Ibadan: The Third Largest City in Africa


Ibadan (Yoruba: Ìbàdàn or fully (Ìlú) Ẹ̀bá-Ọ̀dàn, meaning ‘the city at the edge of the savannah’ is the capital city of Oyo Stateand the third largest metropolitan area, by population, inNigeria, after Lagos and Kano, with a population of over 3.5 Million, and the country’s largest metropolis by geographical area. At Nigerian independence, Ibadan was the largest and most populous city in the country, and the third in Africa after Cairo and Johannesburg.

Ibadan is located in south-western Nigeria, 128 km inland northeast of Lagos and 530 km southwest of Abuja, the federal capital, and is a prominent transit point between the coastal region and the areas in the hinterland of the country. Ibadan had been the centre of administration of the oldWestern Region since the days of the British colonial rule, and parts of the city’s ancient protective walls still stand to this day. The principal inhabitants of the city are the Yorubas, as well as various communities from other parts of the country..

Ibadan came into existence in 1829, during a period of turmoil that characterized Yorubaland at the time. It was in this period that many old Yoruba cities such as old Oyo (Oyo ile), Ijaye and Owu disappeared, and newer ones such as Abeokuta, new Oyo (Oyo atiba) and Ibadan sprang up to replace them. According to local historians, Lagelu founded the city, and was initially intended to be a war camp for warriors coming from Oyo, Ife and Ijebu.

As a forest site containing several ranges of hills, varying in elevation from 160 to 275 metres, the location of the camp offered strategic defence opportunities. Moreover, its location at the fringe of the forest (from which the city got its name) promoted its emergence as a marketing centre for traders and goods from both the forest and grassland areas. Ibadan thus had initially began as a military state and remained so until the last decade of the 19th century.

The city-state also succeeded in building a large empire from the 1860s to the 1890s which extended over much of northern and eastern Yorubaland. It was appropriately nicknamed idi Ibon or “gun base”, because of its unique military character.

Unlike other Yoruba cities with traditional kingship institutions however, In Ibadan, the warrior class became the rulers of the city as well as the most important economic group. According to HRH Sir Isaac Babalola Akinyele, the late Olubadan (king) of Ibadan (Olu Ibadan means ‘Lord of Ibadan’), in his authoritative book on the history of Ibadan, Iwe Itan Ibadan (1911), the first city was destroyed due to an incident at an Egungun (masquerade) festival when an Egungun was accidentally disrobed and derisively mocked by women and children in an open marketplace full of people. The then Alaafin of Oyo had ordered the old city destroyed for the act.

Basorun Ogunmola led the Ibadan army that defeated Kurumi of Ijaye, the then Aare Ona Kakanfo of the Yoruba nation.

Lagelu was by now an old, frail man; he could not stop the destruction of his city, but he and some of his people survived the attack and fled to a nearby hill for sanctuary. On the hill they survived by eating oro fruit and snails; later, they cultivated the land and made corn and millets into pap meals known as oori or eko, which they ate with roasted snails. They improvised a bit by using the snail shells to drink the liquefied eko. Ultimately, Lagelu and his people came down from the hill and founded another city, called Eba’dan.

The new city instantly grew prosperous and became a commercial nerve centre. Shortly afterwards, Lagelu died, leaving behind a politically savvy people and a very stable community. The newly enthroned Olubadan made a friendly gesture to the Olowu of Owu by allowing Olowu to marry his only daughter, Nkan. A part of Ibadan was historically an Egba town. The Egba occupants were forced to leave the town and moved to present-day Abeokuta under the leadership of Sodeke as result of their disloyalty. Ibadan grew into an impressive and sprawlingurban center so much that by the end of 1829, Ibadan dominated the Yorùbá region militarily, politically and economically.

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The military sanctuary expanded even further when refugees began arriving in large numbers from northern Oyo following raids by Fulani warriors. After losing the northern portion of their region to the marauding Fulanis, many Oyo indigenes retreated deeper into the Ibadan environs. The Fulani Caliphate attempted to expand further into the southern region of modern-day Nigeria, but was decisively defeated by the armies of Ibadan in 1840, which eventually halted their progress. The colonial period reinforced the position of the city in the Yoruba urban network. After a small boom in rubber business (1901-1913), cocoa became the main produce of the region and attracted European and Levantine firms, as well as southern and northern traders from Lagos, Ijebu-Ode and Kano among others. The city became a major point of bulk trade. Its central location and accessibility from the capital city of Lagos were major considerations in the choice of Ibadan as the headquarters of the Western Provinces (1939) which ranged from The northernmost areas of Oyo state to Ekeremor,Bomadi and Patani, which were regions transferred from the old Delta province in the Old Western region and later Mid-west to the old Rivers state and later Bayelsa, in the redistricting of Nigeria carried out by the Yakubu Gowon administration shortly before the Nigerian civil war.


There are eleven (11) Local Governments in Ibadan Metropolitan area consisting of five urban local governments in the city and six semi-urban local governments in the less city. Local governments at present are institutions created by the military governments but recognised by the 1999 constitution and they are the third tiers of government in Nigeria. Local governments Councils consist of the Executive Arm made up of the Executive Chairman, the Vice chairman, the Secretary and the Supervisory Councilors.

City collage of Ibadan


Population of Ibadan:

3 565 810 people

Latitude of Ibadan:

7,3878 (723’16.008″N)

Longitude of Ibadan:

3,8964 (353’47.004″E)

Altitude of Ibadan:

248 m

GMT time in Ibadan:

+1 hours


Distance from city Ibadan to 25 biggest cities of country: Nigeria

Distance (Km)
 Ibadan – Lagos   118 km
 Ibadan – Abia   487 km
 Ibadan – Ogun   38 km
 Ibadan – Kano   721 km
 Ibadan – Ibadan   0 km
 Ibadan – Kaduna   523 km
 Ibadan – Port Harcourt   449 km
 Ibadan – Benin   225 km
 Ibadan – Maiduguri   1 130 km
 Ibadan – Zaria   585 km
 Ibadan – Aba   459 km
 Ibadan – Jos   618 km
 Ibadan – Ilorin   143 km
 Ibadan – Oyo   52 km
 Ibadan – Enuga   410 km
 Ibadan – Enugu   410 km
 Ibadan – Abeokuta   66 km
 Ibadan – Sokoto   647 km
 Ibadan – Onitsha   347 km
 Ibadan – Onicha   326 km
 Ibadan – Warri   292 km
 Ibadan – Oshogbo   85 km
 Ibadan – Okene   258 km
 Ibadan – Calabar   559 km
 Ibadan – Katsina   744 km

Distance from city: Ibadan to Top 10 cities of the world

Distance (Km)
 Ibadan – Berlin   5 031 km
 Ibadan – London   4 864 km
 Ibadan – Los Angeles   12 374 km
 Ibadan – Moscow   6 053 km
 Ibadan – New York   8 453 km
 Ibadan – Paris   4 521 km
 Ibadan – Peking   11 353 km
 Ibadan – Rio De Janeiro   6 066 km
 Ibadan – Sydney   15 595 km
 Ibadan – Tokyo   13 360 km
 Ibadan – Prague   4 832 km




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