Lagos is the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria and one of the most populated cities in the world with more than 10 million residents. The city houses the country's main ports and is home to headquarters of major corporations like banks, IT and telecommunications companies.
Lagos can be characterised as chaotic with first impressions including high levels of noise pollution, traffic jams, road rage and massive amounts of people on major roads. It all makes the city a challenging but vibrant place to live and work.
Lagos is made up of three islands and a mainland. The islands of Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lagos Island are situated on the Lagos Lagoon, separated by creeks and connected to the Mainland and each other by bridges. Each Island has its own unique characteristics with Victoria Island or V.I for short home to big business, five star hotels, expensive commercial real estate, quality private schools, trendy cafes, night clubs or bars. Most foreign professionals are at home living or working in VI.
Ikoyi has less noise than Victoria Island and is the main residential area for the upper middle class elite and established expatriate communities. Extravagant mansions built during the colonial era still stand complimenting modern ones.
Residential real estate in Ikoyi are some of the most expensive in Africa where single plots of lands have be ensold for as much as $500,000 and rents on luxury apartments can be as much as $80,000 a year.
Lagos Island is were you'll notice the contradiction of poverty and wealth side by side. The Financial district, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Broad street and Obalende, which is one of Lagos slums and all situated on Lagos Island. Other landmarks and places include CMS cathedral, Tafawa Balewa square and Balogun market.
The Mainland is where majority of Lagosians live and it includes areas like Surulere, Agege, Mushin, Oshodi, Yaba and Ikeja, the capital. Ikeja is home to the State Government's admin offices and Murtala Mohammed, the main International Airport. Ikeja is a prime location for local businesses and industries like fashion boutiques, computer shops, restaurants, industrial estates and factories.
Ikeja rivals Victoria Island for entertainment, and quality hotels with The Lagos Sheraton and Towers being the most recognised brand. Weather When it rains it pours. The weather is typical of most tropical locations. Top temperatures are recorded between January and April and with high humidity, making it quiet uncomfortable. But most places and cars are air-conditioned.
The raining season is between May and September. My advise is to drink plenty of water and stay in air-conditioned rooms during the day. Public Infrastructure Public Infrastructure is stretched is to say the least. Neglect, poor investment and maintenance with an ever increasing population makes public infrastructure very poor in Lagos and Nigeria in general.
Although there are some improvements, the roads are in very poor condition even in affluent areas like Ikoyi or the Lekki suburb. Electricity supply is epileptic, which is why most businesses and homes invest in diesel powered generators. Public infrastructure is not one of Lagos's strong points.
There are plenty of five star hotels and guest houses in Lagos situated mainly on the Island and Ikeja. World class hotels include Sheraton and Towers in Ikeja, Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Crown Plaza and Federal Palace Hotels all in Victoria Island. Ikoyi Southern Sun and the newly built and opulent Lagos Oriental Hotel are of particular good taste but very expensive.
The culture is cosmopolitan in the rich suburbs and life is fast paced with the usual hustle and bustle of a big city. A melting pot of local and International cultures. For most locals, life is a daily struggle for survival but the city also offers glamour, music, films, art, sports and entertainment. Nollywood films and Naija Hip hop, a blend of hip hop music beats with rap in local slangs, and traditional live bands are examples of popular entertainment.
Food is a mixture of local and intercontinental dishes. The traditional staples are a variety of green vegetables and stews eaten with processed cassava or yam flour. Jollof rice, fried rice, grilled chicken, fish, crab meat, shrimps and stock fish are examples of foods you'll find in Lagos fast food and local joints. Indian, Chinese, Lebanese or Ghanaian restaurants are examples of international options but they are concentrated in more affluent suburbs of the State.
Fashion is a mix of traditional or western styles.
Ethically Lagos is made of 60% Yoruba people and 30-40% Igbo, Hausa and other tribes., With high unemployment most Lagosians do whatever they can to survive, relying on their own energy and creativity to make money. It might seem like everyone on the street is trying to sell something but this is Lagos were rent seekers and beggars can be a pest.
However, the city is home to Nigeria's highly skilled work force in Oil, Banking and Finance, Law firms, IT and Telecommunication and is of full Entrepreneurs across all sectors of the economy. Lagos is known as The City of Excellence because of its workforce.
Young people are either students, graduates, working for a living or learning a trade.
The most popular form of transport in Lagos are bike taxis known locally as “okada”. Bike taxis are the cheapest form of transport and are an advantage in traffic. However, with the massive number of cars, taxis and people on Lagos roads, okadas are quiet dangerous to the uninitiated. Other forms of transport are old yellow taxis, red cabs for hire, local buses and car rentals. Most tourists use private cars or car rentals.
The Lagos traffic or “go-slow” is very notorious for its long standstill and road rage. However, the current administration has done a lot to ease congestions caused by illegal street trading and buildings, which has eased traffic flow across busy parts of the city considerably.
Security is a big concern for most first time tourists coming to Lagos because overpopulation and unemployment give rise to crime. However, it is not as dangerous as the media can make you believe. In fact security has improved since the current administration were in government. But my number one recommendation is to have a guide. This could be family, friends, your company or organisation.
Although growing, the tourist industry is still quite small and services are limited to excursions to historical spots, notable buildings .Traditional festivals occur every so often but the beaches are open 24/7. Business Hot sectors Entertainment Conclusion