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Getting There
Getting Around
Public Safety
Health Care
Parks and Recreation
Performing Arts
Libraries and Museums
Holidays and Festivals
Famous Citizens
For Further Study

Lagos City, Lagos State, Nigeria, Africa

Founded: As "Oko" (farmland), precise date unknown; later corrupted as "Èkó." Christened Lagos, probably after lagoon, by Portuguese traders sometime after the mid-15th century.
Incorporated: October 1, 1963.
Location: Lagos State, Southwest Nigeria, Africa
Time Zone: Noon = 11:00 am GMT = 6:00 am US Eastern Standard Time
Ethnic Composition: About two-thirds Yorùbá; remainder mixed from within Nigeria and outside
Elevation: Generally at or below sea level, some parts already under threat
Coastline: 100 miles
Climate: Tropical; rainy season May through October; dry season November through April
Annual Mean Temperature: 7079°F [2326°C] minimum and 7890°F [2832°C] maximum
Government: City-state; town clerk-city council; appointed administrators
Weights and Measures: Standard metric
Monetary Units: Standard Nigerian Naira equals 100 Kobo ; 100 Naira = US$ 1.00 as of January 2000
Telephone Area Codes: 234

1. Introduction

Also known as "Èkó" in popular contexts, Lagos has been Nigeria's premier city since at least 1861. Its role as entrêpot (distribution center) to the West African coast assured by geography, Lagos attracted Portuguese traders and had become a major center for the slave trade by early seventeenth century. From 1851, the British bombarded the city, seeking to expel Portuguese slave dealers, abolish the slave trade altogether, and establish legitimate trade in its place. In the process, the British set up their own colonial administration and finally annexed the city in 1861. The former city-state would soon become a bridgehead to the conquest of the territories that became Nigeria. In 1914, Lagos was named Nigeria's political capital, retaining that status until 1991 when Abuja formally became Nigeria's new federal capital territory. It has since remained Nigeria's capital, except in name.

Lagos is Nigeria's most cosmopolitan city; it is probably also the most over-populated. At the first census in 1871, the city was home to just over 28,000 people; by 1952, the population stood at over 252,000. In the 1970s, estimates ranged widely from near 600,000 to 1,500,000. These figures are not necessarily accurate, but they do suggest that Lagos is a city of immigrants. From early settlers through slave raiders to colonial officials, the city and its mainland towns had always been a place to move to in search of improved life chances, political power, better living standards, and exposure to the economic opportunities offered by the larger world. One of the city's aliases, "Èkó ilé ogbón," reflects these themes. It translates literally to "Ékó fountain of common sense," but the metaphorical point is that doom awaits the visitor to the city who is not streetwise or the new migrant slow to adjust to urban and competitive lifestyles in greater Lagos.

2. Getting There

Lagos can be reached by air, water, and land transport. However, Nigeria's railroad system, built from the mid-1880s onwards, has not been expanded substantially since. The passenger-carrying ocean liner is no longer popular either. The two best ways to reach Lagos are thus by air and by road.


Three main bridges connect the city with the mainland. The first is the Carter Bridge, built in 1901. Èkó and Third Mainland bridges have been constructed only since the 1970s. All three provide easy and relatively fast access to the island. In general Lagos has by far the highest road density in Nigeria.

Lagos Population Profile

City Proper

Population: 1,200,000
Area: 69.7 sq km (27 sq mi)
Ethnic composition: About 67% Yorùbá; remainder cosmopolitan, including from outside Nigeria
Nicknames: " Èkó ar'omi sa l'egbelegbe " Èkó, The Island City; " Èkó ilé ogbón " Fountain of Common Sense; Gateway to the Federal Republic of Nigeria; Center of Excellence

Metropolitan Area

Population: 13,488,000
Description: Èbúté Métta, Surùlérè, Àpápá, Yábã, Mushin, Oshòdì, Ìkejà, Bàrígà
Area: 264.18 sq km (102 sq mi)
World population rank 1: 7
Percentage of national population 2: 10.5%
Average yearly growth rate: 5.4%
Ethnic composition: 7080% Yorùbá; 15% Nigerians; remainder non-Africans

  1. The Lagos metropolitan area's rank among the world's urban areas.
  2. The percent of Nigeria's total population living in the Lagos metropolitan area.

