City of Dakar, divided into 19 communes d'arrondissement
| • ||Soham El Wardini (2018) (|
| • ||83 km2 (32 sq mi)|
|Elevation||22 m (72 ft)|
| • ||1,146,053|
|• Density||12,510/km2 (32,400/sq mi)|
| • ||2,452,656|
|• Metro density||4,484/km2 (11,610/sq mi)|
|Data here are for the administrative Dakar région, which matches almost exactly the limits of the metropolitan area|
The area around Dakar was settled in the 15th century. The
The Portuguese eventually founded a settlement on the island of
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
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
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
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
In its colonial heyday Dakar was one of the major cities of the French Empire, comparable to
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.
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
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
Beginning 1978 and until 2007, Dakar was frequently the ending point of the