2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: African Geography

Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos as seen from Ikoyi Harbor.
Lagos as seen from Ikoyi Harbour.
Map of Nigeria showing the location of Lagos in the lower southwest corner of Nigeria.
Map of Nigeria showing the location of Lagos in the lower southwest corner of Nigeria.
Coordinates: 6°27′11″N, 3°23′45″E
Province Lagos State
Governor Bola Tinubu
 - City 787 km²
 - Land 614 km²
 - Water 173.14 km²
 - City (2005) Between 10.5-15 million
 - Density 1,380/km²
 - Urban 11,700,000
 - Metro 11,700,000
Time zone CET ( UTC+1)
 - Summer ( DST) CEST ( UTC+1)

Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria. As only two censuses (in 1972 and 1991) have been taken since independence, estimates of its population vary considerably, but generally range from 10 to 15.5 million people, making it one of the most populous cities in Africa.

Lagos has grown from a small Yoruba settlement, and undergone periods of domination by two European powers, to become the commercial and population centre of Nigeria.

It is also the former capital city of Nigeria; it has since been replaced by Abuja. Abuja city officially gained its status as the capital city of Nigeria on 12 December 1991; although Lagos was stripped of this title much earlier, it acted as de facto capital until around 1991.


Lagos today continues to be a commercial center, as it has been for much of its history
Lagos today continues to be a commercial centre, as it has been for much of its history

Lagos was once a big head Yoruba settlement of Awori people called Eko, whose name stemmed from either Eko (Cassava farm) a result of the conquest of that region by the Benin Empire or Edo Empire (1470-1897). The present day Lagos state has a higher percent of this sub-group who actually migrated to the area from Isheri along the Ogun river. Throughout history, it was home to a number of warring tribes who had all settled in the area. During its early history, it also saw periods of rule by the Kingdom of Benin. Portuguese explorer Sequeira visited the area in 1472 , naming the area around the city Lagos, meaning lakes. From 1704-1851 it served as a major centre of the slave trade. In 1841 Oba Akitoye ascended on to the throne of Lagos and tried to bring an end to slave trading by placing a ban on the act. Lagos merchants, most notably Madam Tinubu, resisted the ban, deposed the king and installed his brother Oba Kosoko. Oba Akitoye while on exile met with the British who had banned slave trading in 1807, and got their backing to regain his throne. In 1851 he was reinstalled as the Oba of Lagos.

Lagos was formally annexed as a British colony in 1861. This had the dual effect of crushing the slave trade and establishing British superiority over palm and other trades. The remainder of modern-day Nigeria was seized in 1886, and when the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria was established in 1914 Lagos was declared its capital. It continued to be its capital when Nigeria gained its independence from Britain in 1960. Lagos experienced rapid growth throughout the 1960s and 1970s as a result of Nigeria's economic boom prior to the Biafran War. Lagos was the capital of Nigeria from 1914 - 1991; it was stripped of this title when the Federal Capital Territory was established at the purpose-built city of Abuja. However, most government functions (especially the head of state) stayed in Lagos for a time since Abuja was still under construction. In 1991, the head of state and other government functions finally moved to the newly built capital in a mass exodus. The change resulted in Lagos losing some prestige and economic leverage.

Past Oba (of Kings) of Lagos

  • King Ado
  • King Gabaro ( 1720- 1730)
  • Eletu Kekere ( 1730- 1734)
  • King Akinsemoyin ( 1734- 1779)
  • Erelu Kuti(female)
  • King Ologun Kutere
  • King Adele ( 1806- 1813), ( 1834- 1836)
  • King Eshinlokun ( 1836- 1841)
  • Oba Idewu Ojulari
  • King Oluwole
  • King Akintoye
  • Oba Kosoko
  • Oba Adeyinka Oyekan

Oba Rilwan Akiolu


The climate in Lagos is similar to that of the rest of southern Nigeria. There are two rainy seasons, with the heaviest rains falling from April to July and a weaker rainy season in October and November. There is a brief relatively dry spell in August and September and a longer dry season from December to March. Monthly rainfall between May and July averages over 300 mm (12 in), whilst in August and September it is down to 75 mm (3 inches) and in January as low as 35 mm (1.5 inches). The main dry season is accompanied by harmattan winds from the Sahara Desert, which between December and early February can be quite strong. According to BBC Weather, the average tempearature in January is 27 ºC (79 ºF) and for July it is 25 ºC (77 ºF). On average the hottest month is March; with a mean temperature of 29C (84F); whilst July is the coolest month .


