Current Total Population of Nigeria (and How It Grew)


Nigeria is one of the most populated countries in the world and in the last 50 years, its population has grown exponentially.

In this post, you’ll get to know the current population of this sub Saharan nation and how its population has evolved from the pre-independence era till date.

But before we do that, let’s find out a few things about the Nigerian populace.

  • It is estimated that 50% of Nigerians live in the urban areas and there are currently 24 cities with a population of at least 100 000 persons.
  • The state with the least population is Bayelsa State with an estimated 1.7 million residents as at 2017.
  • Nigerians can be found in virtually every country of the world. The majority of these Nigerians are living in countries like Britain and U.S.A while others reside in countries like Canada, South Africa and Gambia.
  • The Nigerian population is literate with over 80% been able to read and write.
  • The state with the highest population in Nigeria is Lagos State. With an estimated population of 17.5 million. Interestingly, Lagos state is one of the smallest states in the country in terms of land area.
  • The last population census took place in March 2016 with a total population of 140 million recorded.

current total population of nigeria

Pre-independence population of Nigeria

In the 1950s, the population of Nigeria was estimated at 37.8 million. At this time, a large chunk of the population (52-55%) was between the ages of 15 and 64 years.

During the same period, the percentage of aging populace was around 3.0 and the life expectancy was pegged at an average of 53.

From 1950 to 1955, the country had a yearly birth rate of over 1.8 million births and an annual death rate of a little over 1 million. Between 1955 up till 1965, the live birth grew from 1.8 million to an average of 2 million births per year and by 1965, the population had grown from 45 million to 56 million.

Apart from these estimates, the Nigerian Government has also relied on census to count its population.

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The first census in Nigeria was carried out by the British. At that time Nigeria was a British colony and this census was done in 1866.

Another census was carried out a few years before the country became an independent nation. This occurred between 1952 and 1953. This census was in successions. It commenced in Lagos where a total of 272 000 people were counted. In May, June and July of 1952, the process moved to Northern Nigeria where 10.8 million persons were counted.

This was followed by an enumeration in December 1952 and January 1953 in western Nigeria where the census figure was published as 6.1 million persons.

The census was concluded in Eastern Nigeria between May to August 1953 with 7.2 million people being counted. Overall, the Nigerian population from the 1952/1953 census was 30.42 million.

After Nigeria attained independence, one of the goals of this newly formed nation was to evaluate its population. This was carried out in 1962 but there were disputes over the inflation of the census figures and the result was cancelled.

Another population census was eventually carried out in 1963. This census recorded a population of 55.6 million. But this census was criticised in some quarters. The critics went ahead to challenge the result of this population count in court. The Federal Supreme Court which presided over the case eventually ruled in favour of the Federal Government and the result stood.

In 1970, there were estimations of the population at 56 million but by 1975; the population had grown to 63.5 million. From 1975, it was clear that the population had begun to consistently grow at a rate of 2 million per year.

The second post independence census was carried out in 1991. It was successfully conducted over a period of 4 days and result of the census was 88.9 million with the number of males being 44.5 million while that of women was 44.4 million.

Based on this result, the ratio of males to females was estimated at 10,000 females to 10,015 males. But the result in the Federal Capital Territory and a few other states didn’t reflect this ratio. For instance, the Federal Capital Territory had a significantly higher ratio of male to female with this region having 123 males to every 100 females.

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By the early 2000s, the Nigerian population had doubled in terms of yearly growth rate with 5 million persons. This was translated to an average of 20 million persons being added every 5 years.

By this time, it was necessary for another census to be taken. Usually, a population census is to be taken every 10 years. But it took 25 years from the last census for the Federal Government to sanction another census. Eventually, the date for the population count was fixed. It was to last 5 days from the 21st to the 25th of March 2006.

Current total population of Nigeria

At the end of the process, the population count was recorded as 140 million. Currently, it is expected that another population census should take place in 2018 but it is highly uncertain that this will happen as there are currently no plans in place yet for this.

However, there are estimates of the current Nigerian population. In 2010, the population was estimated at 160 million. Currently, the figure is said to be close to 200 million.

The UN estimates indicate that there are 186.9 million people living in Nigeria and it is expected that the country will be the 3rd most populous nation in the world by 2050 eclipsing the likes of U.S.A, Indonesia, Pakistan and Brazil.

Overall, the Nigeria is the 7th most populous nation in the world and the number one in Africa. This exponential growth has been linked to the country’s annual birth rate which is expected to double over the next few years. However, medical experts are cautious about this prospect as it is been observed that the infertility rate has been on the increase in the last few years.

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