Nigeria Major Cities 

Nigeria is one of the major African countries. It is home to Ibadan the largest city in West Africa and the second-largest in Africa. Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria is the 5th largest economy in Africa. Cities such as Zaria and Sokoto have rich historical significance.

The City of Lagos 

Lagos formerly served as the nation’s capital before that honour fell on Abuja. It is located in the South-West geopolitical zone of Nigeria. Lagos is arguably Nigeria’s most popular city and is an economic power hub in Africa.

The population of Lagos is the largest of any Nigerian state and is fast growing into a megacity. It is estimated that over 20 million Nigerians call Lagos home. Ironically, Lagos is the smallest Nigerian state in terms of landmass. Lagos is a cultural melting pot as you will find all tribes represented in the state. 

Kano city

Kano is an ancient city with a rich history. It is the capital of the Kano Emirate. It is the largest city in Northern Nigeria and boasts of a population that is only dwarfed by that of Lagos. The city is in the North-West geopolitical zone and is dominated by the Hausa/Fulani ethnic group. The city is predominantly populated by Muslims.

Over 3.5 million residents live in Kano city and the major language of communication is Hausa. The city is also of huge economic importance as it is a major industrial city. Textiles, food processing, plastics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, cement, soap, metal works, and furniture industries all thrive in this buzzing city. Agriculture also thrives in Kano as agricultural products such as peanuts, wheat, cotton, millet, rice, and maize are grown there. 

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Ibadan is the capital of Oyo State in South Western Nigeria. Ibadan is famous as the largest city in West Africa and is the second-largest in Africa, beaten only by the city of Cairo in Egypt. Ibadan was founded in the 18th century by the Yoruba people who still dominate the city. Over 3 million people live in Ibadan currently.

The city is close to Lagos and has a border with the neighbouring Benin Republic. The city is populated by Muslims with a minority being Christians. Ibadan has a history of commercial and trade activities and this continues till date. The city is home to the first university in Nigeria known as the University of Ibadan.


The current capital of Nigeria, Abuja is such a beauty to behold due to meticulous city planning and stunning architectural masterpieces that adorn the city. As the seat of the Nigerian government, there is a lot of government activities going on in the city and this has attracted millions to the city in search of greener pastures. The annual growth rate of Abuja is put at about 35%, which makes it the fastest-growing city in Africa. 

Port Harcourt

The South-South city of Port Harcourt is one of the major Nigerian cities. It was founded in the year 1912 by Frederick Lugard and is today the capital city of oil-rich Rivers state. Over 1.5 million people live in the city. The main driving force of the is crude oil. You will find several local and international oil companies operating in the city, the likes of Royal Dutch Shell, Chevron and Seplat. 

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Benin City

Benin city has a rich history that goes way back in time before the arrival of the colonial masters. The Walls of Benin remain one of the intriguing architectural masterpieces of all times.

Benin city is today the capital of Edo state which is one of the oil-producing states of Nigeria. The city is famous for its rich culture as well as history. The city is home to many artworks especially those made with bronze. It is estimated that over 1.3 million people live in the city. Benin city is one of the largest rubber producing cities in Nigeria.


Maiduguri is located in the far North-Eastern part of Nigeria. Although now a war zone due to the rise of insurgency in the area, Maiduguri remains one of the major cities in Nigeria. The population of the city is put at about 1.2 million people. It is mostly populated by Muslims although there is a significant Christian population too. Several ethnic groups such as Kanuri, Shuwa, Bura, Marghi, Hausa, Fulani among others are well represented in the city. Hausa language is the most widely spoken language in the city. 


Zaria is an ancient city that dates as far back as 1513. It is one of the seven Hausa city-state” of old. The city was formerly known as Zazzau but was later renamed after its late famous Queen, (Amina) Zaria. Zaria is today located in Kaduna state and is one to one of the top Universities in the country, Ahmadu Bello University.

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About a million people reside in Zaria and the official language of communication is Hausa. Agriculture thrives in Zaria and the city is ranked as a major producer of groundnut, tobacco, and cotton in the country. 


Aba is famously known as small China due to the level of industrialization that goes on in the city. The famous Ariara market in Aba is one of the largest markets in Nigeria and the level of industrialization that goes on in the market is mind-blowing. Commercial activities thrive in the city which is why it holds an attraction for a lot of people.

The dominant tribe in Aba is Igbo but other Nigerian tribes are well represented as well. Christianity is the major religion practised in Aba. The population of the city is out at about 1 million.


Jos is a major Nigerian city that has a rich colonial history. The city was highly favoured by the colonialists due to its weather which compares with that of European cities. Jos is located in what is termed Middle Belt of Nigeria and is the capital of Plateau state. The population of Jos is about 800,000. The city is also famous for mining as there is an abundance of Tantalite and columbite in the city. 

Other Nigerian cities worthy of mention are:

  • Sokoto
  • Uyo
  • Calabar
  • Badagry
  • Kaduna
  • Abeokuta 
  • Akure
  • Minna
  • Owerri
  • Akwa
  • Umuahia


Nigeria is blessed with a lot of historic cities with rich culture and traditions. In this article, we have examined some of the major Nigerian cities that shelter a significant proportion of the 200 million population of Nigeria. 

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