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These are the top ten cities in West Africa by population Which one is the largest?


Natural population growth rates and rural-to-urban migration are the primary causes of the massive populations in most West African cities. These large populations boost the market for the consumption of products and services while contributing more labor for their production. As a result, this has spurred significant economic growth in many West African cities and transformed them into Africa's major commercial, economic, and political hubs. This article unveils the largest city in West Africa by population as well as other major West African cities that are both economically prosperous and have a large population.

Which is the largest city in West Africa by population?
A top view of cars on a Lagos city highway. Photo: pexels.com, @David Iloba (modified by author)
Source: UGC

The vast population in West African cities also leads to higher tax revenues. Nonetheless, the poverty levels in some parts of these cities also prove that, in some instances, larger populations and increased population density does not guarantee that everyone in that region will be economically successful. For example, the increasing population in these cities has caused negative impacts like slum proliferation and high unemployment rates.

Even though huge populations in West African cities have led to issues like the spread of slums and high unemployment rates, the massive economic growth in these cities confirms that, in most cases, the benefits of having many people in these places exceed the negative effects. Below are the ten largest cities in West Africa by population:

1. Lagos city in Nigeria - Over 15.9 million people

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largest city in West Africa
A landscape of broad streets in Lagos city. Photo: Olasunkanmi Ariyo
Source: Getty Images
  • Area size: 1,171 km²
  • Population: Over 15.9 million people

Lagos is the largest city in West Africa by population size. Over 15.9 million people live here. Lagos is the commercial capital of Nigeria and the largest industrial and commercial center of West Africa. The city is on the shores of the Benin and Lagos Lagoons.

What is the official language of Lagos?

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Most Lagos residents use the English language in daily communication. The most common local dialects in the city are Igbo, Awori, Hausa, and Yoruba.

2. Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire - Over 5.6 million people

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the largest city in West Africa by population
A view of Le Plateau and Ebrie Lagoon, in Abidjan city, from the top of the Cathedrale St-Paul. Photo: Craig Pershouse
Source: Getty Images
  • Area size: 2,119 km²
  • Population: Over 5.6 million people

Abidjan is the economic and political capital of the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, the administrative center of La Région des Lagunes, and, at the same time, the country's largest city. Abidjan is on four peninsulas on the La lagune Ébrié shores of the Gulf of Guinea, southeast of Côte d'Ivoire. It is the second-largest city in West Africa by population. Abidjan hosts a population of over 5.6 million people.

Do people in Abidjan speak English?

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French is the most used language in Abidjan because it is Ivory Coast's official language. Nonetheless, a good number of people in this city also speak English.

3. Kano city in Nigeria - Over 4.3 million people

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largest city in West Africa by population
A scenic view of the sea against the sky from the Nigerian Airforce Barracks, Kano, Nigeria. Photo: INNOCENT KONLYET / 500px
Source: Getty Images
  • Area size: 499 km²
  • Population: Over 5.6 million people

Kano is the capital of Kano State and the second largest city in Nigeria by population after Lagos. The city accommodates over 4.3 million people. Kano has a peaceful environment, has friendly people, and is easy to get by daily.

What language do they speak in Kano?

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Hausa and Fulfulde are the official/most spoken languages in Kano State.

4. Abuja city in Nigeria - Over 3.8 million people

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largest city in West Africa
An aerial view shows empty streets in Lagos, Nigeria. Photo: PIERRE FAVENNECl
Source: Getty Images
  • Area size: 1,476 km²
  • Population: Over 3.8 million people

The city of Abuja is nicknamed “The Centre of Unity.” The government changed Nigeria's capital city from Lagos to Abuja on 12th December 1991 because of Abuja's central location, easy accessibility, low population density, salubrious climate, and the availability of land for future expansion. Abuja city now has over 3.8 million inhabitants.

What language is mostly spoken in Abuja?

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English is the official/most spoken language in Abuja city. Also, major Nigerian languages like Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo are popular in this region.

5. Kumasi city in Ghana - Over 3.7 million people

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Which is the largest city in West Africa by population?
Aerial view of the whole Kumasi market. Photo: Wirestock
Source: Getty Images
  • Area size: 254 km²
  • Population: Over 3.7 million people

Kumasi city accommodates over 3.7 million people. It is located in a rainforest region near Lake Bosomtwe and is the industrial, commercial, and cultural capital of the historical Ashanti Empire. Kumasi remains the seat of the Asantehene (Asante king) and the home of the Golden Stool, which is a symbol of royal authority and the people's unity.

What language is spoken in Kumasi, Ghana?

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English and Asante Twi are the primary languages in Kumasi. Other languages like Akuapem Twi and Fante are also popular in this city.

6. Ibadan city in Nigeria - Over 3.6 million people

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Which is the largest city in West Africa
A view of the city of Ibadan from the Bower Tower. Photo: Bimbo Omopo
Source: Getty Images
  • Area size: 3,080 km²
  • Population: Over 3.6 million people

Ibadan is the capital and most populous city of Oyo State, southwestern Nigeria. It is the country's largest city by geographical area and the fourth largest by population after Lagos, Kano, and Abuja. Ibadan city hosts over 3.6 million people.