Lagos consists of a large lagoon (hence its namesake) and an archipelago of large islands in the lagoon. The three major islands are Lagos Island, Ikoyi, and Victoria. The commercial centre remains Lagos Island, which is connected to the mainland by three large bridges: Eko Bridge, Carter Bridge, and Third Mainland Bridge. Ikoyi and Victoria island are closely connected to Lagos Island. The main docks are in Apapa directly opposite Lagos Island. The rest of the city is built on the African mainland. Districts on the mainland include Ebute-Meta, Surulere, Yaba (Lagos) (site of the University of Lagos), Mushin, Maryland and Ikeja, site of Murtala Mohammed International Airport.

Law and Government

Unlike many major first world cities, but like many African and developing country cities, Lagos does not have its own mayor or council, but is instead governed as part of a regular Nigerian state. Since 1967, Lagos is part of Lagos State. Lagos was the headquarters of Lagos State until 1976, when this was moved to Ikeja.

Lagos State covers some of the area beyond the city's borders, such as Badagri, but its primary focus is on Lagos proper. The state of Lagos is split into 5 districts. The state is responsible for utilities including roads and transportation, power, water, health, and education.

The city is also home to the High Court of the Lagos State Judiciary, housed in an old colonial building on Lagos Island.


Lagos is Nigeria's leading port. The Port of Lagos, operated by the Nigerian Port Authority is split into three main sections: Lagos port, Apapa Port and Tin Can Port, all located on the Gulf of Guinea. The port features a railhead.

The port handles imports of consumer goods, foodstuffs, motor vehicles, machinery, and industrial raw materials. Its export trade in timber and agricultural products such as cacao and groundnuts has declined since the early 1970s, although the port has seen growing amounts of crude oil exported, with export figures rising between 1997 and 2000. Oil and petroleum products provide 20% of GDP and 95% of foreign exchange earnings in Nigeria as a whole.

Lagos is also Nigeria's commercial centre. Many of the country's largest banks and financial institutions are located here. Many of the country's well known " Nigerian Scams" are conducted here as well.

More than half of Nigeria's industrial capacity is located in Lagos's mainland suburbs, particularly in the Ikeja industrial estate. A wide range of manufactured goods are produced in the city, including machinery, motor vehicles, electronic equipment, chemicals, beer, processed food, and textiles.


Third Mainland Bridge
Third Mainland Bridge
A highway on Lagos Island
A highway on Lagos Island

Ferries and highways link the parts of the city together. However, transport links within Lagos are congested, due in part to the geography of the city, as well as its explosive population growth.

The city is filled with poor quality buses and motorcycles that are a vital part of Lagos' Transport Network. They are notorious for crashes and robberies and it is recommended that tourists do not travel on them.

An agency called Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) has been created to solve the transportation problems in Lagos. A chain of salt-water lagoons runs west to Badagry and also east toward Ogun State. The Bus Rapid Transit scheme is set to be launched on the 4th of June 2006.The Lagos - Ibadan expressway and the Lagos - Abeokuta expressway are the major arterial routes in the city and serve as an inter-state highway to Ibadan, Oyo state and Abeokuta, Ogun State respectively. The Lagos - Ibadan expressway also serves as a Christian highway because every first friday of every month, the highway links over 500,000 Lagosians with the kilometer 42 Redeemed Christian Church camp.

Murtala Mohammed International Airport serves the city.


As no census has been completed in Lagos since 1991, definitive demographic information is hard to come by. There is clear evidence of startling population growth in Lagos. A census is being taken and compiled (as of March 2006) for the whole of Nigeria, even imposing curfews to ensure accurate counts. This will provide the most accurate numbers to date for Lagos. This census will not include religious or tribal affilitaion, as these are controversial issues with two major religions (Islam and Christianity) and three major ethnicities.

Lagos is, by most estimates, one of the fastest-growing cities in the world. The United Nations predicts that the city's metropolitan area, which had only about 290,000 inhabitants in 1950, will exceed 20 million by 2010. This will make Lagos one of the world's five largest cities.

In Nigeria as a whole, there are more than 250 ethnic groups.


