port town and capital of Rivers state, southern Nigeria. It lies along the Bonny River (an eastern distributary of the Niger River) 41 miles (66 km) upstream from the Gulf of Guinea. Founded in 1912 in an area traditionally inhabited by the Ijo people, it began to serve as a port (named for Lewis Harcourt, then colonial secretary) after the opening of the rail link to the Enugu coalfields in 1916. Now one of the nation's largest ports, its modern deepwater (23 feet [7 metres]) facilities handle the export of palm oil, palm kernels, and timber from the surrounding area, coal from Anambra state, tin and columbite from the Jos Plateau, peanuts (groundnuts) from the northern states, and, since 1958, petroleum from fields in the eastern Niger River delta. Port Harcourt has bulk storage facilities for both palm oil and petroleum. In the 1970s the port was enlarged with new facilities at nearby Onne.
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