Lagos is the most populous Nigerian city, while Nigeria is Africa’s largest country. This makes Lagos the second most populous city in the entire Africa after Cairo.
Lagos is the former capital of Nigeria – today the country’s capital is Abuja. Lagos is the country’s major port, as well as its administrative, commercial and industrial hub, with a GDP triple that of any other West African country. The city has greatly prospered on Nigeria’s natural resources such as oil, natural gas, coal, fuel wood and water.
Lagos is a huge metropolis, it is 17th most populated in the world. It is home to between 10 and 20 million people, but no accurate numbers exist as the last census was taken in the 1980s.
The city is located on several islands: Lagos Island, Victoria Island, Isale-Eko, Ikoyi of Lagos, and has spread over to mainland west of the lagoon.
The city is combating several problems. Its population expanded so quickly that the city is not equipped with adequate infrastructure or planning. The overcrowding (average 6 persons per room) is bound to increase, as the booming oil industry draws masses of migrants from rural areas. In addition the city is faced with poor air and water quality, sanitation problems, sewer clogs, and huge traffic jams.
Lagos’s greatest asset is its people. The sheer diversity of this multi ethnic city will enchant any visitor.
Lagos has a climate similar to that of the entire southern Nigeria: it has two rainy seasons and two drier seasons. The first and wettest rainy season lasts from April to July and the second, weaker, rainy season lasts from October to November. The first dry spell is short and relatively wet; it lasts from August to September. The second spell is longer and drier and lasts from December to March. The main dry season is usually accompanied by the harmattan winds blowing from the Sahara Desert that are strongest between December and early February.
The average hottest month is May and coolest one is July. The average driest month is January.
January average temperature 26.7 deg Celsius, 13 mm rainfall February average temperature 29 deg Celsius, 41 mm rainfall March average temperature 29 deg Celsius, 84 mm rainfall April average temperature 28 deg Celsius, 146 mm rainfall May average temperature 26.7 deg Celsius, 202 mm rainfall June average temperature 25.5 deg Celsius, 316 mm rainfall July average temperature 25.5 deg Celsius, 243 mm rainfall August average temperature 25 deg Celsius, 122 mm rainfall September average temperature 25 deg Celsius, 160 mm rainfall October average temperature 25.5 deg Celsius, 125 mm rainfall November average temperature 26.7 deg Celsius, 40 mm rainfall December average temperature 26.7 deg Celsius, 15 mm rainfall
Lagos is served by the Murtala Mohammed International Airport located in Ikeja, a suburb of Lagos. There are several flights from most European cities, as well as direct flights from the United States. www.mma2lagos.com/
The easiest way of getting around is in a car with a hired driver. However, this may not fit those on a tight budget. Prices are negotiable.
There are two kinds of buses: the larger ones are called Molue and the mini-buses are called Danfo. Both are incredibly overcrowded.
Taxis are more expensive than buses but also safer, especially at night. Negotiate the price before entering the vehicle.
These are great for shorter distances within the city, and are called Okada. The services are quick and cheap, but also risky due to poor traffic conditions and reckless drivers.
Lagos has several beaches. Visiting a beach is a great way of cooling down and unwinding. The best bets are Palisades Beach, Lekki Beach, Tarkwa Beach, and Lighthouse Beach. Kuramo Beach offers numerous facilities for water-based activities. Suntan Beach at Badagry is a modern resort offering numerous comfortable facilities and food.
YANKARI NATIONAL PARK
This large wildlife park is located in Bauchi State in northeastern Nigeria. The area of 2,244 km² is home to over 50 species of wild animals: baboons, elephants, hippos, hartebeests, numerous birds and fishes live here. The park lies in the heart of West African savanna and makes a unique spot for wildlife spotting.
The park boasts numerous magnificent natural features, rich flora and fauna, the Marshall Cave System and the Wikki Springs - offering superb bathing opportunities.
The park is a favorite tourist destination in Nigeria and on of West Africa’s favorite eco tourism resorts.
