The smallest states in Nigeria by landmass and population combined include Lagos, Anambra, Imo, Nasarawa, Abia, Bayelsa, Osun, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Ekiti, Ebonyi, and Kwara state.
These top smallest states cut across the South West, South East, and South-South geopolitical zones. With this, it is evident that States within the northern region are bigger. In fact, in the top 16 smallest states in Nigeria, there is no single northern region state (Except for the FCT, Abuja).
In terms of population, on the other hand, Bayelsa is the least populated state, having only 2.3 million out of the 201.1 million people in Nigeria. It is followed by Nasarawa, Ebonyi, and Kwara States. As far as one can tell, there is more to be explored on the smallest states in Nigeria by landmass and population. Read further to find out.
Which State is the Smallest State in Nigeria?
10. Bayelsa State
- Capital: Yenagoa
- Size: 10,773 km2
- Population: 2.3 million
- Region: South South
Bayelsa is number 10 in the list of smallest states in Nigeria by landmass, but it is number 1 in the list of smallest states by population. This makes it the least populated and smallest in area size in the south-south region.
The State was carved out from Rivers State and has only 8 local governments. With this, it is known to have the least number of local government areas in Nigeria. Despite its size, Bayelsa has one of the largest crude oil and natural gas deposits in Nigeria.
The State is known to be filled with rivers, and as such, it is susceptible to annual flooding, which has left many homeless in the past years.
There are numerous languages found in the state, and they are Abureni, Southeast Ijo, Ogbia, Kugbo, Izon, Kolokuma, Nembe, Ijaw, Abureni, Odual, Ogbia, Oruma, Buseni, Isokko, Ogbah, Okodia, Urhobo, Engenni, Epie-Atissa, Izon, Ekpeye.
Among these languages, the largest is Ijaw, which is also known as Ijo. It is also spoken in Edo, Delta, Rivers, and Ondo, among other States around the area. Some notable Ijaw people are Goodluck Jonathan and Edwin K. Clarke. Other famous people from Bayelsa State are actors Dakore Egbuson Akande and Daniel Lloyd; musicians Timi Dakolo and Timaya; and politician/businessman Ben Murray Bruce.
9. Osun State
- Capital: Osogbo
- Size: 9,251 km2
- Population: 4.2 million
- Region: South West
With an area size of 9,251 km2, Osun State is definitely the 9th smallest state in Nigeria by land. However, by population, it is the 25th largest, with slightly over 4.2 million population.
The state has many rivers which cover some of its areas. These rivers include the River Osun, Erinle, and Oba rivers.
Although the state is mainly made up of Yorubas, there are other dialects of the language, such as Ibolo, Ifẹ, Igbomina, Ijesha, and Oyo subgroups.
Osun State is renowned for harboring many tourist centers. Many of the tourist attractions are related to the rich cultural heritage of the state. One of the most notable Erin-Ijesha Waterfalls is located in the Oraide local government area.
Moreover, many inhabitants are farmers and produce crops such as cassava and cocoas. Osun State also has mineral resources such as gold, granite, columbite, talc, tantalite, and tourmaline.
8. Enugu State
- Capital: Enugu
- Size: 7,161 km2
- Population: 4.3 million
- Region: South East
By population, Enugu is the 24th smallest state in Nigeria, with about 4.3 million people. By size, it is the 8th smallest among the 10 on our list, and the 29th among the 36 states of Nigeria.
Its area size is 7,161 km2, but despite its small size in the country, it is the largest state in southeastern Nigeria. Enugu was created in 1991, and it is bordered by Benue, Ebonyi, and Kogi, among other states.
The state is an economic hub, and many of its people are traders and farmers. Some major factory products are plastic and clothing. In terms of agriculture, the state is famed for its place in producing rice, yams, cocoyam, cassava, and palm oil.
Furthermore, Enugu State is rich in mineral produce, especially coal. It is for this reason that the state is also called a “coal city”.
With its 17 local governments, there is a central language, Igbo. However, there are minority languages such as Idoma and Igala. Some notable people from the state are actors Chiwetel Ejiofor, Patience Ozokwor, Zack Orji, Bracket, Bianca Ojukwu, and Racheal Okonkwo, and musician Frank Edwards.
