10 Most Populated States in Nigeria

There have been arguments over the most populated state in the country. Based on the last population census in 2006, Kano was adjudged to be the most populous city in the country with over 9 million residents.

However, the Lagos State Government refuted these claims as the officials of the state believe that Lagos is the most populated in the country.

In this post, we’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most populated states with reference to the 2006 census as well as another list based on the UN estimates.

1          Kano State        9,401,288

2          Lagos State      9,013,534

3          Kaduna State    6,066,562

4          Katsina State    5,792,578

5          Oyo State          5,591,589

6          Rivers State      5,185,400

7          Bauchi State     4,676,465

8          Jigawa State     4,348,649

9          Benue State      4,219,244

10        Anambra State  4,182,032

In 2016, the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics put the current population of the country at 193.3 million with Kano still leading the race as the most populated state.

However, reports from the United Nations (UN) give a slightly lower figure at 192.9 million people in Nigeria. This report indicates that Lagos is the state with the highest population.

Here’s our list of the 10 most populated states in the country based on these UN estimates.

  1. Lagos

Popularly called Eko in Yoruba, Lagos is the most populous urban centre in Nigeria and one of the most populous urban centres in Africa.

The origin of the name Lagos is Portuguese in origin and it means ‘lakes’

Lagos is a major financial centre and is said to have the highest GDP in Africa. One of the busiest ports in Africa is located in Lagos.

There are conflicting figures when it comes to the population of Lagos. The State government puts the population at 22 million although the UN estimates indicates that a little over 14 million people living in Lagos.

However, the census in 2006 pegs the population of the state at around 8 million.

  1. Kano state

Kano is the second most populous state in the country according to UN estimates. The state was created on the 27th of May 1967. Kano is known for food crops like millet, cowpeas, sorghum, maize, rice. The state is also a major producer of cotton, garlic, soybean, gum arabic, chili pepper, sesame as well as hides and skins.

Based on the NBS data, Kano is the most populous state in the country with a population of over 13 million people. A vast majority of this populace are Hausa people.

  1. Oyo state

According to the population census in 2006, there were over 6 million residents in the state. The capital of Oyo state is Ibadan. Currently, the UN estimated population of Oyo is over 15 million.

  1. Kaduna state

Kaduna is located in the North-western part of the country. The state had over 6 million people according to the population census in 2006. Current estimates put the figure at around 12 million.

Kaduna has 23 local government areas with over 60 ethnic groups in the whole state.

Kaduna is known for its many educational institutions. These include the likes of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Federal Polytechnic, Kaduna State University, Nigerian Defence Academy and the Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, Zaria

The state is the fourth largest state in Nigeria based on land area. The state has an estimated 46,053 km2.

  1. Rivers state

Rivers State is the most prominent oil producing state. The state was created on the 27th May, 1967 and the capital is Port Harcourt. Rivers has a total land area of 11,077km2.

Rivers is surrounded by Eastern states like Imo, Abia, Anambra, Akwa Ibom State, Bayelsa and Delta states.

There are several ethnic groups in the state. These include Abua, Andoni, Ekpeye, Engenni, Etche, lbani, lkwerre, Kalabari, Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni, Okrika and Ogoni.

Rivers state is divided in to 23 local government areas. Current estimates put the number of peopl living in Rivers state at around 10 million.

  1. Katsina state

Located in the North Western part of the country, Katsina is 6th most populous state in the country.

The origin of the state can be traced to Kaduna state from which it was carved out. The predominant ethnic group in this state is the Hausa people.

The state is primarily a Muslim state however churches like the Redeemed Christian Church of God and the Roman Catholic Church are quite popular in the area.

  1. Bauchi state

Bauchi state was created in 1976 after the break-up of the North-Eastern state. in 1996, Gombe state was carved out of this state.

According to recent estimates, there are over 9 million people living in Bauchi state although 2006 census puts the figure at 4,653,066.

Although, the people in Bauchi are predominantly Hausas, there are actually over 50 tribal groups in the state

In the past, Bauchi was one of the major sources of tourism and freedom in the Fulani Empire of Sokoto.

  1. Anambra

Anambra is a state that is known for its industrious spirit. Nnewi and Onitsha come to mind when we talk about the industry of the state. These areas have produced several billionaires and multimillionaires. These include the likes of Cosmas Maduka, Prince Arthur Eze, Emeka Offor, Innocent Chukwuma, Ifeanyi Uba and many more.

The state currently has a population of over 8 million people. The 2006 population census released estimates of 4, 055, 048 but it is believed that the population has since double.

Anambra state is made up of predominantly Igbo people with the minority group being the Igala people.

  1. Jigawa

Jigawa state is located in the North central part of Nigeria. The state was created from Kano state in 1991. According to the population census of 2006, about 4.3 million people live in Jigawa state. But recent estimates put the figure at 8.1 million people.

  1. Benue

Popularly called the Food basket of the Nation, Benue is the 10th most populated state in the country with a population of 4.2 million according to the 2006 population census although the current population is around 8 million people.