Gorée - Mémorial (4).JPG
Senegal Grande Mosquee de Ouakam 800x600.jpg
Soumbedioune Boats (5405595088).jpg
Ngor Beach.jpg
Clockwise from top: Place de l'Indépendance, Mosque of the Divinity, Ngor beach, Soumbedioune boats of Médina, Gorée memorial
Official seal of Dakar
City of Dakar, divided into 19 communes d'arrondissement
City of Dakar, divided into 19 communes d'arrondissement
Dakar is located in Senegal
Location within Senegal
Dakar is located in Africa
Dakar (Africa)
Coordinates: 14°41′34″N 17°26′48″W / 14°41′34″N 17°26′48″W / 14.69278; -17.44667Senegal
Settled15th century
Communes d'arrondissement
 • MayorSoham El Wardini (2018)[1] (BSS/PS)
 • Capital city83 km2 (32 sq mi)
Elevation22 m (72 ft)
 (2013 estimate)[3]
 • Capital city1,146,053
 • Density12,510/km2 (32,400/sq mi)
 • Metro
 • Metro density4,484/km2 (11,610/sq mi)
 Data here are for the administrative Dakar région, which matches almost exactly the limits of the metropolitan area
Time zoneUTC+0 (villededakar.org

Dakar (English: ɑːr/; French: [dakaʁ]; Wolof: Ndakaaru)[4] is the capital and largest city of Senegal. The city of Dakar proper has a population of 1,030,594, whereas the population of the Dakar metropolitan area is estimated at 2.45 million.[5]

The area around Dakar was settled in the 15th century. The Portuguese established a presence on the island of Gorée off the coast of Cap-Vert and used it as a base for the Atlantic slave trade. France took over the island in 1677. Following the abolition of the slave trade and French annexation of the mainland area in the 19th century, Dakar grew into a major regional port and a major city of the French colonial empire. In 1902, Dakar replaced Saint-Louis as the capital of French West Africa. From 1959 to 1960, Dakar was the capital of the short-lived Mali Federation. In 1960, it became the capital of the independent Republic of Senegal.


The Cap-Vert peninsula was settled no later than the 15th century, by the Lebou people, an aquacultural ethnic group related to the neighboring Wolof and Serer. The original villages: Ouakam, Ngor, Yoff and Hann, still constitute distinctively Lebou neighborhoods of the city today. In 1444, the Portuguese reached the Bay of Dakar, initially as slave-raiders.[6][7][8] Peaceful contact was finally opened in 1456 by Diogo Gomes, and the bay was subsequently referred to as the "Angra de Bezeguiche" (after the name of the local ruler).[9] The bay of "Bezeguiche" would go on to serve as a critical stop for the Portuguese India Armadas of the early 16th century, where large fleets would routinely stop, both on their outward and return journeys from India, to repair, collect fresh water from the rivulets and wells along the Cap-Vert shore and trade for provisions with the local people for their remaining voyage.[9] (It was famously during one of these stops, in 1501, where the Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci began to construct his "New World" hypothesis about America.[10])

The Portuguese eventually founded a settlement on the island of Gorée (then known as the island of Bezeguiche or Palma), which by 1536 they began to use as a base for slave exportation. The mainland of Cap-Vert, however, was under control of the Jolof Empire, as part of the western province of Cayor which seceded from Jolof in its own right in 1549. A new Lebou village, called Ndakaaru, was established directly across from Gorée in the 17th century to service the European trading factory with food and drinking water. Gorée was captured by the United Netherlands in 1588, which gave it its present name (spelled Goeree, after Goeree-Overflakkee in the Netherlands). The island was to switch hands between the Portuguese and Dutch several more times before falling to the English under Admiral Robert Holmes on January 23, 1664, and finally to the French in 1677. Though under continuous French administration since, métis families, descended from Dutch and French traders and African wives, dominated the slave trade. The infamous "House of Slaves" was built at Gorée in 1776.

In 1795, the Lebou of Cape Verde revolted against Cayor rule. A new theocratic state, subsequently called the "Lebou Republic" by the French, was established under the leadership of the Diop, a Muslim clerical family originally from Koki in Cayor. The capital of the republic was established at Ndakaaru. In 1857 the French established a military post at Ndakaaru (which they called "Dakar") and annexed the Lebou Republic, though its institutions continued to function nominally. The Serigne (also spelled Sëriñ, "Lord") of Ndakaaru is still recognized as the traditional political authority of the Lebou by the Senegalese State today.

