Top 10 Major Rivers In Nigeria (2023)

In this article, we shall be looking at the top 10 major rivers in Nigeria this 2023 and their locations. Some of these rivers also rank as part of the longest rivers in Nigeria as well and we have compiled a comprehensive list of them.

Top 10 Major Rivers in Nigeria

Nigeria is blessed with an abundance of water bodies, and some of them play important roles in the lives of the people of the communities around them, helping to continually sustain the life of the inhabitants of the areas they are native to. With that said, we shall list and discuss these major popular rivers in the country as we continue in the article below for your perusal.


The following is the full list of the 10 major rivers in Nigeria and their locations:


The River Niger is the most famous and most important major river in Nigeria. It spans much of the West African subcontinent and is important to life and economic activities in the region. The River Niger originates from the Guinea Highlands in the South-Eastern part of Guinea, running through several West African countries such as Mali, Niger, Republic of Benin and into Nigeria, where it flows through the country, forming a confluence with the River Benue at Lokoja, the capital of Kogi State, before terminating into the Atlantic Ocean through the Niger-Delta into the Gulf of Guinea.


The River Benue is the second most famous major river in Nigeria after the River Niger. The river takes takes its source from the Adamawa Plateau of Northern Cameroon and it flows from there through Garoua town and Lagdo Reservoir in Cameroon, westwards into Nigeria where it continues its flow through the south of the Mandara Mountains, via Jimeta, Ibi and Makurdi from where it proceeds to meet the River Niger at Lokoja, Kogi State; this is its main tributary. The River Benue is approximately 1,400 kilometres long, making it one of the longest rivers in Nigeria.


The Anambra River is located in Anambra State. The State derives its name from the river and the river flows 210 kilometres into the River Niger, with the River Niger going on to terminate at the Atlantic ocean. The river is the most important feeder of the River Niger below Lokoja and it also terminates into the Atlantic through various outlets forming the 25,000-square-kilometre (9,700 sq mi) Niger Delta region.


The Imo River, also known River Imo is located in Imo State, in south-eastern psrt of Nigeria. It is from this river that the State derives its name. The river flows 240 kilometres into the Atlantic Ocean. The Akwa Ibom part of the river is sometimes called Imoh River, or known in the local dialect as Inyang Imoh, which means River of Wealth. The estuary of the Imo River is around 40 kilometres wide, and the river has an annual discharge of 4 cubic kilometres (1.0 cu mi) with 26,000 hectares of wetland. Its tributary rivers include the Otamiri and Oramirukwa.


The Ogun river rises in Sepeteri Oyo State near Shaki in Oyo State and flows through Ogun State into Lagos State where it has its mouth. The river is crossed by the Ikere Gorge Dam in the Iseyin local government area of Oyo State. The reservoir capacity of the river is 690 million cubic metres (560,000 acre⋅ft). The area around the reservoir houses the Old Oyo National Park, providing great tourist attraction to visitors and the river flows through the park. The River Ogun has as its principal tributary the Ofiki River which also rises near Shaki. The Oyan River, another tributary, is crossed by the Oyan River Dam which supplies water to Abeokuta and Lagos.


The Osun River is native to the people of Osun State, in the South-Western part of Nigeria. The river takes its source from Ekiti State and it terminates at the Lekki Lagoon situated in Lagos and Ogun States, and the Gulf of Guinea. Yoruba Legend has it that the Osun River was a woman who turned into flowing waters after some traumatic event frightened or angered her and injustice was meted to her. The river is named after the Osun one of the most popular and venerated deities in Yorubaland. Osun is one of the river goddesses in Yorubaland, popular for providing for the needs of the people and was reputedly one of the wives of Sango, the Alaafin of Old Oyo and the Yoruba god of thunder.


The Kaduna River is a tributary of the River Niger, it flows for 550 kilometres through Nigeria, and it derives its name from the crocodiles which inhabited the river and surrounding area. Kaduna in Hausa language, one of the most popular spoken languages in Nigeria, means “crocodiles”. Kaduna River starts in Plateau State on the Jos Plateau 29 kilometres southwest of Jos town, and flows through Kaduna State and through its capital city Kaduna, where it meets the River Niger in Niger State. Most of the river flows through open savanna woodland, one of the major vegetation in Nigeria, but its lower section has cut several gorges above its entrance into the extensive Niger floodplains.


The Sokoto River formerly known as Gublin Kebbi is located in the north-western part of Nigeria and it is a tributary of the River Niger. The source of the river is near Funtua, a town in the southern part of Katsina State, just before Tsafe in Zamfara State, some 275 kilometres in a straight line from Sokoto. It flows north-west passing Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State, where the Gusau Dam forms a reservoir that supplies the city with water. The river then flows into Sokoto State where it passes by Sokoto and is joined by the Rima River, then turning south and flowing through Birnin-Kebbi, the capital of Kebbi State from which it runs about 120 kilometres south of Birnin-Kebbi, reaching its confluence with the River Niger.


The Cross River is one of the most prominent rivers in the South-South of Nigeria. It takes its source from Cameroon where it is known there as Manyu River. It is from this river that Cross River State derives its name. The Cross River flows from Cameroon, westwards into Nigeria, moving in a south-west direction, forming a tributary with the Aya River in Nigeria, then flowing south after receiving the Western Aboine River from the Udi Hills through thick tropical rain forests, oil-palm bush, and mangrove swamps, finally completing its 304-mile (489-kilometre) course to the Bight of Bonny (Formerly Bight of Biafra) through its estuary, which it shares with the Calabar River.


The Calabar River is situated in Cross River State, South-South Nigeria. It gives Calabar, the capital city of Cross River State its name. The river flows through the city of Calabar, joining the larger Cross River about 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) to the south. The Calabar River forms a natural harbour deep enough for vessels with a draft of 6 metres (20 ft). The Calabar River was a major slave trade route in the colonial era in Nigeria

Other worthy mentions not in our top 10 list include:

  • Taraba River
  • Zamfara River
  • Aba River
  • Oba River
  • Otin River
  • Erinle River
  • Ogunpa River
  • Oji River
  • Okpara River
  • Qua Iboe (Kwa Ibo) River.

The Author

Maduawuchi Obialo

Maduawuchi Obialo is the founder of Nigerian Guide and the Editor-in-Chief at Nigerian Infopedia. He is a professional Web Content Developer and a Biochemist.

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