Makoko – Lagos, Nigeria - Atlas Obscura


What started as makeshift fishermen's housing has grown into a massive, floating community. 


Makoko is located on the coast of mainland Lagos, and is considered an “informal” community. A third of the area it covers consists of buildings, shacks, and shanties constructed on stilts in the shallow Bay of Lagos, which has led to it often being called the “Venice of Africa.” While it’s impossible to get an accurate count, the population of the area is in the many tens of thousands, and has been estimated as high as 250,000.

Established in the early 19th century, Makoko has a diverse history that began when fishermen from nearby Togo and the Republic of Benin settled in the area. In the century since, this community continues to endure despite cultural, political, and environmental struggles. In 2012, conflicts with the local government led to approximately 3,000 people being displaced from their homes and the death of one local. Things have calmed since that time, but locals continue to be wary.

It’s not easy to get to Makoko, and it’s not recommended to try to explore the area on your own. Tour companies have negotiated with Makoko leaders in the past to offer tours to experience what the area has to offer.

Know Before You Go

If booking a tour, make sure the operator has permission from the locals to enter the area. Things are very fluid in this area, so operators come and go.

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