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Dakar is a large, modern city with a lot of high-rise buildings, on a peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to a large part of Senegal's population. The central area is easily explored on foot and there are many interesting sights throughout the city. Dakar is one of the most expensive cities in Western Africa and crime rates are high, so be alert when you are walking around, especially at night.

The IFAN Museum is on Place de Soweto, a large roundabout south of the city center, not far from Palais de l'Assemblée Nationale. It has exhibitions of masks, musical instruments and other West African utensils. The 1906 built Palais Présidentiel is a white building a few blocks west of the museum, near the seafront. Other museums in Dakar include the Musée de la Mer (Maritime Museum) and the Musée Historique in the old fort near the ferry wharf. The latter has excellent displays of prehistoric Western Africa, colonization and slave trade, as well as the struggle for Senegal's independence.

Ferries to Île de Gorée (Gorée Island) leave from the jetty near the railway station. The island was one of the first French settlements in Africa and used as a slaving station. It is only a 20-minutes boat ride away from the center of Dakar, but completely different from the city. There are less hustlers, it is very quiet (especially after all the shops close and it has a very mellow atmosphere. On the island you can explore two forts, some small beaches and numerous bars and restaurants.

There are two major markets in Dakar. The Marché Kermel burnt down in 1993 but the sale of fruit and souvenirs continues in the streets around the area. The Marché Sandaga is on Avenue Emile Badiane. This market is much larger and has a wide variety of fabric for sale. Be careful, as it is notorious for pickpockets.

The 1964 built, Grande Mosqée is closed to non-Muslims, but the medina that surrounds it has a very different atmosphere than the rest of Dakar and is worth a visit. In the evenings the mosque's minaret is lit.

The best (=safest) beach in Dakar is Plage Bel-Air. The water is not any cleaner than the other beaches near the city, but it has some facilities such as surfboard-rental. Lac Rethal is on the road from Dakar to Rufisque. It is a pink-colored salt lake.

Dakar is a very expensive city and cheap accommodation is hard to find. There are numerous hotels and hostels in town, but most of them are quite expensive. Food though is cheaply available from any of the street side barbeques, known as dibitterie. There are also many cheap bars and restaurants in Dakar. Transportation around the city is by bus or taxi. Taxis don't have meters, so be absolutely sure about the price before getting in. The gare routière and bus station are in the north of town, about 1œ km northwest from the railway station. The airport is several kilometers north of town.

Further north is the coastal village of N'Gor, which has an excellent beach.


Miscellaneous Information

Latitude:    14 42 N
Longitude: 17 29 W
Elevation:  40 m (131 ft.)

Population: 1,000,000
Cost-of-living compared to Washington D.C.: 161%

Hours from UTC: 0
Daylight savings time: n/a

City phone code: Not required
Country phone code: 221

Average Weather Patterns

January21.9°C (71.4°F)n/a
April22.8°C (73°F)n/a
July27.8°C (82°F)8.9 cm (3.5 in)
October28.1°C (82.6°F)3.8 cm (1.5 in)

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