Top 10 Largest Cities in Nigeria by Population[2023]

 Nigeria is a  nation celebrated for her intricate cultural heritage, diverse populace, and mouth watering delicacies.With an estimated population of over 200 million inhabitants,  371 ethnic groups , over 525 native languages,  Nigeria is a  complex mosaic of ethnicity, languages, and customs. In this post we’ll  explore the Top 10 Largest Cities in Nigeria by population and the unique identities of each city. (not to be confused with largest states by landmass)

1. Lagos

It’s no surprise that Lagos is the the most populous city in Nigeria.The city is the country’s  number one commercial center and  industrial  hub. The city is also the home of entertainment in the country which attracts lots of visitors while many people would rather just relocate to Lagos due to business or job opportunities.

There are a large number of head quarters of private and public industries in Lagos. The city’s real estate is also among the most sought after in the country , with thousands of ongoing large scale real estate developments. With a staggering populace exceeding 8 million, Lagos city has transformed into an ever-expanding urban center.

2. Kano

Kano is a city in  northern Nigeria. As the capital of Kano State, this city serves as a testament to Nigeria’s historical roots. It is the second largest city in Nigeria after Lagos  with over four million inhabitants.The city has been  known as  a trade and human  settlement for centuries and this is reflected in its deep-rooted traditions, crafts and architectural buildings which attracts visitors seeking a glimpse into Nigeria’s past.

3. Ibadan

Ibadan is the largest city in Oyo state and Nigeria’s third-largest city with an estimated  population of 3.87 million people. The ancient city built on seven hills was founded in 1750 and  is renowned as being the city of “firsts” , hence the motto of the state “pacesetter”. The first television station in Africa , Western Nigerian Television (now NTA) was established in Ibadan in 1959. The first university in Nigeria, University college Ibadan (now University of Ibadan) was established in 1948, The first teaching hospital, the renowned University college hospital Ibadan was established in 1952, the first skyscraper in Nigeria, Cocoa house, Ibadan was commissioned in July 1965 and was the tallest building in Nigeria until 1979.

Presently, Ibadan is home to many private and public institutions, research centers , Industries, Agricultural firms and tech companies. Ibadan maintains an open door policy to everyone  within the country which makes it a choice real estate and business destination.

4. Abuja

Abuja, Nigeria’s capital and the fourth largest city in terms of population, is strategically located within the Federal Capital Territory. Designed in the 1980s,  Abuja has been serving as Nigeria’s capital since 1991.  

Despite the usual Abuja Vs Lagos debate, the city has rapidly transformed into a bustling metropolis with many young Nigerians relocating to the city. The United Nations reported a staggering 139.7% population increase between 2000 and 2010, securing its position as the world’s fastest-growing city during that period.

The city currently has an estimated total of 3.84 million inhabitants and continues to maintain an impressive annual growth rate of around 6%, earning its place as one of Africa’s and the world’s most rapidly expanding urban centers.Abuja is home to Aso rock (presidential villa), the National Assembly, the Supreme Court and many governmental organizations.  Abuja also serves as the nucleus for many private business ventures.

5. Port Harcourt

The oil rich city of  Port Harcourt is the capital of Rivers state and the fifth largest city in Nigeria.Port Harcourt was formed in 1912 and has grown into Nigeria’s leading industrial center.The city has an estimated total of 3.4 million residents.

Today, Port Harcourt boasts one of Nigeria’s largest ports, handling the exportation of palm oil, coal, tin, and petroleum, showcasing its pivotal role in the nation’s economy. The Trans-Amadi Industrial Estate located in the city, is a major manufacturing site, producing items like tires, aluminum products, and glass bottles.With its rich economic standing, it’s not surprise that thousands are trooping into the city daily.

6. Benin City

Benin city is the capital and largest city in Edo state. It is the sixth largest city in Nigeria with an estimated population of 1.9 million people as of 2023. Benin is one of the oldest cities in Nigeria which dates back to pre-colonial period.

The city is well-known for its rubber industry, oil production, industrial and commercial activities. The city is also renowned for its bronze works which were looted by the British during colonization. Notable attractions in the city include Benin city national museum, Oba of Benin Royal Palace, Ogba zoo and many more.

7. Onitsha

Onitsha is a city on the eastern bank of the  Niger River in Anambra State. The city is known for its busy river port and as a place where business, industry, and education thrive. The city has a massive market called Onitsha Main Market, which is the largest market in Africa in terms of its size and the amount of things sold there. It was started by people from Benin in the 17th century, and it became an important center for trade and politics in the Igbo kingdom of Onitsha. Onitsha current has a population of 1.6 million residents

8. Uyo

Uyo is the capital of Akwa Ibom state and it became the capital in 1987 when the state was created. The city has an estimated number of 1.3 million residents.

Uyo is a fast growing city, as the city has shown great infrastructural growth within the past decade. It has an intensive network of highways, industrial estates,  tertiary institutions like University of Uyo, National Open University of Nigeria and Uyo City Polytechnic. Uyo also has a fast growing tourism and real estate industry with many notable housing districts such as Ewet Housing Estate, Shelter Afrique among others.

9. Nnewi

Nnewi is a commercial and industrial city in Anambra State. It is the second largest  after Onitsha. Nnewi is divided into Nnewi North and Nnewi South local government area. The first indigenous car manufacturing plant in Nigeria is located here and also the first wholly Made-in-Nigeria motorcycle, the ‘NASENI M1’ was manufactured in the city. 

With an estimated total population of 1.2 million inhabitants, Nnewi hosts financial institutions, industries and factories. Palm oil, cosmetics, motor, and motorcycle spare parts, books, and stationery, textiles, electric cables are produced in commercial quantity in this city.

10. Aba

Aba, located in Nigeria’s southeast, stands as a vital commercial center in Abia State. Following the state’s creation in 1991, Aba was divided into Aba South and Aba North and currently has an estimated population of 1.1 million.The city’s roots trace back to its establishment by the Igbo people as a market town, with the British setting up a military post in 1901.

The city became a collecting point for agricultural produce following the British made railway running through it to Port Harcourt.

Aba is well known for Textiles and Palm Oil along with pharmaceuticals, plastics, cement, and cosmetics. Aba’s Ariaria International Market ranks as Nigeria’s second-largest market. The city also hosts a brewery, glass company, and crafts industries.

Data source: Lagos, Nigeria Metro Area Population 1950-2023. Retrieved 2023-08-12.

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