Once a city on an island, Lagos is now a vast megacity of over 20 million inhabitants and one of the largest cities in Africa. Like many developing cities undergoing rapid urbanization, Lagos struggles to keep up with its rampant population growth, underperforming infrastructure, informal settlements and safety. Nevertheless, the city has a fascinating mix of crumbling colonial and modernist architecture with a fast paced and high- spirited vibe.
A vulnerable port city on the Niger Delta, Lagos is tropical and intense, with a warm and humid climate throughout the entire year. It is a wetland environment with low-lying tidal estuaries, sandy beaches and islands. The dry season occurs between November and March, which is also when the monsoon brings in the dust from the Sahara. The rainy season, between April and October, results in widespread flooding that covers streets and reaches households. The rising sea levels affect Lagos greatly, regularly washing out densely populated areas of low- and middle-income housing.
Possessing one of the highest population densities in the world, Lagos is crippled by inadequate transportation infrastructure and endless traffic jams. Though most Lagosians live on the mainland, the majority of wealth and business is concentrated in the islands. Millions journey there on a daily basis to visit markets and shopping malls, entertainment centers and office buildings. Propped above the largely informal city is a network of congested motorways that channel countless cars from the mainland, into the urban archipelago. Many workers spend up to four hours on the road each day; some even sleep in their cars or offices to save time and avoid traffic.
Even with its noisy clatter and heavy fumes, Lagos is a dynamic center of commerce, the economic engine of Nigeria and the business hub of West Africa. Earlier this year, the Lagos State Government announced a plan that will regenerate the city's Central Business District, connecting it to the rest of the city via cable car and rail. The promising vision could relieve the city's critical traffic condition and improve working conditions in the center.
Lagos's chaotic urban ecology is populated by a young, eager workforce that shines some light on the human capital in the megacities of tomorrow. Lagosians are characteristically social and amiable; they are hard workers that dream big and adapt to different situations in hope of achieving their professional goals. Even though the population in Lagos is remarkably young and faces intensifying unemployment, they are highly adaptable and resourceful when it comes to seeking new opportunities.