TRAIN TRIP TO KANO
Kano, 836 km northeast of Lagos, is the third largest city of Nigeria, and West Africa’s oldest city. One of Nigeria’s nicest towns, Kano has been an important trading center during the Hausa Empire in 18th – 19th centuries. It is situated at the fringes of Sahara and boasts a magnificent Old City wall with 16 gates. Among the city highlights there is the huge Kurmi Market and the Central Mosque. The dying pits at Kofar Mata are the oldest in Africa and are still in use. From Kano there are several interesting excursions possible to Birnin Kadu featuring rock paintings, Daura, a traditional Hausa town and Sokoto, boasting a great leather market and Sultan’s palace.
The square is situated on Lagos Island, next to the National Assembly. It was built in 1972 in honor of the country’s first Prime Minister. The large square serves as the setting for major national celebrations and other gatherings, and it can accommodate 50,000 people. The square also features the Remembrance Arcade, a memorial for Nigerians who lost their lives in WWI and WWII. The square offers several facilities: shopping center, travel offices of major airlines, restaurants, and more. Remember to visit the square during daytime. Never visit it at night due to frequent muggings.
OBA'S KING PALACE /IGA IDUNGARAN
Address: Iga Idunganran Street 1, Lagos Island
This magnificent building has been the official residence of the Oba (kings) of Lagos since 1670. It was constructed over a period of 300 years and was later additionally renovated and modernized. The majority of materials used the construction were brought from Portugal. Visitors who want to tour the residence need to apply for permission at the Secretary of the Oba of Lagos.
Address: King George V/ Road Lagos, Lagos Island Open: daily
The National Museum is home to ancient artifacts from various civilizations, including Benin Bronze, Nok Culture, and Ife Bronze. One of its most outstanding items are the bronze statues and ivory carvings from the Kingdom of Benin, from 5th – 17th centuries, which are considered to be among the finest achievements in African art. The museum’s government section includes the eerie bullet-punctured car in which the former president Murtala Mohammed was killed in 1973.
Address: Martins Street
The magnificent mosque was designed by a Brazilian architect, Senor Joas Baptista Da Costa, in 1892. The money was provided by a wealthy merchant Mohammed Shitta Bey, thus the mosque was named after him. The architectural style is strongly influenced by Brazilian style. It features floral patterns on its pinnacles and traceries on the canopy. The mosque is in pristine condition.
BLACK HERITAGE MUSEUM, BADAGRY
The museum houses artifacts recording the history of slave trade. An important slave route once passed through Badagry in early 1500s, taking slaves from West Africa to America. Badagry exported as many as 550,000 African slaves to America during the period of American Independence. It is a chilling reminder of the past, and leaves no one untouched.
Lagos is famous for its colorful markets, ideal places for getting to know the local vibe, do people watching, and buy interesting things. Lekki Market, located 9 km from Victoria Island, is a great way to spend an afternoon. The market is also a favorite venue for the locals. The market offers beads, masks, paintings, wooden items, as well as fresh fruit and vegetables.
Lagos offers a wide variety of dining opportunities, from traditional African cuisine, to European and Asian cuisine. Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern and other food is widely available. In addition, numerous fast food chains are present throughout the city. Most restaurants have table service, and there are also self-service eateries, most of them in department stores.
Local dishes include yam, sweet potatoes, plantain and pepper soup, suya (barbecued liver and beef on sticks) and kilishi (spiced dried meat).
The best restaurants are concentrated on Ikoyi Island and in the Yaba area.
The best places to go for delicious fish or seafood are beachside restaurants.
The cheapest food can be bought at the street stalls mostly found along Broad Street. Fast food restaurants are found all over the city. Most snack restaurants are clustered around Awolowo Road.
A 10% tip is usually expected, unless a service charge has already been added.
