Lagos is Nigeria's single-largest commercial center. Once described as an outpost of the industrialized West in

Lagos was established as a fishing resort, where fishermen rested and made repairs between trips. Today, fishing still contributes to the economy. ()
tropical Africa, it has a history of economic well being and relative affluence. The city and its neighborhoods had long attracted upwardly mobile and ambitious people from across the world. As gateway to western sea-borne commerce, and latterly to Nigeria, Lagos had started as fishing resort where fishermen from neighboring areas mended their equipment and rested between fishing expeditions. The fifteenth century brought with it contact with Portuguese traders, and Lagos soon became a major market and depot for slave shipment to South America.

In 1862, commercial exports from Lagos stood at £78,000 and imports at £62,000; by 1900 both had risen to £830,000 and £885,000 respectively. By 1975, about 55 percent of Nigeria's industrial establishments were based in Lagos; these accounted for over two-thirds of industrial output. At present Lagos State, of which the city is now part, is Nigeria's smallest, occupying just 0.4 percent of the country's land surface. Yet, Lagos State is also Nigeria's most populous. It is perhaps also the only one state capable of generating enough internal revenue to sustain its operations. The city forms the nucleus of this affluence, home to most banks and other financial institutions, including the Stock Exchange.