Dakar -- capital of the West African state of Senegal -- illustrates a unique blend of European, Moslem and African influences in its design and development.
Dakar -- capital of the West African state of Senegal -- illustrates a unique blend of European, Moslem and African influences in its design and development. One hundred years ago, the city was little less than a small fishing port, but today it boasts a population of 450,000 and a reputation as one of West Africa's most beautiful cities.
Before Senegal became independent of French rule in 1960, the city had become the administrative capital for the whole complex of French colonial territories in West Africa. Since then it has remained the key location for the numerous foreign and administrative interests within the French-West African community.
The architecture and lay-out of Dakar itself exemplifies the mixture of French colonial and native African styles. In the centre of the city, wide boulevards and outdoor cafes give the impression of easy grace, while in the market areas traditional handicrafts -- favourite souvenirs of Dakar's numerous tourists -- are offered for sales beside native produce and sophisticated modern hardware.
Most of the country's industry is centred around the capital, which has developed into one of the largest ports in the whole of the African continent. Dakar -- an important staging-post on many international air and sea routes -- is currently in the throes of a wide-ranging expansion policy designed to improve not only the housing situation but also the commercial facilities.
President Leopold Senghor -- a long-time exponent of the concept of "negritude" -- has emphasised the need to Africanise the technical and commercial enterprises of Senegal. This has meant of reduction in the French population of the country, but in Dakar itself, any population-lose has been more than compensated by an influx of rural inhabitants. Nevertheless, agriculture remains the prime industry throughout the country.