Where to stay, shop and eat in the Nation’s Largest Metropolis
Lagos (/ˈleɪɡɒs/ LAY-gos) is a port city and the most populous city in Nigeria. Officially, the population of Lagos was last recorded at 7,937,932. Lagos is the second fastest growing city in Africa and the seventh fastest in the world. Lagos was originally inhabited by the Awori subgroup of the Yoruba people. Under the leadership of their Olofin, the Awori moved to an island now called Iddo and then to the larger Lagos Island. In the 15th century, the Awori settlement was attacked by the Benin Empire following a quarrel, and the island became a Benin war-camp called “Eko” under Oba Orhogba, the Oba of Benin at the time.
Lagos was a war camp for members of the Benin Empire, who referred to it as Eko. The Yoruba still use the name Eko to refer to Lagos. Lagos, which means “lakes”, was a name given to the settlement by the Portuguese. The present day Lagos state has a high percentage of Awori, who migrated to the area from Isheri along the Ogun river. Throughout history, it was home to a number of warring ethnic groups who had settled in the area. During its early settlement, it also saw periods of rule by the Benin Kingdom.
Lagos experienced rapid growth throughout the 1960s and 1970s as a result of Nigeria’s economic boom prior to the Nigerian Civil War. Lagos was the capital of Nigeria from 1914 up to 1991. The city was stripped of its status when the Federal Capital Territory was established at the purpose-built city of Abuja. On November 14, 1991, the Presidency and other federal government functions were finally relocated to the new capital city of Abuja.
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Several international airlines such as British Airways, KLM, SwissAir, Delta, Lufthansa fly into the Lagos International Airport daily. The Airport is located on the mainland in Ikeja, there are taxis readily available to take you where ever you wish. The fares are negotiable, you can drive a good bargain, however for safety reasons don’t haggle for too long. Lagos Island, Ikoyi and Victoria Island are about 30 minutes away, when the traffic is light.
My City Lagos
This section features comments and articles by Lagos residents…
By: Dolapo O.
I have been a Lagos City resident for over 40 years!
That’s a long time from the crime-free, stable electric power inexpensive coin currency 1970s to the era of massive Naira devaluation where our currency was devalued from
Lagos is cosmopolitan, a melting pot of all the diverse 500 ethnic groups that make up Nigeria. The indigenous Lagosians today probably do not constitute up to 10% of the City population though in the village suburbs, Badagry ,Ikorodu and Epe, probably still constitute about 50% of the local population. So our dear Mega City of nearly 20 million residents and growing every day,non ethnic Lagosians probably account for about 17million.
This is not an accident because Lagos with its busy seaport, airport and border towns remains the commercial capital of Nigeria and headquarters over 95% of the Blue Chip finance and non-finance companies that make up the economy. It is estimated that over 40% of the nation’s economic activity moves through Lagos the rest split between Portharcourt, Kano and Abuja, the seat of Government.
Personally I prefer Lagos to Abuja probably simply because I have only known Lagos as home.I am told Abuja is better laid out though much more expensive and is yet to achieve even 20% of the critical mass of Lagos economic and social activity.It is the capital and still known as a civil service driven city.
Lagos traffic grid lock is legendary. Residents respond to the traffic by a mixture of leaving for work extra early, 5am ish to beat the mass morning migration to Lagos Island. Others like me can read the traffic directions and either commute outside those peak periods and fix meetings/appointments accordingly, where possible. But the Lagos State Government has made gigantic strides by introducing a novel and highly successful mass transit bus scheme known as BRT fashioned like the UK with dedicated bus lanes and strict enforcement. This network of nearly 2,000 buses today has brought enormous relief to Lagosians. There was also a recently introduced Traffic Law which is so harsh on erring motorists with stiff penalties forcing a high level of compliance. Unpopular law but appears effective.Just what Lagosians need.
Finally there is a new and highly popular Lagos Traffic Radio channel 96.1 frequency where commuters and Traffic police called LASTMA phone in and are consulted on areas of traffic gridlock, advising alternative routes, accident announcements allowing the authorities to respond swiftly. Obviously, people are "thinking" for Lagos.
Lagos has indeed metamorphosed over the past 30 years. The process of Modernization which saw the facilities inherited from the colonial British being overstretched, not maintained and grossly inadequate to deal with the phenomenal population explosion in Lagos.
The United Nations have forecasted Lagos to become one of the world’s 10 most populous cities by 2025,a Mega City and so recent governments have slowly restarted a deliberate and informed process of modernization essentially seeking to provide housing, security, transportation, healthcare delivery ,education and youth development commensurate with today’s Lagos. It is slow, requires significant funding and with the high corruption quotient such initiatives are saddled with, I believe the progress is steady and far reaching.
The government has embarked on significant transportation reforms with rail, road and water transportation projects all ongoing. Every Lagosian has felt the impact one way or the other. Security in particular is a lot better than in the 90s and there is a joke that all the robbers have been driven out of Lagos to the neighboring states where law enforcement was not as potent or well-funded.