Lagos State can rightly be described as the New York of Africa. Though the smallest state in Nigeria, it is one of the fastest growing cities in the world and is expected to become Africa’s largest conurbation by 2015. As Nigeria’s social and economic capital, the state is becoming increasingly relevant on the world tourism map.
History of Lagos State
Lagos state was founded in the 15th century as a war camp for the Benin Empire in the reign of Oba Orhogba. Oba Ashipa was then installed as king of the Aworis, the original settlers, who had immigrated from Ogun via the Isheri River to Iddo Island and finally Lagos Island.
In 1472 Rui de Sequira, a Portuguese explorer visited the area and christened it Lago de Curamo or Healing Lake. It later took on its present name after the port of Lagos in Portugal. Taking advantage of the Oba Kosoko deposition crisis that rocked the kingdom in the middle of the 19th century and using the intended abolition of the slave trade as a pretext, the British annexed Lagos in 1861.
This period also saw the influx of freed Creole slaves from Freetown, Sierra Leone, Brazil, and Portugal. The legacy of the immigration period is seen today in the South American architectural building styles and genealogy of families in Lagos Island.
Lagos became the capital of Nigeria after the amalgamation of 1914; it retained its status as the socio-economic capital of Nigeria with the advent of independence and even after it ceased being the Federal Capital on December 12, 1991.
Tourist Attractions in Lagos State
Lagos, as the economic and social capital of Nigeria boasts the highest and finest number of tourist attractions, relaxation spots, and business locations in the country.
The Lagos State Waterfront and Tourism Development Corporation, under the incumbent governor, Babatunde R. Fashola, is repositioning the state to take its rightful place among the tourist capitals of the world.
Airline travel to and from Lagos to other parts of the world, is provided by a number of airlines such as Dana Air, Arik Air, Air Nigeria, Bellview, South Africa Airlines, Kenya Airways, Virgin Atlantic, Delta Airlines among many others all of which fly direct destinations to different cities in the US, UK, Canada, Dubai etc.
World class hotels abound in the posh Ikoyi, Victoria Island, Lekki, and Ikeja areas of Lagos: the five-star Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Ikeja, Protea and Eko Hotel and Suites in Victoria Island, Sofitel in Ikoyi, and the secluded Hermitage Garden Resort on the Lekki/Ajah Peninsula to mention a few.
The posh Niteshift Coliseum and Koko Lounge are ideal spots to hang out and unwind with friends in the evening.
High class restaurants like Chocolat Royale and Lagoon Restaurant in Victoria Island, Sun Chao Chinese Restaurant in Lekki, and Villa Medici in Onikan, Lagos Island offer a dazzling array of declicous meals to sate even the most jaded appetite.
- Festivals and Events
Festivals held at different times of the year include the traditional Eyo Festival held to commemorate the death of an important personality usually in Lagos Island, Black Heritage Festival and Lagos Carnival, which were both held in April 2010 mainly in Badagry and Lagos Island.
Others are Muson Festival (October-November), Lagos International Jazz Festival (October-November mainly in Festac), Eko International Film Festival (National Theatre, Iganmu in November), This day Music Festival; this year’s edition held in October was headlined by the R & B maestro, R.Kelly.
The biggest hip hop music festival is Star Mega Jam (December), which has featured international artists like 50 Cent, Ludacris, Nelly, Sean Paul among others.
Top notch shopping venues include City Mall in Lagos Island, Silverbird Galleria in Victoria Island, and Falomo Shopping Centre in Ikoyi.
Yacht cruise-operators are to be found in Victoria Island and Lekki while large golf courses are available in Ikoyi, Ikeja, and Lagos Island. Oniru Private Beach, Alpha Beach, and Lekki Beach are other highbrow leisure spots for beach lovers to while away the time.
Tourist Monuments in Lagos State
Due to its rich and long history, Lagos State boasts many important monuments today.
Historical monuments include the race course in Lagos Island (formerly Tafawa Balewa Square), Dodan Barracks in Ikoyi (the former seat of many past military governments in Nigeria), and Badagry town, the site of the first storey building in Nigeria, slave trade relics, as well as the Fallen Agia Tree under which the first Christian sermon was preached.
Cultural monuments include the Palace of the Oba of Lagos and the National Arts Museum in Lagos Island, Palace of the Oba of Badagry, Palace of the Oba of Ikorodu, the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, the Holy Cross Cathedral in Marina, Lagos Island, and the New Africa Shrine in Mushin, the Graceland of late Afro-beat legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti.
Educational monuments include the University of Lagos and the Yaba College of Technology in Akoka, Yaba; Lagos State University in Ojo; Lagos State Polytechnic with its main campus in Ikorodu; and the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education in Oto-Ijanikin.
Other monuments are Tejuosho and Balogun Markets, Central Business District, National Stadium Lagos, Old State House Marina, International Trade Fair Complex, Tinubu Square, and Ikeja GRA, Government Secretariat Alausa Ikeja among many others.