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Top 10 Longest Rivers In Nigeria

longest rivers in nigeria

Rivers are very important natural income sources for all countries of the world and Nigeria being a country is not an exception to this. The importance of these rivers cannot be underestimated as they serve as a means of pure water, protection, transportation, and in most cases – Free energy generator.

These rivers in Nigeria are also major sources of tourist attraction in the country. Rivers are used to provide irrigation schemes for farmers which in turn increases the food supply to Nigerian citizens.

With all these functions mentioned above, it is no doubt that rivers play a great role in the economy of any country it passes through.

River Niger and River Benue are two major rivers in Nigeria. These rivers are also shared with other west African countries which include Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Benin.

Nigeria also has many other large rivers thereby making our list of the top 10 longest rivers in Nigeria.

Importance Of Rivers In Nigeria

Below are some of the uses/functions of the longest rivers in Nigeria as well as other rivers:

  • Domestic practices by people who live close to them
  • Increases soil fertility
  • Transportation (Water transportation in this case)
  • Irrigation purposes
  • Power/Electricity generation
  • Tourists attraction
  • Habitats for some animals

Longest Rivers In Nigeria (Summary)

S/NLongest Rivers In NigeriaStateLength (Miles)
1River NigerNiger Delta States2,597 Miles
2River BenueNorthern States870 Miles
3Kaduna RiverKaduna State342 Miles
4Gongola RiverNorth-Eastern States330 Miles
5Cross RiverCross-River State304 Miles
6Yobe RiverYobe State200 Miles
7Sokoto RiverSokoto State199 Miles
8Osun RiverOsun State166 Miles
9Zamfara RiverZamfara State155 Miles
10Anambra RiverAnambra State131 Miles

Top 10 Longest Rivers In Nigeria (Full Explanation)

1. River Niger

The River Niger is located in the South-Eastern parts and Niger delta areas in Nigeria. As the longest river in Nigeria and West Africa, It extends 2,597 miles and flows through four other countries in that part of Africa.

As a result of its land mass, this river has become an important transportation route in the regions/countries through which it flows.

River Niger is also the third-longest river in Africa, just after River Nile and the Congo River which came first and second respectively.

2. River Benue

The River Benue is the major competitor for River Nigeria in our list of the top 10 longest rivers in Nigeria. River Benue is approximately 870 miles long and it is in second place among the top 10 longest rivers in Nigeria just after the River Niger.

It is a tributary of River Niger. The River Benue is shared between Nigeria and Cameroon and serves as a major means of transportation between these two West-African countries.

3. Kaduna River

The Kaduna river is the third longest river in Nigeria. It is a tributary of the Niger River which flows for 550 kilometers through Nigeria.

It got its name “KADUNA RIVER” from the crocodiles that lived in the river and its surrounding area. KADUNA in the native dialect of people who lived around there (Hausa) was the word for “CROCODILES“.

River Kaduna starts in Plateau State(Nigeria) on the Jos Plateau and flows through Kaduna State in its capital Kaduna, and meets the River Niger in Niger State(Nigeria).

4. Gongola River

The Gongola River is a river is in located in the North-Eastern parts of Nigeria. It is a principal tributary of the River Benue and flows through a distance of approximately 330 miles through Nigeria.

The upper course of the River Gongola and most of its tributaries are seasonal streams, but they fill rapidly in August and September.

The Gongola river is one of the rivers in Nigeria which is used to generate energy from the pressure and speed in which the water flows.

It serves are home to some dams in Nigeria which includes the Dadin Kowa Dam in Gombe State(Nigeria) and the Kiri Dam which is located in Shelleng local government area of Adamawa State(Nigeria).

5. Cross River

Cross River is one of the longest rivers in Nigeria which is located in the South-Eastern parts of Nigeria. This river also gives its name to the popular Cross River State in Nigeria.

It starts at Cameroon from the Manyu River with an approximate distance(length) of 304 miles through popular cities in Nigeria which includes Oron, Calabar, and some areas in the Niger-Delta region in Nigeria.

7. Sokoto River

The Sokoto River which was formerly known as Gublin Kebbi is a river which is located in the North-Western parts of  Nigeria. It is also a tributary of the River Niger.

With a distance/length of approximately 199 miles, the Sokoto River starts from Funtua in Katsina State and flows through some other popular cities in North-Wersten Nigeria which include Gusau (Zamfara State), Sokoto (Sokoto State), and Birnin Kebbi.

This river is also of major economic importance to Nigeria as it serves as the host for the Gusau Dam in Zamfara State. This dam forms a reservoir that supplies the city and its inhabitance with water for domestic and farming works.

The Gusau dam is also used to generate electricity.

8. Osun River

The Osun River is the most popular river in Yorubaland. It is located in the South-Western parts of Nigeria and flows southwards through most South-Western states into the Lagos Lagoon and the Atlantic Gulf of Guinea.

With an approximate distance of 166 miles, the River Osun is the longest river in South-Western Nigeria and the 8th longest river in Nigeria.

It is one of the several rivers in Yorubaland that was said to have been women who turned into flowing waters after some traumatic event frightened or angered them.

9. Zamfara River

The Zamfara River is one of the longest rivers in Nigeria and is located in the North-Western parts of Nigeria. It has its origins in Zamfara State.

With an approximate distance of 155 miles, the Zamfara river runs through some states in Northern Nigeria which includes Kebbi State, Sokoto State(Sokoto River), and Birnin Kebbi in Kebbi State.

10. Anambra River

The Anambra River is a major river in South-Eastern Nigeria. It was cut out of the River Niger and named by some white men who lived beside the River Niger at that time.

This river covers an approximate distance of 131 miles. It flows through some popular places in Nigeria which include River Niger, Lokoja, and major areas in the Niger-Delta regions in Nigeria.

The Anambra River has continued to serve as a major landmark and economic booster for the Anambra State government and Nigeria as a country to this day.


These rivers play a major role in boosting the Nigerian economy and the everyday life of individuals who live near them.

Communities who reside near these rivers depend on the water generated by the rivers to irrigate their crops, do normal domestic chores, and others.

The River Niger as the longest river in Nigeria also serves as a means of transport and fishing in large quantities thereby reducing the high unemployment rate of citizens in the country.

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Editorial Team

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