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Facts About Lagos State

by | Guides

May 11, 2022

What is Lagos known for? Whether you’re a local or a visitor to Lagos, Introducing Lagos sure has some interesting facts about Lagos that will surprise you. 

Learn more exciting facts about Lagos below!

Introduction to Lagos

We did some research into one of our favorite cities in Nigeria and Africa as a whole and learned some interesting facts about Lagos you may not have known.

Lagos, Nigeria, is no doubt one of those ancient Nigerian cities worth studying. From its landscape to its population to its history, Lagos is fascinating in many, many ways. It’s no wonder this city has been featured in many books and movies by both Nigerian and International authors. While for many years, it has been among the tourist capitals of the country.

Called Eko by the Yorubas, Lagos is the commercial capital of Nigeria. It was once the capital before Abuja. Its capital is Ikeja. Lagos is known for its bustling, as it has a population of mostly young people. 

To any Nigerian, the mention of Lagos paints a picture of clogged, car-lined streets of hawkers chasing after buses in traffic, of tall buildings, of game reserves, of the true Nigerian experience

This is everything you need to know about Lagos, Nigeria: 

Location and Landscape of Lagos

 Lagos sits in the South Western part of Nigeria, bound by: 

  • The Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Guinea)
  • Ondo State 
  • Ogun State 

Compared to other Nigerian states, Lagos State is relatively small. Having a size of barely 1,381 sq. mi., less than 0.5 percent of the total landmass of Nigeria, the city presents landforms such as rivers, sandbars, islands, beaches, and lagoons. 

The islands in Lagos, separated from each other by creeks, are so important because they help define the settlement patterns of the city. The settlements of Lagos are divided into two areas: 

  • Settlement on the mainland: The Lagos mainland includes areas like Yaba, Surulere, Magodo, etc. This settlement consists majorly of the population of Lagos, which is not so affluence. It is primarily thought to be not as developed as the Island. 
  • Lagos Island: Lagos Island is the settlement of affluence in Lagos. Life in this area is expensive, and the area is not as bustling as the mainland. 

Ogun River empties into the Lagos Lagoon. This River takes origin from Oyo state, flows into Ogun State, and then into Lagos state. 

There are no mountains nor pronounced hills in Lagos, Nigeria.

But another thing to note about Lagos’ landscape is the skyline of Lagos. Lagos has the tallest skyline in Nigeria. 

People and Population of Lagos

Even though Lagos is comparatively small, its population is not. The population of Lagos is vast (Lagos is the second most populous city in Africa!), spread between the major settlements. 

The census conducted in 2006 concluded that the population of Lagos was about 9.1 million. 

In 2012, the Lagos State government estimated the population of Lagos to be just around 17 million. [1.] In 2015, it was again estimated to be around 24.6 million. 

Lagos State has a population density of 2,500/sq.km. 

Inhabitants of Lagos are called Lagosians, and most of them live in the urbanized parts of Lagos. 55 percent of Lagosians are Christians, most being Pentecostals, 40 percent of them being Muslims, and around 5 percent being traditionalists.

The biggest church building in Lagos is the Redeemed Christian Church of God, RCCG. 

The major tribe here is the Yoruba tribe, as the Yoruba’s inhabited this area of Nigeria a long, long time ago. You will also find lots of Igbo, Hausa, and Ibibio people. 

The major languages spoken in Lagos include: 

  • English: since Nigeria was once colonized by Englishmen, most of the country speaks English. In fact, English is the official language of Nigeria and is taught in schools and colleges. 
  • Yoruba: being an early Yoruba settlement, almost everyone who has lived in Lagos for a long time speaks or understands Yoruba. Yoruba is spoken everywhere. In churches, on the streets, and sometimes taught in schools.
  • Nigerian Pidgin: Nigerian Pidgin is a variety of pidgin English common, not only in Lagos but throughout Nigeria. It is amongst the most common languages spoken in Lagos and is usually spoken by people who, for some reason or another, do not want to speak English or Yoruba. Nigerian Pidgin English has gained popularity throughout the world, as it is the major language inculcated in the Nigerian entertainment space. Afrobeat, movies, and many books feature lines and stanzas spoken or written in pidgin English.

Culture

Culture in Lagos is marked by festivals, dressing, paintings, etc., influenced by Yoruba customs.

Lagosians are big on art. They love to paint and love to write. In Lagos, you will find a large number of art galleries and Museums. 

Eyo Festival (Adamu Orisa) is the most renowned cultural festival in Lagos. This festival takes place on Lagos Island and has to be celebrated on a Saturday. Masquerades, dressed in flowing white, called Eyo parade streets as a tribute to an Oba. 