7. Akwa Ibom State
- Capital: Uyo
- Size: 7,081 km2
- Population: 4.7 million
- Region: South South
Based on population, Akwa Ibom holds the 20th position in Nigeria. With respect to its size in area, it is number 7 on this list, and among the 36 states of Nigeria, it holds the 29th position with a 7,081 km2 size.
This makes it the smallest state in the south-south in landmass but one of the biggest in population in the geopolitical zone.
Despite its landmass, it has 31 local government areas with major ethnic groups such as Ibibio, Anaang, Oro, and Obolo. Other ethnic groups within the state are Efik, Ekid, Ibuno, Ika Oku, Nkari, Idere, Ebughu, Efai, Enwan, Oro, Iko, Okobo, Ilue, and Khana.
Akwa Ibom people are involved in different things, such as civil service, trading, and farming. Nonetheless, the major products of the state are crude oil and natural gas.
6. Ekiti State
- Capital: Ado Ekiti
- Size: 6,353 km2
- Population: 3.3 million
- Region: Southwestern Nigeria
Of the 36 states of Nigeria, Ekiti is the 31st largest by landmass. This means that it is the 6th smallest state by landmass as it is measured at 6,353 km2. Similarly, it is also the 6th smallest state in population, with 3.3 million people.
Ekiti State is one of the six states in southwestern Nigeria and the second smallest state in its geopolitical zone. Despite this, it consists of 16 local governments.
The major language found in the state is a dialect of Yoruba known as Ekiti. Another major ethnic group found in the state is the Izon language. One other notable thing about Ekiti is the fact that despite having a particular language, there are varieties of dialects. This means that there are word and sometimes pronunciation variations.
Regardless, people of different dialects, as found in the different local governments of the state, understand each other.
The state, which was founded in 1996, is endowed with water, agricultural produce, and mineral resources. Staying faithful to this nature, the state’s people explore farming, mining, trading, and civil service. It is one of the major producers of cocoa in Nigeria. Other things found are timber, granite, limestone, and iron ore,
5. Abia State
- Capital: Umuahia
- Size: 6,320 km2
- Population: 3.8 million
- Region: Southeastern Nigeria
Abia State is the second largest in southeastern Nigeria but the 5th smallest in landmass in Nigeria. It has a population of 3.8 million, and this makes it the 28th most populated state in the country.
Abia was created in 1991, and it is one of the most famous states in Nigeria, especially because of its place as a major contributor to the country’s GDP. Abia is a major production state with factories, industries, and major markets scattered around it. It also has crude oil and natural gas to thank for its wealth.
Its people are mostly engaged in trading and agriculture. Some agricultural produce are yams, cassava, and palm oil.
Abia is chiefly an Igbo indigenous state, but Ibibio is a minority language found in Arochukwu, the third largest local government in the state.
Famous people from the state are comedian Basketmouth, musician Bright Chimezie, actor Alexx Ekubo, Chelsea Eze, and Uche Jombo, Nigeria’s first female pilot, Chinyere Kalu, and footballer Sunday Mba.
4. Ebonyi State
- Capital: Abakaliki
- Size: 5,670 km2
- Population: 3 million
- Region: Southeast
In landmass, Ebonyi State is the 4th smallest State in Nigeria, and in population, it is the 34th. This is clear evidence that Ebonyi is one of the smallest in both area and population.
Still focusing on its population, it is the least in the Southeastern region but its area is larger than Imo and Anambra.
The state was created in 1996 and currently has 13 local government areas. While Igno remains its primary language, there are many dialects of the language. They include Orride, Ikwo, Ohaozara, Ezza, Afikpo, and Effium.
3. Imo State
- Capital: Owerri
- Size: 5,530 km2
- Population: 5.1 million
- Region: South East
Imo is the third smallest state in Nigeria in landmass and the fourteenth most populous state in the country. The state is inhabited by Igbo native speakers of the Niger-Congo language family.
The state was created in 1976 by the Murtala Muhammed regime and was later broken to form Abia State. Despite its size, the state has 27 local governments.
The state is a rich oil-producing state, and it depends heavily on trade and agriculture. Some of its products are crude oil, natural gas, palm oil, cassava, and yams.
Furthermore, Imo has numerous investments in hospitality and other companies that open job opportunities and encourage trading in the state. Some major investments include Heineken Brewers under the Nigerian Breweries, Paris Heritage Hotels, and the Gmicord Steel Industry.
