You might wonder just how big Nigeria, the much touted ‘Giant of Africa’ truly is. Not just in terms of land size but in population and resources. Indeed, which states have the largest land sizes? Please join us on a brief tour of the largest black nation on Earth, Nigeria, and its 10 largest states.
Nigeria: Geographical facts
Nigeria is located in West Africa, between longitudes 3 to 14 degrees and latitudes 4 to 14 degrees.
The nation shares borders with Niger and Chad republics to the north, Cameron to the east, and Benin Republic to the west. The south-west and south-south borders are on the fringes of the Atlantic Ocean.
The two major rivers, Niger and Benue meet and form a confluence in Lokoja, in the shape of a Y. Niger originates from the north-west while Benue originates from the north-east. Both rivers empty themselves into a vast delta of many waterways that flow directly into the Atlantic ocean. There are several other inland rivers that connect to this central network.
At 923,768 square kilometers wide, Nigeria is twice the land size of the UK. The country’s estimated population is over 225 million people (as at 2022). Its vegetation from the extreme North to the extreme South changes gradually. From northern belts of arid lands to Savannahs, to dense rain forests, it finally ends in mangrove swamps Southward.
Conspicuously located around the Equator, Nigeria has a tropical climate. The climate is a combination of two seasons: dry and wet seasons.
The dry season lasts from November till March. It commences with some one to three months of dry harmattan winds that could last till February. The impact of the dry season is strongest in the extreme North.
While the wet season (April to October) is the period of heavy rainfall, more intense towards the South.
Nigeria: Natural Resources
Nigeria is richly blessed in crude oil and gas, with vast amounts of solid minerals distributed across all its 36 states. It is on record that these resources remain largely under-exploited.
Much of the nation’s crude oil (the most exploited natural resource) are mined and exported to foreign refineries. Only for the refined products to be re-sold to the local consumers at much higher prices. A comparatively lower percentage of its natural gas reserves are being harvested for domestic and international consumers. Reports indicate that Nigeria’s natural gas reserves add up to almost thrice the amount of crude oil.
Majority of its abundant precious stones and metals remain largely untapped. Some of the well-known solid minerals found in Nigeria include coal, gold, limestone, clay, glass-sand, salt, marble, iron ore, zinc, lead, gypsum, bitumen, amethyst, sapphire, and quartz amongst others.
Nigeria: Ethnicity & Language
Being a former colony of Britain, English remains the official language spoken in Nigeria. Nigeria is home to at least 371 ethnic groups with distinct languages. The largest of them being Hausa-Fulani, Igbo, and Yoruba tribes. The multicultural nature of this heavily-populated black nation has fuelled many conflicts bordering on equity and inclusion over the years.
Nigeria: History and Origins
The earliest human civilisations found in Nigeria date back to somewhere around 13,000 B.C. Several well-known ancient societies have migrated from elsewhere or risen, and settled in the area. These include Benin kingdom, empire of Oyo, Nok culture, Songhai empire, kingdom of Nri, and the Hausa people.
Trade routes opened up within the region in ancient times, enabling some of these tribes to meet and interact. Islam came into the core North through the Songhai people of Borno and the Hausa states around the 11th century. And in the 15th century, Portuguese monks came through the South and brought Christianity.
Nigeria: The Beginning of Slave Trade
Not surprisingly, there were also inter-tribal wars. These contributed heavily to the slave trade and eventual exploitation of the region, from ancient times till now. The early Igbos and Oyo empire; the clash of Ijebu and Oyo; Ẹgba and Ijebu wars; Benin conquest of Owo; Fulani conquest of the Hausa people; the Niger Delta clashes are just some of them.
Following the arrival of the Christian monks to southern Nigeria, white traders from their home countries came as well. Thus began the gruesome exchange of prisoners of war for liquor and other articles brought by the white traders. Especially captives taken during the Ijebu and Oyo wars, and Dahomey prisoners of Oyo.
The Benin empire and south-eastern tribes also lost some of their children to slavery – the fallout of insurgency by British forces. The British army arrived and took over the entire country, stage by stage.
Nigeria: From a Colony to a Federation
Nigeria remained a colony under British rule from around 1851 up to 1960 when it finally got its independence. The country faced a long period of military takeovers, a Civil War, and a turbulent transition to democracy. The democratic process is still ongoing as we speak. As Nigeria strives to overcome its multicultural, economic, infrastructural and governance problems, there is hope for a greater future.
The 10 Largest States in Nigeria
Our assessment of ‘largeness’ of a state is in two dimensions. Either a state is large by land size, or large by population. The largest states by land size are not necessarily the largest by population.
We have chosen to omit a compilation of top 10 states in Nigeria with the largest population. This is due to the constraint of obtaining latest population data on states in Nigeria as at December 2022.
However, current estimates obtained using the yearly growth rate indicate that Lagos State is the largest in terms of population. The estimated population of Lagos State as at 2022 is about 28 million – growing at about 1.1 million yearly, according to Wikipedia. Kano State arguably comes second; as at 2020 the state was estimated to be over 20 million. This we concluded in the absence of the 2022 data projection of Kano state growth rate.
By Land Area/Size: Top 10 Largest States in Nigeria
Here are the top 10 largest states in Nigeria based on their land area/ size:
- Niger State 76,363
- Borno State 70,898
- Taraba State 54,473
- Kaduna State 46,053
- Bauchi State 45,893
- Yobe State 45,502
- Zamfara State 39,762
- Adamawa State 36,917
- Kwara State 36,825
- Kebbi State 36,800
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