Modern-day Lagos is now a state in South-Western Nigeria. It is bounded on the west by the Republic of Benin, to the north and east by Ogun State with the Atlantic Ocean providing a coastline on the south. Lagos is made up of a collection of islands surrounded by creeks that fringe the mouth of the Lagos lagoon on the southwest. It is separated from the Atlantic Ocean by a stretch of loosely connected barrier islands and sand spits.

Lagos means "lakes" in Portuguese, the language of the first European immigrants known to visit the settlement, then already inhabited by the Awori and Bini and known to them as Oko.[1] From the first contacts with the region until the early 20th century, another Portuguese name for the city that was interchangeably used was Onim,[2] finally abandoned in favor of Lagos. Although Lagos translates to "lakes" in Portuguese, it also means “Lagoon”, or a salt water body of water connected to the ocean by channels which flow depending on the tide. In the state of Rio de Janeiro, for instance, the Portuguese named the “Região dos Lagos” (Lakes Region) an area with lagoons very much similar to the Lagos Lagoon.

From the crowning of Ado as its first Oba, Lagos (then called Eko) served as a major center for slave-trade, from which then Oba of Benin Ado and all of his successors for over two centuries supported - until 1841, when Oba Akitoye ascended to the throne of Lagos and attempted to ban slave-trading.

Local merchants strongly opposed the intended move, and deposed and exiled the king, and installed Akitoye's brother Kosoko as Oba.[3]

At exile in Europe, Akitoye met with British authorities, who had banned slave-trading in 1807, and who therefore decided to support the deposed Oba to regain his throne. With the success of the British intervention, in 1851 Akitoye was reinstalled as Oba of Lagos. In practical terms, however, British influence over the kingdom had become absolute, and ten years later, in 1861, Lagos was formally annexed as a British colony.

The British annexed Lagos Island as a colony in 1861. The remainder of the Benin Empire - i.e., modern-day Nigeria - were seized by the British in 1887, and when the British established the Colony and Protectorate of Nigeria in 1914, Lagos was declared its capital.

Lagos maintained its status as capital when Nigeria obtained its independence from Britain in 1960. Lagos was therefore the capital city of Nigeria from 1914 until 1991, when it was replaced as Federal Capital Territory by planned city of Abuja, built specifically for such purpose.

Until today, the Oba of Lagos was the ceremonial leader of all the other kings in Lagos State. His status differs from those of the other Obas, most of whom were only restored to their thrones within the last 40 years.

The present day Lagos State has a higher percent of this sub-group who allegedly migrated to the area from Isheri along the Ogun river. History has it that the Awori were actually from Ife, the cradle of Yorubaland. The Awori people are a peaceful people initially not taken to warfare. Due to war, those from the hinterlands, like the Ekiti, ran towards Isheri, which at that time had more than one Olofin who were heads of settlements about 1400AD.

When the people fled from the hinterlands most of them scattered again, some to Iro, to Otta, Ado, others to Ebute Metta i.e. three landing places - Oyingbo, Iddo Island and Lagos Island (Eko). The Olofin that brought those who went to Ebute-Metta was Ogunfunminire, later known as Agbodere. With the full commencement of the war about 2000 moved to Iddo Island, others to Otto Awori or Otto Ijanikin towards modern-day Badagry. Those from Ekiti Aramoko came to Ebute-Metta, Iddo and then Ijora.

After the demise of Agbodere, the name Olofin became the name used to remember him; the title of Oloto was given to his successor. When one of his sons becoming the Oloto his other children parted ways to what is known as visible settlements in present-day Lagos.

Until the coming of the Benins, Lagos's geographic boundary was Lagos Mainland. Lagos Island, the seat of the Oba of Lagos, then consisted of a pepper farm which belonged to the Aromire family (One of Olofin's sons) and fishing posts. No one lived there. The name Eko was given to it by its first king, Oba Ado, during its early history; it also saw periods of rule by the Kingdom of Benin.

Eko was the land area now known as Lagos Island where the king's palace was built. The palace is called Iga Idunganran, meaning palace built on the pepper farm. Oba Ado and the warriors from Benin, as well as some of the indigenous people who sought safety, settled in the southern part of Eko, called Isale Eko. "Isale" literally means "bottom", but must have been used to indicate downtown (as in Downtown Lagos).