Dakar (700,000 inhabitants) is the capital city of Senegal, located at the country's Atlantic coast. Its position, on 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.
The city of Dakar formed around a French fort, and it replaced Saint-Louis as the capital of French West Africa in 1902. It was the capital of the short-lived Mali federation from 1959 to 1960, after which it became the capital of Senegal.
From the 16th to the 19th centuries, Dakar was a major center of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. More enslaved Africans were shipped through Dakar to the Western Hemisphere (including South America, the American colonies, and the Caribbean) than any other single port in Africa. The Fort D'Estrees on Goree Island, where slaves were held, auctioned, and packed onto ships, was restored by the Senegalese government in the 20th century and transformed into a museum.
Dakar is also the finishing point of the Paris Dakar Rally.