Today, we will compile a shortlist of cities that are considered to be the largest in West Africa and Africa as a whole in terms of population and territory. They are as follows:
Top 10 Largest Cities In West Africa
10. Benin City
First on our list, at number 10, is Benin City. It is the capital and largest city of Edo State, Nigeria’s southernmost state. With a population of 1,782,000 as of 2021, it is Nigeria’s fourth-largest city after Lagos, Kano, and Ibadan.
Benin City is the heart of Nigeria’s rubber industry. It was the most important city of Benin’s Edo kingdom, which flourished from the 13th to the 19th centuries. It had important trade relations with Portugal in the previous centuries before being razed by a British punitive raid in 1897.
The “bini” speak the Edo language as well as other Edodlanguages. They also possess one of the richest dress cultures on the African continent, with beads, body marks, bangles, anklets, etc.
Number 9 and quite a mouthful to pronounce, Ouagadougou. It is the capital of Burkina Faso and the country’s administrative, communications, cultural, and economic center. It is also the largest city in the country, with a population of 2,453,496 in 2019. The ouagalais are primarily involved in food processing and textiles production.
Ouagadougou also has an international airport and is connected by rail to Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and, for freight only, Kaya. One of West Africa’s largest markets is in Ouagadougou, which burned down in 2003 but has since reopened with improved facilities and fire-prevention measures.
On spot number 8, Dakar is Senegal’s capital and largest city. Main Dakar has a population of 1,030,594, while the Dakar metropolitan area is expected to have a population of 3.94 million in 2021. Senegal’s traditional culture revolves heavily around the concept of family. This includes the manner in which they eat.
When it’s time to eat a traditional meal, someone will say “kay lekk,” which translates to “come eat.” Everyone will gather around the plate and eat with their hands. The general etiquette in Dakar is very simple but very important.
Not greeting someone on sight demonstrates rudeness and, in some cases, ignorance. Dakar hosts quite a number of national and international festivals, including the World Festival of Black Arts, the International Film Festival of Dakar’s Quarter, and the Dakar Biennale.
Kumasi is also one of the largest cities in West Africa. The city is located in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Kumasi, alternatively known as the Garden City, is home to an estimated 3.3 million people ( as of 2020). It is Ghana’s second-largest city, following the capital, Accra.
Kumasi’s economic activities include the financial and commercial sectors, as well as pottery, clothing, and textiles. Kumasi also has a large timber processing community that serves the needs of Ghanaians.
Spot number 6 belongs to a city in Oyo State, Nigeria. Ibadan is the capital and largest city of Oyo State, Nigeria. It is one of Nigeria’s largest cities by population after Lagos and Kano, with a total population of 3,649,000 as of 2021 and a metropolitan population of over 6 million people.
Ibadan is in the southwestern part of Nigeria and serves as a vital link between the country’s coastal region and its hinterland. The Yoruba people are the city’s primary inhabitants, along with various communities from other parts of the country (most notably the Igbo, Hausa, and Efik).
Several industries are located in and around the city, including agro-allied, textiles, food processing, health care and cosmetics, tobacco processing and cigarette manufacturing, leatherwork, and so on.
Spot number 5, Kano. Kano is the capital of Kano State in the northern part of Nigeria. After Lagos, Kano is the second-largest city in Nigeria with over four million people living within 449 km2 (173 sq mi). Located south of the Sahara, Kano is a major trans-Saharan trade route. For millennia, the city has served as a trading and human settlement.
The city is one of the seven medieval Hausa kingdoms and is home to an estimated 4.1 million people (2021), the majority of whom are Hausa. Islam came to the city in the 11th century or earlier, primarily through trans-Saharan trade, and as a result, it became wealthy and is known as the commercial nerve center of the region and Northern Nigeria, and today, it is still referred to as the “center of commerce.”
Abuja is one of the biggest cities in West Africa. Spot number 4, is Nigeria’s capital and eighth-most populous city, Abuja. It is a planned city in the center of the country within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) built in the 1980s based on a master plan by the Japanese architect Kenzo Tange. On December 12, 1991, it took over as the capital of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city.
As of 2015, the city had an annual growth rate of at least 35%, keeping it the fastest-growing city on the African continent and one of the fastest-growing in the world.
Spot number 3, the city of Accra. Accra is Ghana’s capital city covering an area of 225.67 km2 (87.13 sq mi) and having an estimated urban population of 4.2 million as of 2020. It contains twelve local government districts: eleven municipal districts and the Accra Metropolitan District, which is the only district with city status.
Accra’s people are involved in economic activities including finance and commerce, fishing, and the production of processed foods, lumber, plywood, textiles, clothing, and chemicals.
Spot number 2, Abidjan (pronounced AB-ih-JAHN). Abidjan is the economic capital of the Ivory Coast and one of Africa’s most populated French-speaking cities. According to the 2014 census, Abidjan’s population was 4.7 million, accounting for 20% of the country’s total population.
It is also the sixth most populous city proper in Africa, trailing Lagos, Cairo, Kinshasa, Dar es Salaam, and Johannesburg.
As Abidjan is also the country’s largest city and the center of economic activity, it has been officially designated as the country’s “economic capital.”
Our esteemed number one spot goes to Lagos, the city of opportunities, or Eko, as its inhabitants usually call it. Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria and the most populous city in Africa, with a population of approximately 23.5 million people as of 2018, making it Africa’s most populous conurbation.
The megacity has Africa’s 4th-highest GDP and one of the continent’s largest and busiest seaports. It is also a major educational and cultural center in Sub-Saharan Africa. Lagos was once Nigeria’s capital city, but it has since been replaced by Abuja.
Lagos has drawn many young people and families seeking a better life from all over Nigeria and beyond, contributing to its cosmopolitan status.