Bus and Railroad Service

There are no train services in the city, the closest train station being at Ìddó, on the bridgehead to the island. The automobile is thus the best means by which to get to the city. There are traffic tailbacks, or "go slow" in Nigerian popular language, in part because large numbers of people and vehicles compete for space. In the city some major streets are estimated to take up to 15,000 pedestrians and 7,500 vehicles per hour. Commercial vehicles, both buses and taxicabs, are available in reasonable numbermany in bad shape physically. Parking space can be difficult to find.


The Lagos airport lies northwest of the city. Also known as the Murtala Muhammed Airport, it is also a major hub for flights within West Africa and between the sub-region and Europe.

Cargo traffic averaged nearly 725,760 metric tons (800,000 tons) per month in JanuaryMarch 1980. In the same months during 1983, over half of all outbound passengers in Nigeria's airports (total 498,313) used the Lagos airport. Its average monthly share of inbound passengers (monthly average 190,000) was about 47 percent. In 1986, about 1.1 million international passengers used the Lagos airport; this was 85 percent of the total for all three international airports. The figures for domestic passengers are 2.7 million, or 72 percent of the total. The Lagos airport is thus Nigeria's busiest point for international and local air travel.


For long until the eighteenth century, the Lagos creek system provided the only outlet to sea-borne trade on the African West Coast. By 1907, construction work on moles for the Àpápá harbor had begun using rock brought in by rail from Abéòkúta. Its extension to the northern city of Kano in 1912 assured Lagos' long-term role as important entrêpot to Nigeria.

Lagos ports handle for four-fifths of Nigeria's imports and 70 percent of exports. The Àpápá port is estimated to be the fifth busiest in West Africa.

3. Getting Around

Lagos City is a picturesque mix of the modern and the traditional, with skyscrapers and glass houses sitting alongside old residential buildings. Construction activity makes parts of the city seem rather poorly planned physically.

Bus and Commuter Rail Service

Mini-and midi-buses, as well as larger lorries (motortrucks), known as molue, are the most widely used means of transport. The Lagos City Council owned stock in a private transport company until 1974 when the Lagos State Transport Corporation took over its operations. Despite large-scale public investment, commercial vehicles have been and remain largely privately owned. In the late 1970s, according to survey estimates, about 53 percent of all workers depended on the bus to get to their workplaces; one-fifth or 20 percent commuted by private automobile; another 20 percent walked to work while less than one percent traveled to work by train or water transport. The number of private cars has increased over time; in 1960, 8,800 licensed cars existed in the city; between 1970 and 1974, over 42,000 cars were registered. In 1985, nearly 20,000 minibuses, 6,000 midi-buses, and 30,000 taxis were estimated to run in metropolitan Lagos.

Bulk goodsindustrial material, foodstuff, and export producehave traditionally been transported by truck and train; in recent times, the railways have all but paled into insignificance in its share of business in this sector. Still, the trains have often provided very cheap, alternative transport for people commuting to Àpápá and Yábã from high-density residential areas, such as Mushin, Oshòdì, Ìkejà, and Agége. A metro conceived in the 1980s has yet to be built. Ferries run between Marina and Àpápá and from Victoria Island to Tarkwa Bay.

