| National trends in housing-production practices |
|III. Lagos metropolitan area (LMA)|
LMA, otherwise known as Greater Lagos, is an urban complex that embodies tremendous contrasts. As the former national capital and the major port of the largest country in Africa, it is a powerful magnet for migrants from all over Nigeria. On to a nucleus of traditional African urban settlements are grafted modern industrial, commercial and administrative establishments, as well as mushrooming settlements of new entrants into the labour force. These settlements are sometimes up to 30-40 kilometres from the original city centre
Elements of widely-spread cultures coexist and intermingle. There are those suburban subdivisions of modern, singlefamily homes alongside closely packed extended-family neighbourhoods without water or paved streets. Air-conditioned department stores and market stalls compete with thousands of street hawkers and tradeswomen carrying trays of cloth, oranges and tooth brushes on their heads. Trade unions and professional associations, kinship meetings and ethnic associations, elected council-men and inherited chieftaincies are some of the contrasting institutions. Factories and subsistence agriculture, office skyscrapers, luxury hotels and open sewersall coexist.
The "city of Lagos" has become the largest metropolis in Nigeria. The rapid urban growth which Nigeria has experienced is well manifested in Lagos, the major parts of which are the product of modern economic, social and political forces in interaction with traditional culture. While the "heart" of Lagos is several hundreds years old, the metropolitan complex and modern sectors are products of the past 80 to 90 years and particularly of rapid growth since Nigeria attained independence in 1960. Like many young metropolises in developing countries, Lagos does not have the adequate supporting framework of urban infrastructure. It has no closed sewerage systems; a poor road network; an unsatisfactory public school system and severely restricted capital resources for which many investments compete.
The Lagos urban area as sometimes defined, includes the city and former Federal Territory of Lagos, the boundaries of which coincide. It also includes the suburban districts which were parts of the mainland previously under the jurisdiction of former Western Region. The boundaries of this metropolitan complex are discernible on the basis of both population density and economic patterns, although there is no formal administrative jurisdiction corresponding to it. The metropolitan area is contiguous and its entire expanse could be traversed in a few hours if the traffic congestion were to be eliminated. Persons living in Agege or Ikeja, at the northern extremity, often work in Apapa (20 kilometres away) at the southern extremity. The population density falls off radically outside the perimeter of the settlements defined as part of LMA.
A very small proportion, less than 5 per cent of the urban area, is now devoted to agricultural uses. The city of Lagos itself has only about six square kilometres of undeveloped land; the rest is either built-up or reserved public open spaces which are gradually being converted into commercial and ceremonial edifices. By contrast, however, there is a good deal of undeveloped land in outer portions of the urban area.
Lagos Island was the site of a traditional city whose population was swelled by refugees fleeing from wars in the north of Nigeria and by conquerors from Benin. Vestiges of traditional settlement patterns are found in the north-western end of Lagos Island, which consists of singlestorey extended-family compounds and market stalls. Average population density is more than 500 persons per acre and 36 persons per house. This density is comparable with New York's Manhattan Island.