The Lagos Mainland is the center of most of the population that commute to work on Lagos Island which in some respects is the economic nerve centre of Nigeria. The area is also particularly famous for its music and nightlife, notably in areas around Yaba and Surulere, as well as the National Stadium Complex. Other areas of the mainland include the middle class, slums, and suburbs of Ebute-Meta, Surulere, Yaba (site of the University of Lagos), Mushin, and Ikeja.

Lagos Island is the nerve centre of the city and contains many of the largest markets in Lagos, its central business district, the central mosque, and the oba's palace. Though largely derelict, Tinubu Square on Lagos Island is a site of historical importance; it was here that the Amalgamation ceremony that unified the North and South took place in 1914.

Business District Victoria Island
Business District Victoria Island

Ikoyi island, situated to the east of Lagos Island houses the headquarters of the state government and all other government buildings. It also has many hotels, and one of Africa's largest golf courses. Originally a middle class neighbourhood, in recent years, it has become a fashionable enclave for the upper middle class to the upper class.

A neighborhood in Victoria Island
A neighbourhood in Victoria Island

Victoria Island, situated to the south of Lagos Island, is a wealthy enclave that is one of the homes to Nigeria's ruling elite and the country's wealthiest. It also boasts a sizable commercial district including Nigeria's largest malls and movie theatres. 90% of Nigeria's foreign expatriate community lives there.


Music & Film industry

Lagos is famous throughout West Africa for its music scene. Lagos has given birth to a variety of styles such as highlife, juju, fuji, and Afrobeat. In recent years Lagos has been the fore runner with African styled hip-hop branded Afrohip-hop.

Lagos is the centre of the famous Nigerian film industry, often referred to as ' Nollywood.' Many of the large film producers have offices in Surulere, Lagos, though there aren't any film studios in Nollywood, in the Hollywood sense. Idumota market on Lagos Island is the primary distribution centre. Also many films are shot in the Festac area of Lagos.

The cinemas are gradually losing their supporters to the movie industry. Yoruba films happen to be the most watched in the cinemas, followed by Indian films. Films are not premiered for a long period of time in the western sense, especially with Yoruba films. The English spoken films move directly from the studios to the market. The theatres on the other hand seem to be having their advent supporters, but little is heard about them maybe due to the level of publicity given.

The National Arts Theatre Iganmu is a National heritage.

Sport & Tourism

As in the rest of Nigeria, football is the most popular sport. The Nigeria Football Association (NFA) and the Lagos State Football Association (LAFA) are both based in Lagos. A prominent Lagos soccer club Julius Berger FC, members of the Nigerian Premier League; the team, owned by the Julius Berger Construction Company, is set to close in 2008, potentially leaving Lagos without a Premier League team.

The Nigerian national football team, also known as the Super Eagles, used to play almost all of their home games in Lagos; however, games are now split between the Surelere Stadium in Lagos and the larger, newer Abuja Stadium in Abuja, which may soon become the default home of the Super Eagles.

The Lagos State government features the Ministry of Youth, Sports & Social Development.

Lagos is not a common tourist destination, as it is primarily business-oriented and has a reputation for danger and squalor amongst many foreigners. However, some tourist attractions do exist, such as Oba's Palace. There are also several shopping malls, including the Falomo Shopping Centre. Visitors are also drawn to the musical heritage of Lagos, such as fuji music (see Music section).


Many residents of Lagos are poor, and live in slums such as Ajegunle, whilst there are districts of considerable wealth. Lagos, like many cities in developing countries has attracted many young entrepreneurs and families seeking a better life from throughout Nigeria and beyond.


The Lagos State Government operates state schools .

The education system is the 6-3-3-4 system; the system is run throughout the country. The levels are Primary, Junior Secondary School (JSS), Senior Secondary School (SSS), and university. Every child has right to basic education, especially for the first 6 years. The level of poverty may determine how far the child will go after this.

Colleges and Universities

Lagos is home to four universities:

  • University of Lagos
  • Pan-African University
  • Lagos State University
  • Cetep University

The University of Lagos(UNILAG) is a large institution dating from 1962, with over 35,000 students. It comprises 13 faculties, run by over 4,000 staff.

The Pan-African University is primarily a business school, offering two MBA programs. Founded in 1996 and awarded University status in 2002, it consists of the Lagos Business School and of Enterprise Development Services. The University also places some emphasis on the study of art.

Yaba College of Technology (now Lagos City University) was the first higher institution in the country, and one of the first in Africa.

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