City Fact Comparison
Population of urban area113,488,00010,772,0002,688,00012,033,000
Date the city was foundedc. 1450AD 969753 BC723 BC
Daily costs to visit the city2
Hotel (single occupancy)$232$193$172$129
Meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner)$57$56$59$62
Incidentals (laundry, dry cleaning, etc.)$14$14$15$16
Total daily costs$303$173$246$207
Major Newspapers3
Number of newspapers serving the city8132011
Largest newspaperDaily Times/Sunday Times/Evening TimesAkhbar El Yom/Al AkhbarLa RepubblicaRenmin Ribao
Circulation of largest newspaper400,0001,159,339754,9303,000,000
Date largest newspaper was established1925194419761948
1United Nations population estimates for the year 2000.
2The maximum amount the U.S. Government reimburses its employees for business travel. The lodging portion of the allowance is based on the cost for a single room at a moderately-priced hotel. The meal portion is based on the costs of an average breakfast, lunch, and dinner including taxes, service charges, and customary tips. Incidental travel expenses include such things as laundry and dry cleaning.
3David Maddux, ed. Editor&Publisher International Year Book. New York: The Editor&Publisher Company, 1999.


Organized commercial sightseeing tours of the city are rare, yet the island is full of historical sites. A major monument is the Iga Ìdúngànràn, official residence of the Oba of Lagos on Upper King Street. Another is The Old Secretariat, built in 1906 to house colonial offices. It still stands a short distance from the Lagos Island Hospital.

On the Marina stands NITEL House, Africa's tallest building and home to some magnificent sculpture. Not far off is the State House where colonial governors lived until 1960. The General Post Office building and the Anglican Church, built in the eighteenth century, are worth seeing too. The NEPA building has a bronze statue of Shàngó, god of thunder, before it. The Elder Dempster building, originally the main office block for the passenger and freight steamship service to London and the West African coast, also stands on the Marina.

The Tafawa Balewa Square now stands where once was the racecourse. Nearby are King's College and old Supreme Court buildings. There is also Lagos City Hall, seat of the island's local government. Nearly every street on the island symbolizes history; the interested sightseer cannot want for insights on life past.

On the mainland, the National Theatre, main venue of the Second World Black and African Festival held in 1977, stands out among many other monuments. An exhibition on Nigeria's political history runs permanently.

4. People

The city's population estimates range from over 500,000 to 1,500,000; the number for Greater Lagos is estimated at 6,000,000 (1990). Population densities can also be as high as 20,000 per square mile in some places.

Over two-thirds or 70 percent of the city's population are Yorùbá-speaking, with the remainder divided between non-Yorùbá speaking Nigerians, Africans, and non-African residents. The Yorùbás are also the majority group in Greater Lagos though long-term residence and the urge to partake in available economic opportunities may have encouraged assimilation on the part of non-Yorùbá immigrants. Ajégúnlè near Àpápá is the only mainland town in Greater Lagos where ethnic Yorùbás are a numerical minority.

5. Neighborhoods

The original settlement comprised what is now known as the City and Ìkòyí, both archipelagos divided by a man-made canal. They are bordered to the north by Èbúté Métta, Yábã, and Surulere, three mainland suburbs that are home to railway workshops and Army Ordinance Depot, as well as more recently built edifices, such as the University of Lagos and various private industrial and commercial establishments.

What is now Greater Lagos used to be part of Western Region of Nigeria. Among the towns are the high-brow residential areas, like Surulere and Ìkejà, as well as densely populated Mushin, Agége, Oshòdì, and Ajégúnlè.

6. History

Lagos was settled at various times by hunters and fishermen from the Àwórì sub-nationality. Originally based in Iseri on the Ògùn River about 20 miles from the island, the initial wave of settlers led by Arómiré ("the one that becomes personable at the sight of a river"), established a presence in Ìddó and Èbúté Métta. Arómiré also grew vegetables, especially pepper, on a site where Iga Ìdúngànràn, the palace or official residence of the Oba of Lagos now stands. Iga Ìdúngànràn is an Àwórì term meaning house on pepper farm. The palace is thus not only an important symbol of the historical traditions of Lagos; its name also helps keep alive the site's association with vegetable farming by Arómiré, the city's first settler.

