Dakar – Senegal, Africa
Dakar is the capital city and largest city of Senegal. It is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula on the Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city on the African mainland. Its position, on the western edge of Africa, is an advantageous departure point for trans-Atlantic and European trade; this fact aided its growth into a major regional port.
According to December 31, 2005 official estimates, 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 people.
Dakar is a major administrative centre, home to the National Assembly of Senegal and Senegal’s President’s Palace.
The Dakarian climate is warm. Dakar has a hot semi-arid climate, with a short rainy season and a lengthy dry season. Dakar’s rainy season lasts from July to October while the dry season covers the remaining eight months. The city sees approximately 540 mm of precipitation per year.
Dakar between December and April is usually pleasantly warm. Nights during this time of the year are comfortable. Between May and November, the city becomes decidedly warmer. However, Dakar’s weather is not quite as hot as that of African cities inland, such as Niamey and N’Djamena.
The Cape Verde Peninsula was settled, no later than the 15th century, by the Lebou, an ethnic group related to the neighboring Wolof and Sereer. The original villages: Ouakam, Ngor, Yoff and Hann, still constitute distinctively Lebou neighborhoods of the city today. Meanwhile, in 1444, the Portuguese arrived on the island of Gorée and founded a settlement there. By 1536, they had begun using it as a base for the export of slaves. 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 Holland). 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, descendant from Dutch and French traders and African wives, dominated the slave trade. The infamous “House of Slaves” was built here in 1776.