, and Calabar is one of the main ports for exporting oil from that region. Many multinational oil companies have offices in Calabar.
Calabar City covers an area of about 14 square kilometres and lies on a peninsula between two arms of the Cross River. The city proper lies on a small low-lying island between these arms.
Although locals refer to the city as “Calabar,” it has been officially renamed “Calabar Municipal Council,” and is commonly referred to as “Calabar-Mainland,” in reference to its location on a peninsula separated from other parts of Cross River State by creeks and tidal waters.
Calabar has three seaports, Calabar Free Trade Zone, Tinapa Free Trade Area and Bonny Free Trade Area.
Calabar has the campus of the University of Calabar located 10 kilometres from the main city centre. It also has several state-owned tertiary institutions such as the College of Education Calabar, Federal Polytechnic Calabar and some private educational institutions such as Meridian International College, Chukwuma Education Center, etc.
12. Warri City
The city of Warri is the 12th largest city in Nigeria and the 91st largest in Africa. It is also the capital of Delta State and it has a population of about 557,398 people according to the 2006 census.
The city was established by British colonialists in 1919, along with many other towns in Nigeria, to help control trade in the area.
The city was named after the Warri River which flows through it. The river is an important source of food, water, transportation and employment for local residents. The city has experienced rapid growth over the past ten years due to an increase in oil production in Nigeria.
The main ethnic groups in Warri are Urhobos. Other ethnic groups include Isokos, Ijaws, Itsekiris, Ijebu, Ogonis, Edos and Igbos. The city’s population is predominantly Christians with a sizeable Muslim minority.
The economy of Warri is driven by crude oil production, export and refining by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Other industries include shipping, shipbuilding, engineering, construction, metals fabrication and assembly works amongst others.
13. Ife City
Ife City is the capital of Osun State in southwestern Nigeria. It is the home of Obafemi Awolowo University. The population of Ife City was estimated at 509,035 in 2006.
Ife City is located about 15 kilometres northeast of Ile-Ife, capital of Osun State. Its geographical coordinates are 7.4905° N, 4.5521° E.
Ifẹ̀ is the oldest city in Nigeria and the largest in terms of population among the ancient cities in Nigeria. It’s the foremost urban centre in South-Western Nigeria. The city has a large population, estimated at between 400,000 and 600,000 people. This large population gives it the highest number of inhabitants of any other city in the Osun State.
The largest city in Nigeria is Lagos city with a population of over 21 million people. There are several other cities in Nigeria with populations approaching 10 million, including Ibadan, Kano, Port Harcourt, Benin City, and Abuja.
Lagos is also the most populous city in Africa. The population of the country is estimated to be about 201 million people as of 2019. Nigeria has a large population growth rate of 3.36% per year.