From these bases the Àwórì settlers moved further south, towards the creeks and the sea. One major reason why they moved was because their increasing population created the need for more space. Another was safety and security. Yorùbáland, of which Lagos was a part, had become embroiled in the long-running wars involving ethnic groups, communities, chiefdoms, kingdoms, and other political units of the time. The island settlements faced war from the Ègbás and the Ìjèbús, both Yorùbá-speaking nationalities. The ancient Benin Empire, in present-day Edo State of Nigeria also invaded the island around the year 1600.

There are conflicting accounts of the latter episode. Some have argued that the Binis actually founded the Lagos monarchy or system of rulership, apparently in the image of Benin's. Ashipa, the first Oba of Lagos, was a Yorùbá chief but not a Lagosian. It is known also that between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Benin Empire extended as far as Porto-Novo, west of Lagos. The Oba of Benin did appoint viceroys or representatives on the island and approved all appointees to the office of Oba of Lagos. In return, Lagos Obas paid tribute to Oba of Benin in recognition of the latter's superior status. Other historians have insisted that the Oba of Benin waged war on the island for the same reasons wars were then prevalent.

One of these was the desire by reigning monarchs to expand control over weaker, less populous peoples or neighboring communities, kingdoms, and empires. Another reason concerned the new trans-Atlantic slave trade. For those who participated in the trade as middlemen, warfare did provide a quick and sure supply of war captives who could then be sold as slaves and shipped to the New World. By an estimate, some 500,000 people may have been sold as indentured slaves and shipped from Lagos to the Americas and the Carribean, in particular Bahia, Cuba, and St. Helena. Anyway, for Arómiré and early settlers of the island, moving further south away from the mainland towards the sea was a mechanism to escape the wars that ravaged Yorùbáland from the seventeenth century. The wars and the disruptions associated with them were to become a justification for imposing British colonial control first on the island and later on what is now Nigeria.

From the mid-nineteenth century, freed Yorùbá slaves started returning to Lagos in waves first from Brazil and then from Sierra Leone. In 1847, Oba Kòsókó of Lagos sent his close friend and adviser Chief Oshòdì Tápà to South America to invite slaves with Yorùbá ancestry to return home. The trip yielded results in 1851 when 130 expatriates arrived in Lagos. By 1861 when Lagos formally became a British colony, the number of returnees had risen to about 3,000. The Brazilian expatriates brought with them skills in masonry, carpentry, and tailoring, a strong Catholic faith, and extensive Portuguese cultural traits.

Sierra Leonean expatriates, or Saros, mainly of Ègbá origins in present-day Abéòkúta in Ògùn State of Nigeria, started returning to Lagos in trickles about 1838. The reigning Oba Kòsókó did very little to make them feel welcome, so it was not until 1852 after Oba Kòsókó had been deposed by the British and replaced by Oba Akíntóyè, that Saros returned to Lagos in large numbers. They numbered about 2,500 by 1861 and were granted land in a district on the island still known as Saro Town.

With their longer association with English missionaries, Sierra Leonean returnees appeared to enjoy higher standards of material comfort than Lagos indigenes. The Saros were devout Protestants and better educated in the formal sense too. These attributes were to stand them in good stead to play a leading role in the cultural life of Lagos; they also helped infuse their fatherland with a love of education. Their efforts were to help create a class of literate indigenes who led the fight for human dignity under British colonial rule and set the stage for the nationalist struggle that led to Nigeria's independence in 1960.

These main groups have since been joined by a more heterogeneous mix of immigrants from far and near. The Vaughan family has American ancestry while the Bickersteth family originated from Porto-Novo in present-day Benin Republic. Lagos is also home to people with Ghanaian ancestry. A much larger number have moved south over the years from other parts of Nigeriafor example, from the Nupe and Benin areas in addition to Yorùbá migrants, especially from Ìjèbú, Ègbá, and Badagry areas.

