The Longest Rivers In Nigeria

The Niger River in Nigeria.
The Niger River in Nigeria.

Rivers are very important to the economy of Nigeria. They serve as the main source of water for irrigation, domestic use and industrial use. Where main rivers form a confluence, the speed and volume of water produced has enabled the development of Hydroelectric power stations. This energy serves Nigeria and other neighboring countries, therefore contributing to the economy. Rivers Niger and Benue are the two longest rivers passing through the country. They are regarded as the powerhouses of the economy due to the high number of people and activities that are driven by their waters. The Niger River is the longest river in Nigeria, and is shared together with such other countries as Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Benin. Along with numerous other rivers, these are the longest rivers in Nigeria.

Niger River

The Niger River is the longest river passing through Nigeria, and also the longest river in West Africa. It is the third longest river on the African continent, after the Nile and Congo rivers. It extends through 2,597 miles surging through four other countries. Its main tributary is the Benue River. The source of the Niger is the Guinea highlands in southeastern Guinea and discharges to the Atlantic Ocean through the Niger delta. The Niger has one of the most unusual routes of any of the major rivers in the world. It follows a northeasterly course towards the Sahara Desert before turning southeast to discharge in the Atlantic Ocean. The unusual geography is because it is two ancient rivers joined together to a single route. 


The Benue River, a tributary of the Niger River, is the second longest river in Nigeria, extending for a length of 870 miles. It is shared between Nigeria and Cameroon. Its source is Adamawa Plateau in Cameroon and is one of the most navigable rivers in Nigeria.


The Kaduna is the third-longest river in the country, covering a distance of 342 miles. It is prominent for the number of crocodiles that are found in the river. The river’s name is derived from this fact. The source of river Kaduna is Jos plateau. It is a tributary of river Niger.


The Gongola River is found in northeastern Nigeria, where the upper course of the river and its tributaries are seasonal. It is the principal tributary of the Benue River. It is the fourth-longest river in Nigeria, flowing through a distance of 330 miles. The lower reaches of the river are impounded by the Dadin Kowa Dam and the Kiri Dam further below. This has helped control flood peaks downstream.

Other prominent rivers include the Cross, Komadugu Yobe, Sokoto, Osun, Zamfara, and Anambra. Rivers play a significant role in the everyday life of the Nigerian people. Communities living near rivers are especially dependent on the water supply to irrigate their crops. Major rivers such as Niger river, offer a source of livelihood through fishing and selling of surplus fish to the market.

Longest Rivers In Nigeria

RankMajor Rivers of NigeriaLength
1Niger2,597 miles (shared with Guinea, Mali, Niger, and Benin)
2Benue870 miles (shared with Cameroon)
3Kaduna342 miles
4Gongola330 miles
5Cross304 miles (shared with Cameroon)
6Komadugu Yobe200 miles (shared with Niger)
7Sokoto199 miles
166 miles
9Zamfara155 miles
10Anambra131 miles

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