2. Anambra State
- Capital: Awka
- Size: 4,844 km2
- Population: 5.5 million
- Region: South East
With an area of 4,844 km2, Anambra is the second smallest state in Nigeria and the smallest among the 5 South Eastern in Nigeria. It has 21 local government areas, including Onitsha, one of the fastest-growing commercial cities in West Africa.
Trade has been placed at a high level among Anambra’s populace. The economic hub has many industries, but one of the most renowned is the first Nigerian vehicle manufacturer, Innoson, which is located in Nnewi.
Even at that, mining and agriculture are other aspects of life that the people explore. Some of its natural resources are natural gas, crude oil, bauxite, and ceramic. Its agricultural produce, on the other hand, is palm oil, maize, cassava, and yam.
Regarding population, the 2006 census places Anambra as the 14th most populous state in Nigeria and one of the most densely populated areas in Nigeria. However, there are thoughts that the state may have over 5 million population, as it is commonly reported.
This is because, in 2022, it was revealed that only Onitsha has about 1.6 million people.
The state is home to Igbo people, and it has produced celebrated people such as writer Chinua Achebe, politicians Peter Obi and Chris Ngige; actors Ebube Nwagbo and Zubby Michael; and musicians Osita Osadebe, Flavour N’abania, P-Square, and Phyno.
1. Lagos State
- Capital: Ikeja
- Size: 3,345 km2
- Population: 12.7 million
- Region: South Western Nigeria
Lagos state has about 12.7 million people in estimation, making it the second most populated state in Nigeria, the most populated in South West, and the most densely populated state in Nigeria.
Even with this remarkable population, the state falls short in size as it is the smallest state, covering only 3,345 of area.
The state has 20 local governments. It is notable for being one of the fastest-growing commercial states in Africa. It relies mostly on trade, industries, and civil service.
This has made it the state with the highest GDP in Nigeria. Also, this is a huge contribution factor to the fact that Nigeria is leading in terms of GDP in Africa. The state is native to famous people such as Wizkid, Banky W, Desmond Elliot, and Jide Kosoko.
Is Lagos the Smallest State in Nigeria?
Yes, Lagos is the smallest state by area size in Nigeria. In fact, it is about 22.8 times smaller than the largest state in Nigeria, which is Niger. It is also about 73,018 km2 smaller than Niger. In addition, Lagos is about 1,499 km2 smaller than the second smallest state in Nigeria, Anambra.
The state’s population density is 3,791/km². This means that Lagos’ population is higher as compared to its size.
Although Nigeria’s official census claims that the state’s population is 12.7 million, there is a disparity as the state’s official website reports its population as 24.6 million inhabitants in 2015.
Which State has the Smallest Local Government in Nigeria?
In size, Lagos has the smallest local government in Nigeria, and it is known as Lagos Island, with an 8.7 km2 land area. This is followed by Anambra’s Onitsha South (10km2) and then another Lagos Local Government, Agege.
The smallest LGA in Nigeria, Lagos Island, was previously the state capital of Lagos until 1957. It is a part of the Lagos Division, and its population is 314,900 (2019 estimation).
This modern city, as its name implies, is a water-surrounded environment, and its natives are true to their nature by delving into fish farming.
Shifting a little focus from the state with the smallest local government to the state with the least number of local government areas in Nigeria, Bayelsa tops the ranking. It has only 8 LGAs, and this makes it about 36 short of local governments compared to Kano, which has 44 and has the most LGAs in the country.
Summary of the 10 Smallest States in Nigeria by Landmass
- Lagos State – 3,345 km2
- Anambra State – 4,844 km2
- Imo State – 5,530 km2
- Ebonyi State – 5,670 km2
- Abia State – 6,320 km2
- Ekiti State – 6,353 km2
- Akwa Ibom State – 7,081 km2
- Enugu State – 7,161 km2
- Osun State – 9,251 km2
- Bayelsa State – 10,773 km2
10 Smallest States in Nigeria by Population
- Bayelsa State – 2.3 million
- Nasarawa State – 2.6 million
- Ebonyi State – 3 million
- Kwara State – 3.2 million
- Taraba State – 3.33 million
- Ekiti State – 3.35 million
- Yobe State – 3.39 million
- Gombe State – 3.6 million
- Abia State – 3.8 million
- Kogi State – 4.1 million