7. Government

The earliest attempt at modern formal government in the city occurred in 1899 with the establishment of a Sanitary Board. In 1917, a Townships Ordinance (or Law) established First, Second, and Third Class Townships. Lagos became a First Class Township and remained Nigeria's only such township for a long time. By 1950, after a series of extensions to the powers of the Township, the Lagos Local Government Ordinance created a fully elected Council, making Lagos a self-governing municipality with its own mayor. The office of mayor was abolished in 1953, and traditional members or chiefs were brought on board. In 1959, on the eve of Nigeria's independence, Lagos City was designated a Federal Territory administered by a Council comprising elected representatives, as well as traditional chiefs appointed by government.

Since the 1960s, the fortunes of city government had changed along with Nigeria's political climate; its administrative system has thus varied from elected council through sole administrators appointed by military governments.

8. Public Safety

Crime is endemic in Lagos. Property crimes, including armed burglaries and car theft, have been particularly high, fueled as much by large-scale unemployment as by wide disparities in income and life chances. Financial fraud is also rampant, the most recent variant being advance fee fraud, the practice of obtaining money by deception and/or false pretense, popularly known as "419" after the relevant section of Nigeria's penal code. Traffic accidents are rife too, reflecting competition for space by people and vehicles, as well as disrepair in the latter.

Crime statistics are wide of the mark: many incidents go unreported or become tangled in influence peddling and corruption networks. There are plans to increase the number of policemen and improve law enforcement generally in and around greater Lagos.

9. Economy

Lagos is Nigeria's single-largest commercial center. Once described as an outpost of the industrialized West in tropical Africa, it has a history of economic well being and relative affluence. The city and its neighborhoods had long attracted upwardly mobile and ambitious people from across the world. As gateway to western sea-borne commerce, and latterly to Nigeria, Lagos had started as fishing resort where fishermen from neighboring areas mended their equipment and rested between fishing expeditions. The fifteenth century brought with it contact with Portuguese traders, and Lagos soon became a major market and depot for slave shipment to South America.

In 1862, commercial exports from Lagos stood at £78,000 and imports at £62,000; by 1900 both had risen to £830,000 and £885,000 respectively. By 1975, about 55 percent of Nigeria's industrial establishments were based in Lagos; these accounted for over two-thirds of industrial output. At present Lagos State, of which the city is now part, is Nigeria's smallest, occupying just 0.4 percent of the country's land surface. Yet, Lagos State is also Nigeria's most populous. It is perhaps also the only one state capable of generating enough internal revenue to sustain its operations. The city forms the nucleus of this affluence, home to most banks and other financial institutions, including the Stock Exchange.

10. Environment

The city lay on a tapestry of islands, lagoons, and creeks interspersed by mangrove. Much of its land surface is barely above sea level; since 1989, parts of Victoria Island had been under threat from a rising tide. Land has been reclaimed to build a road on the Marina, as well as make the Five Cowries Island more functional; the flyovers between Ìkòyí and the island also stand on once-swampy terrain.

Air pollution is endemic. Local historian Kunle Akinsemoyin has remarked that in present-day Lagos, "walking is a dangerous hazard, cycling a perilous venture, for the motor car, particularly the lorries have grabbed the monopoly of roads from the cyclists." This reflects several factors, including overpopulation, weak physical planning enforcement, and emissions by vehicles and industrial plants. Sewage disposal has been long problematic. The Lagos lagoon has long served as dump for refuse and untreated sewage; it is thus extremely polluted.

Greater Lagos is bordered to the east, west, and north by other towns in Lagos State. Of the 3,577 square kilometers (1,381 square miles) land surface in Lagos State, lagoons constitute about 790 square kilometers (305 square miles) or 22 percent of the total. Much of the state's land surface is just over five meters (15 feet) above sea level.

11. Shopping

Lagos is renowned as much for row after row of shops as for its irrepressible street vendors. From dwellings through workshops to road shoulders and space between vehicles in "go slow," hardly a square yard of space knowingly goes to waste without being put to some commercial use.