Read: Where to Buy What in Lagos

Administration and Society of Lagos

The current governor of Lagos State is His Excellency, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who oversees the political affairs of the state. He is aided by 57 local government council chairmen. Lagos, like the rest of Nigeria, practices a system of democracy. 

Elections are carried out every four years to elect new representatives.

The Local government council chairmen are in charge of overseeing the local governments in Lagos, bringing the government to the grass root. 

The society of Lagos state is a complex one, comprising people from different racial, economic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds. It comprises the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the Christians and the Muslims, etc. 

Most people who live in Lagos are entrepreneurs and traders.

The society, like many societies in Africa, has its lapses and is sometimes prone to misunderstandings and clashes. 

Crime in Lagos is not uncommon. This is due to the fact that, although there are many, many millionaires in Lagos, many young people in Lagos struggle with unemployment and poverty.

The state also has a housing and transportation problem. As its population continues to grow due to the steady influx of immigrants, housing and transportation grow progressively difficult to manage. 

Traffic remains a problem in Lagos—this traffic is especially pronounced around the third mainland bridge. 

The average Nigerian will describe life in Lagos as ‘Not easy.’

Read: I need liability insurance in Lagos

History of Lagos

The history of Lagos dates back centuries ago. The area has been a settlement of ancient Yorubas since the fourteenth century, long before the Portuguese and then other Europeans arrived. These Portuguese called the area Lagos, which means ‘lakes’ due to its network of water bodies. 

The Benin empire, having taken over the area of Lagos in conquest, made a lot of trade with the Portuguese, which saw an increase in wealth and power. 

Early in the 19th century, the area was a small kingdom under the Oyo Empire, which collapsed, giving Lagos more room to grow. 

The British took control of Lagos in the 18th century. In the 19th century, the Colony of Nigeria was formed (1914), and Lagos was instituted as the capital of that colony. 

It remained the capital until 1991, long after Nigeria gained independence when Abuja became the capital of Nigeria. 

Read: I want to move to Lagos

Economy

Lagos State is responsible for up to ten percent of the GDP in Nigeria. Due to the workforce present in the area, the economy of Lagos progressively continues to grow. 

The economy is upheld by: 

  • Commercial Services, such as banking and finance
  • Tourism 
  • Farming 
  • Entertainment; the entertainment industry in Lagos is large and renowned. Lagos is the center of Afrobeat, movies, etc. 
  • Importation and exportation
  • Tech Companies, etc. 

Read: I need something in Lagos

Tourism

Tourism is a big part of modern-day Lagos. Every year, lots and lots of tourists from Nigeria and from other parts of the world troop to Lagos to have a feel of the city and what life is like here. 

Some renowned tourist attraction sites in Lagos include: 

  • Nike Center for Art and Culture: for lovers of art, the Nike center for art and culture is a must-visit. It is an art gallery founded by Oyenike Monica, a renowned Nigerian art enthusiast. Come face to face with the most astonishing paintings, sculptures, and pencil works.
  • Lekki Conservation Center: The longest canopy walk in Africa hangs here. At the Lekki conservation center, you come face to face with nature and serenity. And you have a chance to take the longest canopy walk ever.
  • The National Museum, Lagos: established in 1957, the National Museum, Lagos remains a must-visit for tourists. In this museum, you will find galleries containing art pieces that tell stories of Nigeria. Of Lagos.

Other tourist attraction sites in Lagos include:

Freedom Park, Lagos. Tarkwa Bay Beach. The National Theatre. The New Afrika Shrine. Ikeja City Mall. Hi-Impact Planet. 

Interesting Facts About Lagos:

  • The tallest building in West Africa Stands in Lagos 
  • The third mainland bridge was once the longest bridge in Africa
  • 80 percent of Nigeria’s imports are processed in Lagos 
  • Lagos is the economic capital of Nigeria 
  • A floating city called Makoko sits in Lagos 
  • Nigeria’s first seaport is in Lagos 
  • Lagos is the fastest growing city in Africa 
  • Lagos, not Abuja, was the first capital of Nigeria.
  • More than 15 million people live in Lagos. That means 1 in every 14 people in Nigeria calls this bustling city home.
  • The first pizzeria in Nigeria opened in Lagos

Photo by Chuks Ugwuh on Unsplash

By Ubee Johnson

Ubong Johnson (Ubee) is a medical student and freelance writer. He writes articles that cover everything from Lagos city guide to lifestyle.

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