Largest State in Nigeria – list of Nigerian States by population

Located on the western coast of the African continent, The Federal Republic of Nigeria boasts of over 200 million people – an estimated 200.96 million people as at 2019 – spread across its 36 states, making it the 7th most populous nation in the world.

Its large population accounts for it’s over 500 ethnic groups and languages. The country’s population has grown sporadically since it gained independence from the British in 1960.

As of the time of it’s independence, Nigeria had a population of around 45.2 million people within its borders. As of 2012, this figure had increased to around 160.2 million people according to the Nigeria Beareau of Statistics.

And, as at 2016, the United Nations projections placed the nation’s population at 186 million. That is, since independence until 2012, there was a 268% increase in the nation’s population. Nigeria’s population accounts for 2.35% of global population, i.e 1 out of every 43 people in the world are Nigerians.

The country also has the highest population in Africa, as well as a population density of 212.04 individual per square metre. Nigerian’s population remains a growing dilema for the country’s leadership, with the nation’s economy not exactly flourishing enough to take care of the growing masses. Several control measures have been taking by the Federal government to curb the country’s population growth, including free contraception being offered over the last ten years or so, as well as education and awareness on family planning measures.

The government has also tried to discourage those looking to start large families, as they are banking on smaller families as a way to stabilize the country’s population growth. Nations like Thailand, who have surmounted their population challenges, are the model for the federal government’s current strategy.

The current population projections for 2050 in the nation are 390 million residents. It is also worth noting that, part of Nigeria’s population challenges is the high mortality rate, not least due to the HIV/AIDS epidemic plaguing the nation’s populace.

HIV/AIDS remains a deadly threat on the African continent despite the efforts taken to control it, with Nigeria being one of the countries with the highest number of people living with the disease. There are currently 3.1 million people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

The threat of HIV/AIDS joins a number of health issues, like the polio virus and the high mother and child mortality rate, to threaten the nation’s population. One out of every five children born in Nigeria die before the age of five because of polio and other health risks in the nation. Also, a Nigerian mother’s chances of death during pregnancy/childbirth is 1 in 13.

The health challenges in the country can be tied down to obvious sanitary challenges, with only 68.5% of Nigerians having access to clean water, and only 39% of the entire population of the country having access to proper sanitation facilities.

Another cause of the obvious health challenges is the fact that very many Nigerians, especially those in the rural areas, do not have access to health facilities, and, even when they do, do not seek professional medical help. Because of these challenges, Nigeria has the lowest life expectancy in the whole of West Africa, with an average of 54.5 years according to WHO data – with men living for an average of 53.7 years, and women living for an average of 55.4 years.

Age wise, however, the country’s population is relatively young, with a median age of 18.4 years. Also, the country’s gender population count is almost evenly balanced, with an estimated 1.04 males to every 1 female in the country.

Ethnically, Nigeria has a diverse cultural population, although the Hausa-Fulani outnumber every other ethnic group in the country, accounting for about two-third of the country’s population, of which, out of the two-third, a large majority are Muslims.

There are also a plethora of languages spoken across the nation’s ethnic groups, with Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo being the most spoken by population, aside the nation’s colonial language – English.

The largest state in Nigeria by population

1 Kano State 9,401,288

2 Lagos State 9,113,605

3 Kaduna State 6,113,503

4 Katsina State 5,801,584

5 Oyo State 5,580,894

6 Rivers State 5,198,605

7 Bauchi State 4,653,066

8 Jigawa State 4,361,002

9 Benue State 4,253,641

10 Anambra State 4,177,828

11 Borno State 4,171,104

12 Delta State 4,112,445

13 Niger State 3,954,772

14 Imo State 3,927,563

15 Akwa Ibom State 3,178,950

16 Ogun State 3,751,140

17 Sokoto State 3,702,676

18 Ondo State 3,460,877

19 Osun State 3,416,959

20 Kogi State 3,314,043

21 Zamfara State 3,278,873

22 Enugu State 3,267,837

23 Kebbi State 3,256,541

24 Edo State 3,233,366

25 Plateau State 3,206,531

26 Adamawa State 3,178,950

27 Cross River State 2,892,988

28 Abia State 2,845,380

29 Ekiti State 2,398,957

30 Kwara State 2,365,353

31 Gombe State 2,365,040

32 Yobe State 2,321,339

33 Taraba State 2,294,800

34 Ebonyi State 2,176,947

35 Nasarawa State 1,869,377

36 Bayelsa State 1,704,515

Federal Capital Territory, Abuja 1,405,201


Nigeria’s large population accounts for its diverse ethnocultural, lingual, historical and religious heritage. The diverse ethnic and tribal groups in the country showcase the colourful heritage of its people.

However, the large population also has its disadvantages, especially economically. Nigeria’s struggling economy means that there are not enough resources to cater for its growing populace. As such, poverty is one of the nation’s biggest problems.

In the education sector as well, there are not enough facilities at all schooling levels to accommodate the country’s young population. Thus, there is a high number of out of school children in the country than in anywhere else in the world.

The country’s health challenges come into play as well. HIV/AIDS, Malaria, Polio, maternal and infant mortality all combine to threaten the nation’s populace. Measures have been taken to curb the nation’s population growth, as well as deal with these challenges, and some commendable progress has been made, but the numbers still show that there is much work to be done by the federal government, and, indeed, government at all levels. We hope this article has been helpful. Let us know.

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Adams Victor

Adams Victor is a Content Developer at InfoGuideNigeria.com. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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