Rivers State, named after the many rivers that border its territory, was part of the Oil Rivers Protectorate from 1885 till 1893, when it became part of the Niger Coast Protectorate.

In 1900 the region was merged with the chartered territories of the Royal Niger Company to form the colony of Southern Nigeria.

The state was formed in 1967 with the split of the Eastern Region of Nigeria. Until 1996 the state contained the area now known as Bayelsa State.

The inland part of the state consists of tropical rainforest; towards the coast the typical Niger Delta environment features many mangrove swamps.

The Rivers of Rivers State

The state has many rivers, some of which include:

Santa Barbara River

Bonny River

Andoni River

New Calabar River

Nun River

River Orashi

San Bartholomeo River

Sombreiro River

St Nicholas River

Otamiriochie River

Ogochie River

Imo Miriochie River

Oloshi River

Opobo Channel River

River’s Economical Culture

Natural Resources

Rivers State has maintained its importance as a leading supplier of wealth to the nation for centuries.

In 2007, the state ranked 2nd nationwide with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $21.07 billion and a per capita income of $3,965.

The state is famous for its vast reserves of crude oil and natural gas. It was perhaps the richest and most important section of the African zone of the British Empire.

Rivers State has two major oil refineries, two major seaports, airports, and various industrial estates spread across the land.

More than 60 per cent of the country’s output of crude oil is produced in the state. Other natural resources found within its boundaries are silica sand, glass sand and clay.


Prior to the discovery of oil in commercial quantity in 1951, Agriculture was the primary occupation of the people of Rivers State.

Around 19th century when the industrial revolution reached its peak in England, the area was then referred to as Oil Rivers Protectorate, this was due to its abundant palm oil and kernel which basically constituted the main revenue source of the country.

In a sample survey carried out by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, about 40 per cent of the rural inhabitants were committed to farming in 1983.

Rivers State is one of the leading states in the production of yam, cassava, cocoyam, maize, rice and beans.

About 39 per cent (760,000 hectares) of the state’s total land mass, particularly in the upland area, is suitable for cultivation.

Major cash crops produced are oil palm products, rubber, coconut, raffia palm and jute. Other crops grown for food include, vegetables, melon, pineapples, mango, pepper, banana and plantain.

The fishing industry is an important sector in Rivers State. Besides being lucrative, fishing is also a favorite past time activity.

There are approximately 270 species of fish existing; with many artisanal fishermen in the riverine areas.

The state provides valuable seafood such as crabs, oysters, shrimps and sea snails among others. Vertebrates like birds, mammals and reptiles are also found in the region.

Today, Rivers State is one of the 36 states of Nigeria. According to census data released in 2006, the state has a population of 5,185,400, making it the sixth-most populous state in the country.

Its capital and largest city, Port Harcourt, is economically significant as the centre of Nigeria’s oil industry.

Rivers State is bounded on the South by the Atlantic Ocean, to the North by Imo, Abia and Anambra States, to the East by Akwa Ibom State and to the West by Bayelsa and Delta states.

It is home to many indigenous ethnic groups: Ikwerre, Ibani, Opobo, Eleme, Okrika, and Kalabari, Etche, Ogba, Ogoni, Engenni, Obolo and others. The people from Rivers State are known as “Riverians”.

Rivers State is currently consisted of 23 Local Government Areas, all of which handle local administration, under an elected Chairman. And each of the local government areas has its own administrative seat.

Author: Taofeek Ayeyemi