The Jànkara market offers new or second-hand clothing, jewelry, musical instruments, and hardware; the Ìsàlè Èkó market is known for food items while the Balógun market specializes in imported and African clothing material. The Bar Beach market on Ahmadu Bello Road offers food products and handi-craft, such as baskets, leather, and batik. Other markets in the city include the Ògógóró market, named after local gin, the main commodity on offer, and the Èbúté Èrò, Ìta Fãjì, and Sandgrouse markets. The Fálomo shopping center in Ìkòyí is on Awolowo Road. On the mainland the Téjúosó market in Surulere offers a variety of goods, as do other markets in Àpápá and Mushin, among others. In all cases, traders are eager to cut deals on prices; a consumer can buy cheap or dear depending on the state of business, the trader's mood, or time of day.

12. Education

Education is traditionally regarded as a means of social mobility, so most parents are willing to invest heavily in children's schooling. Much of the responsibility for providing education rests with the public sector; a large and largely uncontrolled private educational sector has thrived also, suggesting some dissatisfaction with public sector facilities and enabling the rich and powerful to get more value for their money.

Islamic education had been available since the early nineteenth century. The first secondary school is the CMS Grammar School, founded in 1859 by Rev. T. B. Macauley, a Sierra Leonean expatriate. Known subsequently as Anglican Boys Grammar School, the school still operates today in Bàríga, one of the several outlying towns around Lagos.

In 1960, the city had 112 primary schools and 20 secondary schools. Two years later, 124 primary schools on the island enrolled an estimated 96,152 pupils, divided roughly equally between boys and girls. Fifty secondary schools also catered to about 10,000 students, one-third of them female. Enrollment in all formal educational institutions, including the University of Lagos, totaled 108,140; just over half (52 percent) were male while 48 percent were female.

The economic boom of the 1970s and elected civilian government from 1979 brought with them substantial expansion in educational facilities and access. In 1981, about 125,000 pupils, or one-fifth of the population, were enrolled in the city's primary schools; secondary schools on the island also catered to about 26,000 or less than five percent of the population. By 1989, 877 government-owned primary schools in the metropolitan area employed 15,000 teachers; 342 secondary schools had nearly 12,000 teachers. Adult education programs also ran in the rural areas. The sex ratio has been nearly balanced over the years, though more males than females enter higher institutions, including universities. The literacy rate is estimated at 20 percent in greater Lagos. Figures for the city may well be double.

13. Health Care

Up until the early twentieth century, the city featured among West Africa's "white man's grave," with malaria and yellow fever as main killer diseases. Sanitary conditions were among the worst in the sub-region too. Sewage treatment has remained a problem while malaria and yellow fever are under control. Present-day Lagos now boasts excellent health facilities, including numerous state-of-the-art private hospitals and maternity centers, the University of Lagos Teaching Hospital Medical School, a Dental School, an Institute for Child Health, and an orthopedic hospital at Igbobi. In 1988, 14 primary health clinics existed in the city; greater Lagos had an additional 60. The Lagos Island and Ìkejà general hospitals each had between 21,000 and 35,000 outpatients per month in 1989. Outpatients at health centers in Àpápá and Èbúté Métta stood at between 8,000 and 14,000 each month over the same period. The large numbers are as much indicative of the general population's health as the popular response to subsidized health programs in the 1980s. By far the best-known hospital is the private Èkó Hospital on Mobolaji Bank-Anthony (formerly Airport) Road in Maryland, Ìkejà.

14. Media

Lagos Times was first published in 1880, starting a tradition of active and diverse debate in the mass media. The Lagos Daily News became the first daily in 1920 and ran until 1936, providing with the West African Pilot an urban perspective on Nigeria's campaign for independence.

Today Greater Lagos is home to numerous newspapers and magazines, most privately owned and retaining their editorial independence against the odds. Among government-owned newspapers are the Daily Times and the Lagos Horizon, owned by the Federal Government and Lagos State Government respectively. Older privately owned dailies include the Punch, Guardian, Concord, and Vanguard ; all four also publish during weekends. The Post Express and P.M. News (an evening paper) were established in the late 1990s. The list of weekly news and lifestyle magazines published in greater Lagos include Newswatch, African Guardian, African Concord, Tempo, ThisWeek, and Tell. In turn, titles such as Quality and Lagos Life are devoted to soft human stories, gossip, and lifestyles.