The slave trade was abolished by France in February 1794. However, Napoleon reinstated it in May 1802, then finally abolished it permanently in March 1815. Despite Napoleon's abolition, a clandestine slave trade continued at Gorée until 1848, when it was abolished throughout all French territories. To replace trade in slaves, the French promoted peanut cultivation on the mainland. As the peanut trade boomed, tiny Gorée Island, whose population had grown to 6,000 residents, proved ineffectual as a port. Traders from Gorée decided to move to the mainland and a "factory" with warehouses was established in Rufisque in 1840.

A public water well, 1899

Large public expenditure for infrastructure was allocated by the colonial authorities to Dakar's development. The port facilities were improved with jetties, a telegraph line was established along the coast to Saint-Louis and the Dakar-Saint-Louis railway was completed in 1885, at which point the city became an important base for the conquest of the western Sudan.

Gorée, including Dakar, was recognised as a French commune in 1872. Dakar itself was split off from Gorée as a separate commune in 1887. The citizens of the city elected their own mayor and municipal council and helped send an elected representative to the National Assembly in Paris. Dakar replaced Saint-Louis as the capital of French West Africa in 1902.[11] A second major railroad, the Dakar-Niger built from 1906–1923, linked Dakar to Bamako and consolidated the city's position at the head of France's West African empire. In 1929, the commune of Gorée Island, now with only a few hundred inhabitants, was merged into Dakar.

Dakar Entrepôt. ca. 1900

Urbanization during the colonial period was marked by forms of racial and social segregation—often expressed in terms of health and hygiene—which continue to structure the city today. Following a plague epidemic in 1914, the authorities forced most of the African population out of old neighborhoods, or "Plateau", and into a new quarter, called Médina, separated from it by a "sanitary cordon". As first occupants of the land, the Lebou inhabitants of the city successfully resisted this expropriation. They were supported by Blaise Diagne, the first African to be elected Deputy to the National Assembly. Nonetheless, the Plateau thereafter became an administrative, commercial, and residential district increasingly reserved for Europeans and served as model for similar exclusionary administrative enclaves in French Africa's other colonial capitals (Bamako, Conakry, Abidjan, Brazzaville). Meanwhile, the Layene Sufi order, established by Seydina Mouhammadou Limamou Laye, was thriving among the Lebou in Yoff and in a new village called Cambérène. Since independence, urbanization has sprawled eastward past Pikine, a commuter suburb whose population (2001 est. 1,200,000) is greater than that of Dakar proper, to Rufisque, creating a conurbation of almost 3 million (over a quarter of the national population).

In its colonial heyday Dakar was one of the major cities of the French Empire, comparable to Hanoi or Beirut. French trading firms established branch offices there and industrial investments (mills, breweries, refineries, canneries) were attracted by its port and rail facilities. It was also strategically important to France, which maintained an important naval base and coaling station in its harbor and which integrated it into its earliest air force and airmail circuits, most notably with the legendary Mermoz airfield (no longer extant).

In 1940 Dakar became involved in the Second World War when General de Gaulle, leader of the Free French Forces, sought to make the city the base of his resistance operations. The object was to raise the Free French flag in West Africa, to occupy Dakar and thus start to consolidate the French resistance of its colonies in Africa. The plan had British naval support when fighting alone against the Axis powers. However, due to delays and the plan becoming known, Dakar had already come under the influence of the German controlled will of the Vichy government. With the arrival of French naval forces under Vichy control and faced by stubborn defences onshore, de Gaulle's proposals were resisted and the Battle of Dakar ensued off the coast lasting three days September 23–25, 1940, between the Vichy defences and the attack of the Free French and British navy. The enterprise was abandoned after appreciable naval losses. Although the initiative on Dakar failed, General de Gaulle was able to establish himself at Duala in the Cameroons which became the rallying point for the resistance of the Free French cause.[12][13][14]

In November 1944 West African conscripts of the French army mutinied against poor conditions at the Thiaroye camp, on the outskirts of the city. The mutiny was seen as an indictment of the colonial system and constituted a watershed for the nationalist movement.

Dakar was the capital of the short-lived Mali Federation from 1959 to 1960, after which it became the capital of Senegal. The poet, philosopher and first President of Senegal Léopold Sédar Senghor tried to transform Dakar into the "Sub-Saharan African Athens" (l’Athènes de l’Afrique subsaharienne),[15] as his vision was for it.

