Major Land & Water Features of Nigeria


Nigeria is a country in West Africa with diverse land features and climate. Archaeology shows people have been living in this region for tens of thousands of years, and today it is the most populated country in Africa. The lives and cultures of the Nigerian people have been influenced by the country's geographical features.

Size and Location

  • Nigeria covers 400,000 square miles, twice the size of California. It shares borders with Chad, Cameroon, Benin and Niger. Nigeria is also has a coast along the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Benin. This connection to water has been important to the development of Nigeria, and many people fish for a living in this region. More than 100 million people from 200 ethnic groups live and work in Nigeria. One of Nigeria's primary resources is oil, and Nigeria's oil reserves are some of the largest in the world.

Niger and Benue Rivers

  • The Niger and Benue rivers are the major water features in Nigeria. The Benue is the smaller of the two, and it is one of the major tributaries for the Niger river. Several smaller tributaries flow into the Benue, such as the Mayo Kebbi. The Niger River is the primary river in West Africa, and it is used for transportation. It is the third longest river in Africa, after the Nile and the Congo. Both the Niger and the Benue flood during the rainy seasons, usually from September to May. The valleys and deltas around the rivers are fertile and have rich soil.


  • The southern portion of Nigeria is covered in forests and marshes. There is a rainforest, which is home to many species of plants and animals. The deforestation rate is high in Nigeria, and much of the rainforest is destroyed each year. Also, the Nigerian oil industry contributes to a lot of pollution in the region. Farther south of the rainforest area are swamps, and freshwater and saltwater marshes. The salt water marshes contain thousands of mangrove trees, causing this region to be called the Mangrove Swamp.


  • The northern portion of Nigeria is covered in savanna and grasslands, with some small forests interspersed among the plains. The savannas receive little rainfall, and are prone to wildfires during the dry season. The plains are covered in tall grasses, shrubs and trees. This region is home to a nomadic groups called the Fulani, as well as a number of plains animals such as wild dogs, zebras and elephants. There are large volcanic rocks and outcroppings that form a dramatic silhouette on the Nigerian landscape.

Adamawa Plateau

  • The Adamawa Plateau is a volcanic highland formation in the eastern part of Nigeria. This highland region includes the Gotel Mountains, and the source of the Benue River is on the plateau. The highland is at 3,000 feet in elevation, but some places reach as high as 8,000 feet. Under the volcanic sediment is a granite base, and other minerals are found in the plateau and mountains. The region is covered in savanna grasslands, and there are some forested areas. There are several national parks in the Adamawa Plateau and Gotel Mountains, such as the Gashaka-Gumti park, which is home to hippos, chimpanzees and other wildlife.

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