Private radio and television stations have been in operation since 1993. At least nine television channels and several radio stations are received with varying clarity in the city and metropolitan Lagos. Some private TV channels are seen to compete effectively with government-owned stations and are relied upon to furnish views not necessarily reflecting official preferences.

15. Sports

Football (known as soccer in the United States) was introduced in the 1930s and ping pong in 1949. The first sports stadium was built in 1930 and six years later named after King George V; between 1963 and 1973, it became known as the Lagos City Stadium. The Onikan Stadium, which replaced it, was opened for football and cultural activities in the 1980s. The Racecourse at Tafawa Balewa Square is underutilized. The National Stadium was built in 1976 in Surulere on the Mainland; its sitting capacity is estimated at between 80,000 and 100,000. Smaller facilities are scattered around Greater Lagos, for example in Agége and in premises owned by large commercial ventures. In the city, as elsewhere, the average secondary school is almost certain to have some facilities for athletics and at least football, the game Nigerians love above anything else. Lagos has been the main venue for several sports fiestas, among them the Second All African Games held in 1972 and the African Cup of Nations Cup tournament, co-hosted with Ghana and concluded in February 2000.

16. Parks and Recreation

The city is well built up, so open space is a rarity. In 1976, according to some estimates, open space amounted to only three percent of the city's land surface, which translates to 0.01 hectare (0.02 acre) for each 1,000 people. A lot of recreation does take place on land not allocated for such purposes; social gatherings or parties also provide opportunities for recreation.

17. Performing Arts

The Yoruba tradition of the traveling theatre, or Alárìnjo, dates back to the sixteenth century, with groups providing live drama, entertainment, satire, and mild social commentary. The English language theatre boasts well-known names like Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka, Femi Osofisan, and John Pepper Clark. The Lagos State Government runs a Cultural Standing Troupe, and amateur groups exist in several parts of the city. The Pec Repertoire Theatre is a professional company founded by writer John Pepper Clark. The typical state function or communal gathering often includes some dance and drama by children, women, or other social groups. As an art form, however, critical drama, especially satire, has often caused the odd inconvenience to politically insecure administrations.

18. Libraries and Museums

In 1962, the central library boasted over 7,500 adult members and about 12,000 children subscribers. The Yábã branch had about 1,950 adults and 1,500 children on its membership. The National Library is on Broad Street; the City also runs its own library. The British Council and the United States Information Service also offer library services from bases on the island.

The National Museum is on Awolowo Road. The Onikan National Museum east of Tafawa Balewa Square is home to a variety of local art treasures and handicraft, including the Benin bronzes, the Ife and Owo terracotta busts, and the Igbo-Ukwe bronze castings.

19. Tourism

Tourism is not particularly developed in Lagos, yet the city's history resonates in its diverse architecture and in the names given to streets, communities, and districts. For example, Oke Faji, Popo Aguda, Campos Square, Pedro, and Martin Streets are steeped in Brazilian traditions, having been settled originally by Brazilian immigrants who started returning in the 1850s. Saro Town was land assigned by the Oba of Lagos to Sierra Leonean expatriates after the 1850s. The Shitta-Bey Mosque and the Holy Cathedral Church, both in central Lagos, also bear testimony to Brazilian architectural influence.

20. Holidays and Festivals

In Lagos, as elsewhere in Yorùbáland, religious festivals including masquerade displays are occasions to commemorate the passing of the great and the good, cement relations between generations, and offer prayers for social peace and the well being of individuals.

Àdìmú Òrìsà or Èyò masquerade display

Festivals to honor Olókun, goddess of the sea (heavily patronized by fishing families)

Ìgunnukó masquerades (a tradition among the Nupe)

21. Famous Citizens

Alhaji H. P. Adebola (192082), a foremost trade unionist and railway worker.