Dakar is a major financial center, home to a dozen national and regional banks (including the BCEAO which manages the unified West African CFA currency), and to numerous international organizations, NGOs and international research centers. Dakar has a large Lebanese community (concentrated in the import-export sector) that dates to the 1920s, a community of Moroccan business people, as well as Mauritanian, Cape Verdean, and Guinean communities. The city is home to as many as 20,000 French expatriates. France still maintains an air force base at Yoff and the French fleet is serviced in Dakar's port.

Beginning 1978 and until 2007, Dakar was frequently the ending point of the Dakar Rally.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Dakar
አማርኛ: ዳካር
العربية: داكار
aragonés: Dakar
arpetan: Dakar
asturianu: Dakar
Avañe'ẽ: Dakar
azərbaycanca: Dakar
تۆرکجه: داکار
bamanankan: Dakar
বাংলা: ডাকার
Bân-lâm-gú: Dakar
беларуская: Дакар
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Дакар
български: Дакар
བོད་ཡིག: ཌ་ཀར།
bosanski: Dakar
brezhoneg: Dakar
català: Dakar
Чӑвашла: Дакар
čeština: Dakar
chiShona: Dakar
Cymraeg: Dakar
dansk: Dakar
Deutsch: Dakar
eesti: Dakar
Ελληνικά: Ντακάρ
español: Dakar
Esperanto: Dakaro
euskara: Dakar
فارسی: داکار
Fiji Hindi: Dakar
français: Dakar
Frysk: Dakar
Gaeilge: Dacár
Gàidhlig: Dakar
galego: Dakar
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Dakar
한국어: 다카르
Hausa: Dakar
հայերեն: Դակար
हिन्दी: डाकार
hrvatski: Dakar
Ido: Dakar
Bahasa Indonesia: Dakar
Interlingue: Dakar
Ирон: Дакар
íslenska: Dakar
italiano: Dakar
עברית: דקר (עיר)
Jawa: Dakar
Kabɩyɛ: Taakarɩ
ქართული: დაკარი
қазақша: Дакар
Kiswahili: Dakar
Kongo: Dakar
Kreyòl ayisyen: Dakar
kurdî: Dakar
Кыргызча: Дакар
кырык мары: Дакар
Latina: Dakar
latviešu: Dakara
Lëtzebuergesch: Dakar
lietuvių: Dakaras
Ligure: Dakar
lingála: Dakar
Lingua Franca Nova: Dakar
lumbaart: Dakar
magyar: Dakar
македонски: Дакар
Malagasy: Dakar
മലയാളം: ഡാക്കർ
मराठी: डकार
მარგალური: დაკარი
مصرى: داكار
Bahasa Melayu: Dakar
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Dakar
Nederlands: Dakar
日本語: ダカール
нохчийн: Дакар
Nordfriisk: Dakar (Steed)
Norfuk / Pitkern: Dakaa
norsk: Dakar
norsk nynorsk: Dakar
occitan: Dakar
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Dakar
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਡਾਕਾਰ
پنجابی: ڈا کار
Papiamentu: Dakar
پښتو: داکار
Piemontèis: Dakar
Tok Pisin: Dakar
polski: Dakar
português: Dakar
română: Dakar
Runa Simi: Dakar
русиньскый: Сенеґал
русский: Дакар
sardu: Dakar
Scots: Dakar
Seeltersk: Dakar
shqip: Dakari
sicilianu: Dakar
Simple English: Dakar
slovenčina: Dakar
slovenščina: Dakar
ślůnski: Dakar
Soomaaliga: Dakar
کوردی: داکار
српски / srpski: Дакар
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Dakar
suomi: Dakar
svenska: Dakar
Tagalog: Dakar
தமிழ்: டக்கார்
Taqbaylit: Dakar
тоҷикӣ: Дакар
Türkçe: Dakar
удмурт: Дакар
українська: Дакар
اردو: ڈاکار
vèneto: Dakar
vepsän kel’: Dakar
Tiếng Việt: Dakar
Winaray: Dakar
Wolof: Ndakaaru
吴语: 达喀尔
ייִדיש: דאקאר
Yorùbá: Dakar
粵語: 達喀爾
Zazaki: Daqar
中文: 達喀爾