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For other uses, see Zaria (disambiguation).
LGA and city
Gate to the palace of the emir of Zazzau
Gate to the palace of the emir of Zazzau
Flag of Zaria
Zaria is located in Nigeria
Coordinates: 11°04′N 7°42′E / 11.067°N 7.700°E / 11.067; 7.700
Country  Nigeria
State Kaduna State
 • Total 300 km2 (100 sq mi)
Population (2006 Census)
 • Total 408,198
 • Density 1,400/km2 (3,500/sq mi)
Time zone WAT (UTC+01:00)

Zaria is a major city in Kaduna State in Northern Nigeria, as well as being a Local Government Area. Formerly known as Zazzau, it was one of the original seven Hausa city-states. The 2006 Census population was estimated as 408,198. the town is home to Zazzau Emirate.


Guard at the palace of the emir

Zaria, initially known as Zazau, was also the capital of the Hausa kingdom of Zazzau.[1] However, human settlement predates the rise of Zazzau, as the region, like some of its neighbors, had a history of sedentary Hausa settlement, with institutional but pre-capitalist[citation needed] market exchange and farming.

In the late 1450s, Islam arrived in Zaria by the way of its sister Habe cities, Kano and Katsina. Along with Islam, trade also flourished between the cities as traders brought camel caravans filled with salt in exchange for slaves and grain.[1] Between the fifteenth and sixteenth century the kingdom became a tributary state of the Songhai Empire. In 1805 it was captured by the Fulani during the Fulani Jihad. British forces led by Frederick Lugard took the city in 1901.

A French hostage of the Islamist group Ansaru, held captive at Zaria,[2] managed to escape in 2013 and reach a police station in the city.


Children playing in one of the streets of Zaria

The old part of the city, known as Birnin Zazzau[3] or Zaria-City, was originally surrounded by walls and fortress, which now have been mostly removed.[4] The Emir's palace is located in the old city. In the old city and the adjacent Tudun Wada neighbourhood people typically reside in traditional adobe compounds. These two neighborhoods are predominantly occupied by the indigenous Hausa.[3] The neighborhoods of Samaru and Sabon Gari are predominantly occupied by Nigerians of southern origin, such as the Igbo.[3] The largest marketplace is in Sabon Gari.[5] Other more recent neighborhoods include: Danmagaji/Wusasa, PZ, Kongo, GRA-Zaria, Hanwa, Bassawa, Lowcost Kofan-Gayan and Shikka.[4]

Transport and economy[edit]

Zaria's economy is primarily based on agriculture. Staples are guinea corn and millet, and cash crops include cotton, groundnuts and tobacco.[1] The city is considered by some to be a main center of Hausa agriculture[who?]. Not only is Zaria a market town for the surrounding area, it is the home of numerous artisans, from traditional crafts like leather work, dyeing and cap making, to tinkers, printshops and furniture makers.[3] Zaria is also the center of a textile industry that for over 200 years has made elaborately hand-embroidered robes that are worn by men throughout Nigeria and West Africa.[6]

Because Zaria is north of the rail junction at Kaduna, it has equal rail access to the seaports at Lagos and Port Harcourt. However, currently only the railway between Lagos and Kano is functional, as the eastern line of Nigeria's rail network is not operational. This means that Zaria currently has rail access to Lagos and Kano to the north, but not Port Harcourt.[7][8]

From 1914 to 1927, Zaria was the break-of-gauge junction station for the Bauchi Light Railway to the tin mines at Jos.


Senate building of the Ahmadu Bello University

Zaria is home to Ahmadu Bello University, the largest university in Nigeria and the second largest on the African continent. The institution is very prominent in the fields of Agriculture, Science, Finance, Medicine and Law. Zaria is also the base for the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology.[9] National Research Institute for Chemical Technology.[10] Zaria is also home to Barewa College. The school is known for the large number of elites from the region that passed through the school's academic buildings and counts among its alumni, five of whom were at one time Nigerian Heads of State, including the late president Umaru Musa Yar'Adua(and we have two other famous schools in wusasa,where the former head of state Yakubu Gowon reside which is St. Bartholomews school and Science school kufena formerly known as St Pauls College) .

Notable births and residents[edit]

Notable births and current and former residents of Zaria include:

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c "The Britannica Encyclopedia". Retrieved 2007-02-04. 
  2. ^ Le Monde, 13th March 2015
  3. ^ a b c d Gihring, Thomas (1984) "Intraurban Activity Patterns among Entrepreneurs in a West African Setting" Human Geography (Geografiska Annaler Series B) 66(1): pp. 17–27, page 19
  4. ^ a b "Welcome to Zaria" Biotechnology Society of Nigeria (BSN) at Ahmadu Bello University
  5. ^ Gihring, Thomas (1984) "Intraurban Activity Patterns among Entrepreneurs in a West African Setting" Human Geography (Geografiska Annaler Series B) 66(1): pp. 17–27, page 20
  6. ^ Maiwada, Salihu and Renne, Elisha P. (2007) "New Technologies of Embroidered Robe Production and Changing Gender Roles in Zaria, Nigeria, 1950–2005" Textile History 38(1): pp. 25-58, page 25
  7. ^ "Can Nigeria's renovated railway unite north and south?". BBC News. February 13, 2013. Retrieved December 11, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Trains in Nigeria: A slow but steady new chug". The Economist. February 9, 2013. Retrieved March 4, 2014. 
  9. ^ "About Us". Nigerian College of Aviation Technology. Retrieved March 27, 2010. 
  10. ^ "National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT, Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT), National Research Institute for Chemical Technology): About Us". Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved June 27, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Zaria at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 11°04′00″N 07°42′00″E / 11.06667°N 7.70000°E / 11.06667; 7.70000