City Guide


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Lagos Island
Lagos Island © Benji Robertson
It is hard to believe that Lagos, Nigeria's biggest, busiest city (with a population of roughly 15 million and counting) originated as a small Yoruba settlement. Spread over the mainland near the Gulf of Guinea and several large islands on the vast lagoon that gives Lagos its name, the city is Nigeria's principal port and its commercial and cultural centre.

The former capital grew to prominence when it became a central trading post for the Portuguese in the late 1400s, also serving as a major hub for the international slave trade. When the British annexed the city in 1861, they effectively put a stop to the slave trade, but took control of trade and industry. Once Nigeria gained independence in 1960, Lagos experienced a boom, which swelled the city's population considerably, and today Lagos is one of the world's fastest-growing cities, home to a complex tapestry of religious and ethnic groups. The sprawling city is chaotic, crowded and lacks any major tourism infrastructure, though the government is investing millions in upgrades to security and public transport.

Most visitors travel to Lagos for business, and there are few tourist attractions in the city; however, those willing to put in some effort will have a unique and memorable experience. Streets are congested, drivers are maniacal and blackouts are common, but the complex history of the city, and Nigeria as a whole, contributes to its exotic flavour. Lagos has an interesting National Museum, National Theatre, several colourful markets and some decent beaches to explore.

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