Felá Anikulapo-Kuti (193897), internationally renowned musician who used his Afro-beat musica blend of African rhythm, Western instruments, and popular languageto campaign against official corruption and dictatorship at home and for respect for Africa abroad.

Nnamdi Azikwe (b. 1904), politician who took a leading role in the Nigerian nationalist movement, founded a series of newspapers, and became the first president of the Nigerian republic.

Alhaji Lateef Jakande, the first elected Governor of Lagos State, serving from 1979 to 1983.

Herbert Macauley (18641946), leading member of the Saro élite and major leader of Nigeria's independence movement who ran the Lagos Daily News, the first daily newspaper from 1920 to 1936.

Oba Adeyinka Oyekan II (b. 1911), the eighteenth Oba of Lagos.

Madam Efunroye Tinubu (180785), an Ègbá slave trader whose influence meant trouble for the reigning Oba of Lagos.

22. For Further Study


Amman, Richard. Lagos Walking Tours. Port-Har-court: Riverside Communications, 1994.

Barnes, Sandra. Patrons and Power: Creating a Political Community in Metropolitan Lagos. 1986.

Fagbamiye, E. O. ed. Educational Development in Lagos State. Lagos: Okanlawon Publishers, 1990.

Lierberman, Irving. A Survey of the Lagos City Library. Lagos: Lagos City Council, 1964.

Odumosu, O. Assessing the Quality of Working Life: Case of Lagos and Ibadan Cities. Ibadan: Nigerian Institute for Economic and Social Research, 1996.

Olajumoke, Remi. The Spring of a Monarch: The Epic Struggle of Oba Adeyinka Oyekan II of Lagos. Lagos: Lawebod (Nig.) Ltd., 1990.

Olomu, Olukayode A. Lagos State: The Cornerstone of Nigeria's Economic Development. Lagos: International Management and Research Institute Limited, 1983.

Olowu, Dele. Lagos State: Governance, society and Economy. Lagos: Malthouse Press, 1990.

Onikoyi, Agboola A. The History of Lagos. Published by author, 1975.

Peil, Margaret. Lagos: The City is the People. London: Belhaven Press, 1991.

Shitta-Bey, S. A. The Origin and Birth of Lagos State. Lagos: Maybao Enterprises, 1979.

Watson, G. D. A Human Geography of Nigeria. London: Longman, 1960.


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LAGOS , principal port city of Algarve province, S. Portugal. During the period when Algarve was a separate kingdom – founded in 1253 by King Afonso iii – and into the 1400s, the Jewish inhabitants were organized into an official community (kehillah) which was empowered to regulate and represent them in every way. The kehillah paid an annual tax to the crown which covered the entire Jewish population. Lagos was the most important Jewish center in the western half of Algarve. From there Henry the Navigator (1394–1460) launched his African expeditions, and a number of Lagos Jews were among his geographers and navigators. After the expulsion of the Jews from Portugal, Lagos remained a center for *Conversos. The city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755. In nearby Loulé, the principal Jewish center in eastern Algarve, Jews were restricted to a quarter known as the Val de Judeo.


M. Kayserling, Geschichte der Juden in Portugal (1867), 7, 183; J. Mendes dos Remedios, Os Judeus em Portugal (1895), chs. 8–9. add. bibliography: A. Iria, in: Memórias da Academia das Ciencias de Lisboa, 25 (1986), 293–438.

[Aaron Lichtenstein]


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Lagos Largest city and chief port of Nigeria, in the s of the country, on the Gulf of Guinea. From the 17th to the 19th centuries, Lagos grew as a Yoruba settlement. It came under British control in 1861, after years of Portuguese exploitation through the slave trade. It became the capital of independent Nigeria in 1960, but was replaced by Abuja in 1982. UN estimates suggests that by 2015, Lagos will be the world's third-largest metropolis with a population of 24.5 million. Industries: brewing, ship repairing, textiles, crafts. Pop. (2002) 8,029,200.