20 Major Rivers In Nigeria And Their Locations

What are the major rivers in Nigeria? According to many beliefs, rivers, to a large extent play the same roles to land, in the same way, that veins are known to do to the human body. For many years, rivers have served as an indispensable form of a natural resource to the common man and his environment; from transportation to irrigation, rivers will always be of importance to mankind.

Do you know that Nigeria is home to one of the major rivers in Africa? Yes, the River Niger, which is found in Nigeria, is said to be the third-longest river in Africa.


But, it should be known that Nigeria is home to more than just the River Niger. Today, we will explore twenty major rivers in Nigeria. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride on the rivers of knowledge that is about to come flooding your way.

20 Major Rivers In Nigeria And Their Locations

#1 River Niger

Known to be the third-longest river in Africa, the River Niger stretches over 1,400km across Nigeria, taking its place as the longest river in the country. The river flows from the Sahara desert to the southeastern part of the continent, amassing a total length of 4,180km.

It flows from the northern part of the country, through the large tributaries of Sokoto and Kaduna and further travels south towards the Benue River, from where it travels further eastward, towards the Gulf of Guinea where it completes its path through the country and makes its exit. River Niger is first on the list of major rivers in Nigeria.

#2 River Benue

This is the longest river in Nigeria besides the River Niger. In fact, the Rivers Benue and Niger are the most recognized rivers in the country and have made their way to the country’s coat of arms as a result of this fact.

The River Benue flows prominently in the western region of Africa. With a length of nearly 1,400 km, it is without a doubt the largest Niger River tributary in Nigeria. Flowing through densely populated and humid areas of the country, serving as a source of livelihood to the inhabitants of that area.

#3 Kaduna River

Though not as famous as the two giants mentioned above, the Kaduna River flows along the northern part of the country and is accessed by the Hausa tribe in that region. It is known to be the home to various crocodiles, hence its name. Spanning a total length of 550 km, this river has earned its title as one of the major rivers in the country.

#4 Cross River

The Cross River is also one of the major rivers in Nigeria, running for hundreds of kilometres. It flows from Cameroon and makes its way into the Gulf of Guinea, all the while cutting across the southern part of the country, which happens to be home to the Efik tribe.

It is also named after that geographical region of the country and one of the five rivers in Nigeria that share their names with a state.

#5 Nun River

Being the longest branch of the main Niger River extension, the Nun crosses through the state of Bayelsa from the Niger delta, running from North to south. It has a length of over 160 km and flows through lightly populated marshes. It is located in the southern part of Nigeria.

#6 Sokoto River

The River flows mainly through the north-western region of Nigeria. It flows through four geographical regions; Kaduna, Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi. Crops like rice, sugar cane, peanuts, cotton, tobacco, and so on, are grown on the banks of the river, thereby making it a significant contribution to the agricultural sector of the Nigerian Economy.

#7 River Forcados

River Forcados is a branch extension of the Niger River used during the mid-twentieth century periods for the purpose of shipping. The Forcados River crosses the Niger Delta from North to South, running all the way into the Atlantic Ocean. It has a length of 198 km.

#8 Komadugu-Yobe River

The Komadugu-Yobe River extends into Lake Chad. The current of this river serves as a natural boundary between Nigeria and the country of Niger.

#9 Oueme River

With a length of approximately 480 km, this river forms a natural boundary between the Benin Republic and Nigeria. It is located in the Westernmost part of the country and is considered to be a major river by many.

#10 Anambra River

Spanning an incredible 210 km, the Anambra River has come to be known as a major tributary of the River Niger below the town of Lokoja. The natural landmark from which the present Anambra state was formed was initially called “Anam Branch of the River Niger”. With time, this name was shortened to Anambra; which it bears to date.

#11 Osun River

This River flows through the central Yoruba lands located in the southeastern part of the country, southwards into the Lagos lagoon, and further into the Atlantic Gulf of Guinea. This River is shrouded in various local mythologies, one of which being; the story of female deities that transformed into the River due to some form of emotional anguish.

#12 Bonny River

Found in Rivers State, Nigeria. This River links Bonny Island to Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers state.

#13 Imo River

Also known as Mimri Imo in the Igbo language. This river is located in the southeastern part of Nigeria and has a length of 240 km. It flows directly into the Atlantic Ocean. Its estuary is estimated to be 40 km in width, with an annual discharge of 4 cubic kilometres.

#14 Kwa Ibo River

With its mouth being the home to one of the biggest fishing settlements in the country, the Kwa Ibo River is found within the south-eastern part of Nigeria and flows further southwards into the Atlantic Ocean. The aforementioned Fishing settlement is located around 3 kilometres from the mouth of the River.

#15 Ogun River

Located in marshy areas of Lagos State, Nigeria; this waterway discharges directly into the Lagos Lagoon. It rises in Oyo state and navigates its path through Ogun state and later finds its way into Lagos state.

The river runs along the edge of the Old Oyo National Park. This provides a perfect recreational facility for tourism.

#16 Donga River

This River is shared by Nigeria and Cameroon. It rises from the Mambila plateau in the far eastern part of the country, forming a border between Nigeria and Cameroon. It flows southward to merge with the River Benue. The Donga River covers an area of 20,000 square kilometres. There are three forest reserves in Taraba state that are linked to the water channels of the Donga River.

#17 Katsina-Ala River

This River is located in the middle belt, also known as the Central Region of Nigeria. It serves as one of the major Tributaries of the River Benue. It is 320 km long and flows from the Bamenda Highlands in Cameroon into Nigeria.

#18 Rima River

It is a prominent river found in the northernmost part of Nigeria. It runs southwest, merging with the Sokoto River and further southwards to link up with the NigerRiver. The Upper Rima is a seasonal river; it only flows during the rainy season.

#19 Escravos River

The word “Escravos” is Portuguese for “slave”. This River was used as a conduit for the slave trade during the 18th century. Being a distributary of the River Niger, the Escravos River flows for a total of 57 kilometers, until it reaches the Gulf of Guinea, from where it flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

Chevron, known to be a major US oil company, has its plant situated at the mouth of the Escravos.

#20 Oli River

This River is located in the southeastern part of the Country. It is a tributary of the River Niger.


Without a doubt, rivers are of great importance to the development of any country. It is a blessing that Nigeria is endowed with so many rivers.

Here’s a quick recap of the 20 major rivers in Nigeria:

  1. River Niger
  2. River Benue
  3. Kaduna River
  4. Cross River
  5. Nun
  6. Sokoto River
  7. River Forcados
  8. Komadugu-Yobe
  9. Oueme
  10. Anambra River
  11. Osun River
  12. Bonny River
  13. Imo River
  14. Kwa Ibo River
  15. Ogun River
  16. Donga River
  17. Katsina-Ala
  18. Rima River
  19. Escravos River
  20. Oli River

There are many more rivers in this great country, some of which weren’t even mentioned above. Which of these natural works of art would you like to visit?

Which river is the deepest in Nigeria?

River Ethiope is the deepest river in Nigeria. The river is located in Delta State in a community known as Umuaja.
It is also said to be the deepest inland waterway in Africa.

Which state has the biggest river in Nigeria?

Niger has the biggest river in Nigeria and the longest river in West Africa.

How many major rivers are in Nigeria?

There are many major rivers in Nigeria, just to mention the top 20 major rivers
River Niger
River Benue
Kaduna River
Cross River
Sokoto River
River Forcados
Anambra River
Osun River
Bonny River
Imo River
Kwa Ibo River
Ogun River
Donga River
Rima River
Escravos River
Oli River

1 thought on “20 Major Rivers In Nigeria And Their Locations”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top