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Situated on the Cape Verde Peninsula on the nation's west (Atlantic) coast, Dakar is the capital, main port, and major metropolis of the Republic of Senegal.
Dakar grew up around a French Fort during the mid-19th century. Aside from U.S. occupation during World War II, the city served as the capital of what was then French West Africa from 1904 to 1959. Dakar's 1.5 million people are largely occupied in agricultural marketing, food processing, and industrial production of fertilizers, cement, and textiles.
About the size of South Dakota, the West African nation of Senegal is blessed with fertile savanna lands, which make agriculture its economic mainstay. Peanuts are the chief cash crop. In the southwest, Senegal envelopes the nation of Gambia along the Gambia River. Africa's semi-desert Sahel region begins in northern Senegal.
A remnant of its colonial past, French remains the official language in Senegal, while Islam is the predominant religion. Multiparty democratic rule prevails amid the country's political scene.
Tourists will find Dakar a study in contrasts. Its modern amenities, recreational facilities, and businesses are reminiscent of a Western urban center, and yet juxtaposed with the traditional lifestyles concentrated in Dakar's medina, or native, quarter.