Lagos (Yoruba: Èkó) is a conurbation in the Nigerian state of Lagos. Often regarded as a city, it is the largest city in Nigeria and the African continent. Lagos is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and also one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world. Lagos is a major financial centre in Africa; the mega city has the highest GDP, and also houses one of the largest and busiest ports on the continent.
Lagos initially emerged as a port city which originated on a collection of islands, which are contained in the present day LGAs of Lagos Island, Eti-Osa, Amuwo-Odofin and Apapa; the islands are separated by creeks, fringing the southwest mouth of Lagos Lagoon, while protected from the Atlantic Ocean by barrier islands and long sand spits such as Bar Beach, which stretch up to 100 kilometres (60 miles) east and west of the mouth. Due to rapid urbanization, the city expanded to the west of the lagoon to include areas in the present day Lagos Mainland, Ajeromi-Ifelodun, and Surulere. This led to the classification of Lagos into two main areas - the Island, which was the initial city of Lagos, before it expanded into the area known as the Mainland. This city area was governed directly by the Federal Government through the Lagos City Council, until the creation of Lagos State in 1967, which led to the splitting of Lagos city into the present day seven Local Government Areas(LGAs), and an addition of other towns (which now make up 13 LGAs) from the then Western Region, to form the state.
Lagos which was the capital of Nigeria since its amalgamation in 1914, went on to become the capital of Lagos State, after its creation. However, the state capital was later moved to Ikeja in 1976, while the federal capital also moved to Abuja in 1991. Even though Lagos is still widely referred to as a city, the present day Lagos, also known as "Metropolitan Lagos", and officially as "Lagos Metropolitan Area" is an urban agglomeration or conurbation, which consists of 16 out of Lagos State's 20 LGAs, including Ikeja, the state capital. This conurbation makes up 37% of Lagos State's total land area, but houses about 85% of the state's total population.
The exact population of Metropolitan Lagos is disputed; however, the National Bureau of Statistics in 2015 estimates the population of the area at approximately 21 million.
Aerial view of Lagos in 1929
Lagos was originally inhabited by the Awori subgroup of the Yoruba people in the 15th century, who called it "Oko". Under the leadership of the Oloye Olofin, the Awori moved to an island now called Iddo and then to the larger Lagos Island. In the 16th century, the Awori settlement was conquered by the Benin Empire and the island became a Benin war-camp called "Eko" under Oba Orhogba, the Oba of Benin at the time. The Yoruba still use the name Eko to refer to Lagos. Lagos, which means "lakes", was a name given to the settlement by the Portuguese. The present-day Lagos state has a high percentage of Awori, who migrated to the area from Isheri along the Ogun river. Throughout history, it was home to a number of warring ethnic groups who had settled in the area. Following its early settlement by the Awori nobility, and its conquest by the Bini warlords of Benin, the state first came to the attention of the Portuguese in the 15th century.
Portuguese explorer Rui de Sequeira visited the area in 1472, naming the area around the city Lago de Curamo; indeed the present name is Portuguese for "lakes". Another explanation is that Lagos was named for Lagos, Portugal—a maritime town which, at the time, was the main centre of Portuguese expeditions down the African coast, and whose own name is derived from the Latin word Lacobriga.