Shango festival celebrates Shango god, a powerful god of Yoruba culture who represents thunder. The festival reaches its climax after 20 days of preparation. Sacrifices are made at the shrine where a priest becomes obsessed with god, and swallows fire and gunpowder. A procession then follows the priest to the Oba’s palace where a feast is held.
Date: various Location: Tinubu Square
The festival is unique to Lagos area and is believed to be the predecessor of Brazilian carnival. Eyo festival is held for 24 days after the death of an Oba King. Thus it takes place on different dates, depending on the king’s passing away. It includes masquerades, traditional dancing, honoring Yoruba tribe gods and installing a new king. On Eyo Day the main Lagos highway is closed and the procession goes from Idumota to Iga Idunganran. On the last day of the celebration priests make animal sacrifices by pouring blood on the Eyo shrine. Later a feast is made using sacrificial animals’ meat. The festival is accompanied by lively traditional dancing, and drumming.
INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATIONS
Date: October 1, annually Where: parade ground
Nigeria gained independence from Britain on October 1, 1960. It is celebrated with huge festivities, in all 36 states of Nigeria. This is the country’s biggest celebration. Each year it begins with a live address of the president that is broadcast over TV and radio, followed by a huge parade and cultural program.
Lagos was once a Yoruba settlement called Eko. Throughout its history it was occasionally occupied by warring tribes and during its early history was also ruled by the Kingdom of Benin.
In 1472 a Portuguese explorer Ruy de Sequiera visited the area and named it Lago de Curamo so the present-day name ‘Lagos’ derives from Portuguese word ‘lakes’.
From 1704 to 1851 Lagos was a central slave trade center. It was ruled by the Yoruba kings, the Oba of Lagos. In 1841 Oba Akitoye tried to bring slavery to an end by banning it. The Lagos merchants, however, resisted the ban and instead, deposed the king, substituting him with his brother, Oba Kosoko.
Akitoye, while in exile, gained British support and regained his throne. The British banned slave trade in 1807 and their anti-slavery movement was the precursor to the colonization of the city. They succeeded colonizing Lagos in 1861. On one hand slavery was banished but on the other the British gained control of the lucrative palm trade as well as other business. Most of the city’s infrastructure was built during the British colonization. By 1886 the entire modern-day Nigeria was seized by Britain. In 1914 the Protectorate of Nigeria was established and Lagos was made its capital.
In 1960 Nigeria gained independence from Britain. Lagos was still the capital at the time. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Lagos continued to prosper industrially.
For nearly 90 years, Lagos was the country’s capital. But in 1991 it lost its status to Abuja, a planned city constructed during the 1980s, located in the center of Nigeria in the Federal Capital Territory.
Lagos is Nigeria’s commercial and industrial hub, with a GDP triple of any other Western African country. It thrives on Nigeria’s rich natural resources such as oil, gas, coal, water and wood. Lagos is also home to the country’s major port. The city incorporates over half of Nigeria’s industry, located in mainland Lagos. It includes machinery, motor vehicles, electronic equipment, chemicals, processed food and textiles.
Nigeria has a high level of crime. Crimes such as violent assault, armed robbery, rape and carjacking are widely present throughout the country and Lagos is no exception. Crime is mostly fuelled by unemployment and harsh disparities in lifestyle and income.
Crime increases at night. Most areas do not have lighting so avoid walking anywhere at night. If you have to go somewhere, drive. High-risk areas include the three bridges connecting the Lagos and Victoria Islands with mainland. Traffic congestion often forms around bridges, making them an ideal place for armed robbers or to set up road blocks.
Financial fraud is ever present so avoid any business offer promising high earning for little of no investment.
Carry only small cash you really need and store it in several pockets. Do not use ATMs, credit cards or personal checks anywhere in the country.
Always show respect for policemen and soldiers. Never take photos of airports, public buildings and monuments.
Rainy season lasts from June to November. During dry season temperatures are slightly lower. Humidity is high throughout the year but afternoons during the dry season are pleasantly mild. The hottest month is March (average 29°C) and the coolest month is July (average 25°C).