Lagos (lāˈgŏs, läˈgôs) [key], city (1991 est. pop. 1,274,000), SW Nigeria, on the Gulf of Guinea. It comprises the island of Lagos. Lagos is Nigeria's largest city, its administrative and economic center, and its chief port. Industries include railroad repair, motor vehicle assembly, food processing, and the manufacture of metal products, textiles, beverages, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, soap, and furniture. The city is a road and rail terminus and has an international airport. Among its educational and cultural institutions are Moshood Abiola Univ. (formerly the Univ. of Lagos; 1962), Yaba College of Technology (1947), and the National Museum; the city also has a large, multiuse sports stadium.
An old Yoruba town, Lagos, beginning in the 15th cent., grew as a trade center and seaport. From the 1820s until it became a British colony, Lagos was a notorious center of the slave trade. Britain annexed the city in 1861, both to tap the trade in palm products and other goods with the interior and to suppress the slave trade. In 1906, Lagos was joined with the British protectorate of Southern Nigeria, and, in 1914, when Southern and Northern Nigeria were amalgamated, it became part of the small coastal Colony of Nigeria. In 1954 most of the colony was merged with the rest of Nigeria, but Lagos was made a separate federal territory. From the late 19th cent. to independence in 1960, Lagos was the center of the Nigerian nationalist movement. Lagos was the capital of Nigeria from independence until 1991, when the capital was moved to Abuja.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.