What language is spoken in Ibadan, Nigeria?

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Yoruba is one of the most widely spoken languages in Ibadan, Nigeria.

7. Dakar city in Senegal - Over 3.4 million people

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Which is the largest city in West Africa
Dakar city center overview at sunset. Photo: Luis Dafos
Source: Getty Images
  • Area size: 83 km²
  • Population: Over 3.4 million people

Dakar city hosts over 3.4 million people. It is the capital of Senegal and has an Atlantic port on the Cap-Vert peninsula. The city's economy continues to grow yearly because it is one of the chief seaports on the western African coast.

What language do they speak in Dakar?

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French is the official language, while Wolof is the most widely spoken vehicular language in Dakar.

8. Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso - Over 3.2 million people

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Which is the largest city in West Africa
The Central Bank of West African States, BCEAO, in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Photo: mtcurado
Source: Getty Images
  • Area size: 520 km²
  • Population: Over 3.2 million people

Over 3.2 million people live in Ouagadougou city. The city is the administrative, communications, cultural, and economic center of Burkina Faso. Its other name is Wagadugu, but most people prefer to call it Ouaga (the short form of Ouagadougou). The city's inhabitants are called ouagalais.

What are the top 3 languages spoken in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso?

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French is the city's official language, but the principal local languages are Mooré, Dyula, and Fulfulde.

9. Accra in Ghana - Over 2.6 million people

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Which is the largest city in West Africa
Vehicles slowly start to occupy the streets in Accra, Ghana. Photo: NIPAH DENNIS
Source: Getty Images
  • Area size: 225.7 km²
  • Population: Over 2.6 million people

Accra city is the economic and administrative hub of the Greater Accra Region. It also serves as the anchor of the larger Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA). Over 2.6 million people inhabit Accra, thus making it one of the ten largest cities in West Africa by population.

What is the main language in Accra?

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Ga, Twi, Ada, Eve, and English are the most widely spoken languages in Accra city.

10. Benin city in Nigeria - Over 1.9 million people

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Which is the largest city in West Africa by population?
A crowd of people gathered on the street in Benin city, Nigeria. Photo: Olukayode Jaiyeola/NurPhoto
Source: Getty Images
  • Area size: 1,204 km²
  • Population: Over 1.9 million people

Over 1.9 million people live in Benin city. It is the capital of Edo State, southern Nigeria, and the fifth largest city in the country by population. Benin city has experienced strong economic growth over the period over the years.

What language do Benin city inhabitants speak?

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The indigenous people of Benin city are the Edo people (the Benin people) and the Oredo. Edo people speak the Edo language, while the Oredo speak the Bini language.

What is the largest city in West Africa in 2023?

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Most of the largest West African cities (by population and land mass) and the most developed ones are in Nigeria. The ten largest cities in West Africa by population are:

  • Lagos city in Nigeria - Over 15.9 million people
  • Abidjan city in Côte d’Ivoire - Over 5.6 million people
  • Kano city in Nigeria - Over 4.3 million people
  • Abuja city in Nigeria - Over 3.8 million people
  • Kumasi city in Ghana - Over 3.7 million people
  • Ibadan city in Nigeria - Over 3.6 million people
  • Dakar city in Senegal - Over 3.4 million people
  • Ouagadougou city in Burkina Faso - Over 3.2 million people
  • Accra city in Ghana - Over 2.6 million people
  • Benin city in Nigeria - Over 1.9 million people

Which city is the largest city in West Africa by population?

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The largest city in West Africa is Lagos, Nigeria, with over 15.9 million inhabitants.

Which is the largest city in West Africa by land mass?

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Ibadan is the largest city in West Africa by land mass, with an area of 3,080 km².

What is the most developed city in West Africa?

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Lagos, Nigeria, is the most developed city in West Africa.

What is the largest city in Africa?

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Lagos, Nigeria, is the largest city in Africa by population. It hosts over 15.9 million people.

What are the three largest cities in Africa?

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Lagos, Kinshasa, and Cairo are the largest cities in Africa by population. Lagos has a population of 15.9 million, while Kinshasa and Cairo are home to about 7.7 million people each.

What is the smallest city in Africa?

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Pólo, Angola, is the smallest city in Africa by population. The city covers an area of 1 km² and has a population of around 4,000 people.

Lagos is the largest city in West Africa by population but not the largest by area size. Nonetheless, Nigeria still has the largest city in West Africa by land mass, which is Ibadan.

Largest city in West Africa by population
Photo: canva.com (modified by author)
Source: UGC

Legit shared a list of the largest states in Nigeria by land mass. Nigeria has 36 states and one Federal Capital Territory. Each state has been subdivided further into local government areas (LGAs).

As a result, the country has 774 local government areas. Some states and LGAs occupy more land mass and have more people than others.

Source: Legit.ng

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