Discover West Africa’s most spectacular city

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Set at the very western tip of the African continent and surrounded by water on three sides, Dakar is quite simply West Africa’s most spectacular city. In centuries past, the Mali Empire (of which Senegal was a part) was known as the Bright Country for its wide-open skies and savannahs – and while wide-open spaces are a rarity in metropolitan Dakar today, the city still shimmers in a crisp oceanic light, bathing all corners of the Lego-block cityscape in a dazzling glare.

Thanks to the independent-minded Lébou fishers and farmers who inhabited the peninsula for centuries (and continue to retain great influence), the first European presence in what would become Dakar didn’t arrive until 1857 – more than four centuries after the Portuguese set up their first trading post just across the water on the island of Gorée. At the time, Ndakaaru was a village of barely 300 souls; within 50 years it officially became capital of France’s vast West African holdings, and shortly after, the terminus for the famed Dakar-Bamako railway.

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