Nigeria is Africa’s most populated country. Lagos is Nigeria’s largest city. It lies in the South West of the country on the coast of the Gulf of Guinea close to Nigeria’s border with Benin.
A map to show the location of Lagos in Nigeria
The city was originally a small fishing village on an island until Portuguese settlers arrived in the 15th Century. In the early twentieth century it became the capital city of Nigeria until 1991 when the government moved to Abuja.
The population of Lagos increases by approximately 600,000 each year. The Lagos State Government estimates the population of Lagos to be 17.5 million, although this number has been disputed by the Nigerian Government and found to be unreliable by the National Population Commission of Nigeria, which put the population at over 21 million in 2016. Regardless of which is most accurate, Lagos has the highest population of any city in Africa.
As the population of Laos has grown so too has the physical size of the city. The original settlement consisted of Lagos Island. By the 1960s the city had expanded north into the mainland. Urban growth occurred along the line of the railway. A population boom occurred during the 1970s as the result of the growth of the oil industry. Many thousands of people moved to the city seeking jobs in this industry. Urban growth continued during the 1980s and 1990s. Find out more about the growth of Lagos.
From above the city looks like any modern city. The city centre skyline is dominated by modern, high-rise offices, surrounded by miles of sprawling suburbs, linked by busy roads.
At street level the air is filled with noise from generators, that power the city owing to the unreliable energy supply, motorbikes and yellow minibus taxis.
Despite Lagos no longer being the capital city of Nigeria it retains its importance as the centre of trade and commerce. 80% of Nigeria’s industry is located within Lagos. It remains the main financial centre of West Africa. The city has an international airport and an important sea port.