Lagos is the largest city in Nigeria and former capital city of Nigeria. It is located at 6°34′60″N, 3°19′59″E. Lagos was the capital of Nigeria from 1914 – 1976 and lost its status to Abuja on December 12, 1991. It was stripped of this title when the Federal Capital Territory was established at the purpose-built city of Abuja. However, most government functions (especially the head of state) stayed in Lagos for a time since Abuja was still under construction. In 1991, the head of state and other government functions finally moved to the newly built capital.
Today, Lagos continues to be a commercial center, as it was for much of its history. Portuguese explorer Sequeira visited the area in 1472, naming the area around the city Lagos, meaning lakes. From 1704-1851 it served as a major center of the slave trade. In 1841 Oba Akitoye ascended on the throne of Lagos and tried to bring an end to slave trade by placing a ban on the act. Lagos merchants, most notably Madam Tinubu, resisted the ban, deposed the king and installed his brother Oba Kosoko. Oba Akitoye, while on exile, met with the British, and got their backing to regain his throne. In 1851 he was reinstalled Oba of Lagos.
Lagos was formally annexed as a British colony in 1861. This had the dual effect of crushing the slave trade and establishing British superiority over palm and other trades. The remainder of modern-day Nigeria was seized in 1886. When the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria was established in 1914, Lagos was declared its capital. Lagos experienced rapid growth throughout the 1960s and 1970s as a result of Nigeria's economic boom prior to the Biafran War.
The city is the commercial and industrial hub of Nigeria, with a GNP that triples that of any other West African country. It has greatly benefited from Nigeria's natural resources in oil, natural gas, coal, fuel wood and water.
Lagos comprises several islands such as Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Isale-Eko. It harbors Nigeria's leading port, the Port of Lagos, which is split into three main sections: Lagos port, Apapa Port and Tin Can Port, all located on the Gulf of Guinea and run by the Nigerian Port Authority.
More than half of Nigeria's industrial capacity is located in Lagos's mainland suburbs, particularly in the Ikeja industrial estate. A wide range of manufactured goods are produced in the city, including machinery, motor vehicles, electronic equipment, chemicals, beer, processed food and textiles.
A view of downtown Lagos Ferries and highways link the parts of the city together. However, transport links within Lagos are congested, due to the geography of the city, its explosive population growth, as well as bad roads and bad driving habits. An agency called Lagos Metropolitan Transport Authority (LAMATA) has been created to solve the transportation problems in Lagos. A chain of salt-water lagoons runs west to Badagri and also east towards Ogun State.
By Purity Njeru
Ms. Njeru is an African Executive staff writer
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