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Largest Cities in Nigeria (2020)

Largest Cities in Nigeria (2020)

Photo: ariyo olasunkanmi /

Want to know more about the largest cities in Nigeria? Here’s an updated list by size and population in 2020.

The Federal Republic of Nigeria is a country located in West Africa. It is the seventh-most populous country in the world with a total population count of 200,962,417. It is ranked 32nd in terms of total area occupying 356,669 square miles.

The country comprises of a total of 36 states and one federal capital territory which houses the capital city Abuja. Nigeria is also one of the richest countries in Africa and ranks as the 20th largest economy in the world.

It is an emerging market that is considered a significant and influential regional power. Nigeria is also home to one of the most populated cities in the world


Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria and is located in the southwestern region of the country. Often mistaken as the capital of Nigeria instead of Abuja, it is the most populous city in the country and also South of the Sahara in Africa with a total population count of 9 million.

One of Africa’s largest and busiest port cities, it is also one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. Spanning a total area of 452.23 square miles, Lagos is a major financial center in Africa and has the fourth-highest GDP in Africa.

Lagos has the tallest and most recognizable skyline in Nigeria and is also home to several churches and mosques. Lagos alone generates nearly 10% of the country’s GDP.

Most commercial businesses are located in the central business district and contribute to the unique 24-hour-economy. Lagos is home to the Nigerian movie industry that is informally called Nollywood. It is also home to a vibrant music and performing arts scene where the National Arts Theatre is the most prominent venue.


Photo: Shutterstock


Kano is the state capital of Kano State in northwestern Nigeria. Kano is the commercial hub of northern Nigeria and is the second-largest city in Nigeria. The Kano metropolis covers an area of 193 square miles and is second-most populous in the country with a total population of 3,626,068.

Kano’s economy relies on trade, retail, and services. Kano is a major exporter of textile materials, leather and grains to North Africa and also a major center for the production and export of agricultural products like peanuts and cotton. There are plans to establish an IT park in the city soon.


Ibadan is the capital of Oyo State in southwestern Nigeria. With a population of 3,565,108, it is the most populous city of the state and the third-most populous in the country.

It is the country’s largest city by geographical area covering 2,600 square miles. At the time of Nigeria’s independence in 1960, Ibadan was the largest and most populous city in the country but has since been taken over by Lagos and then Kano.

Ibadan is home to several bars, lounges, and night clubs. It also has several hotels ranging in class, styles, and budget. The Ibadan Recreational Club was established in 1902 and is one of the oldest clubs in the country.


Kaduna is the capital of Kaduna State located on the Kaduna River in northwestern Nigeria. It is a major transportation hub for the surrounding agricultural areas. The population of Kaduna is 1,582,102 which makes it the fourth-most populous city in Nigeria.

The city spans a total area of 51 square miles. Kaduna’s name derives from the Hausa word meaning crocodiles. Founded by the British colonists in 1900, Kaduna was the capital of Nigeria’s former Northern Region for 50 years from 1917 to 1967.

Kaduna is home to several universities including the Kaduna State University, the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), the Greenfield University Kaduna, and the National Open University of Nigeria.

Port Harcourt

Port Harcourt is the capital of Rivers State in southern Nigeria. It is located along the Bonny River in the Niger Delta. It is the largest city of the state covering an area of 142 square miles. It is also the fifth-most populous city of Nigeria with a total population count of 1,148,665

Port Harcourt is home to several public universities including the Rivers State University, the University of Port Harcourt, and the Rivers State College of Health Science and Technology. Port-Harcourt is also the home of the Bole festival.


Benin is the capital of Edo State in southern Nigeria. It is the largest city of the state and the sixth-most populous city in the country with a total population of 1,125,058 and a total area of 465 square miles. The indigenous people of the Edo state are Edo people who speak the Edo language.

The majority of people from Benin are known as either Edo or Bini. The people of the city have one of the richest dress cultures on the African continent and are known for their beads, body marks, bangles, anklets, and raffia work.

Benin is the main hub of Nigeria’s rubber industry. Oil production is another major industry in the city. The city is home to the University of Benin, the Ambrose Alli University, the Benson Idahosa University, and the Wellspring University.

The main cultural attractions in the city are the National Museum, the Oba Palace, and Igun Street, a famous bronze casting and metal-works market.


Maiduguri is the capital of Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria. It is the largest city in the state and the seventh-most populous city in the country with a total population of 1,112,449.

The region was home to the Kanem-Bornu Empire for centuries. Maiduguri is the main trading hub for north-eastern Nigeria with an economy based on trading, services, and manufacturing. The city is home to Kyarimi Park, the oldest and largest zoo in Nigeria, that attracts thousands of visitors per year.


Zaria is a city in Kaduna State in northern Nigeria. It was one of the original seven Hausa city-states. It is the eighth-most populous city of Nigeria with a total population count of 975,153.

It is well-known for being home to Nigeria’s largest university, Ahmadu Bello University, which is also the second-largest university in Africa. Zaria’s economy is primarily based on agriculture with guinea corn, millet, cotton, groundnuts, and tobacco being the main crops.

The city is also a market town for the adjoining areas. The Nigerian College of Aviation Technology and the National Research Institute for Chemical Technology are two leading institutions situated in Zaria.

Most Populated Cities in Nigeria

Here’s a list of the largest cities in Nigeria, ranked by population. 

1 Lagos 9,000,000
2 Kano 3,626,068
3 Ibadan 3,565,108
4 Kaduna 1,582,102
5 Port Harcourt 1,148,665
6 Benin City 1,125,058
7 Maiduguri 1,112,449
8 Zaria 975,153
9 Aba 897,560
10 Jos 816,824
11 Ilorin 814,192
12 Oyo 736,072
13 Enugu 688,862
14 Abeokuta 593,100
15 Abuja 590,400
16 Sokoto 563,861
17 Onitsha 561,066
18 Warri 536,023
19 Ebute Ikorodu 535,619
20 Okene 479,178

How many of the largest cities in Nigeria did you know about? Leave a comment below!

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