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Dakar Attractions and Things to See

Dakar is the westernmost city on the coast of Africa, the capital and biggest city in the country of Senegal, sitting on the Cap-Vert peninsula that has provided the most advantageous departure point for trans-Atlantic and European trade that helped it become a significant regional port, and is the home of the National Assembly of Senegal and the president's residence. It was settled during the 15th century by the Lebou, an ethnic group that is related to the neighboring Wolof and Sereer societies. In 1444, the Portuguese would arrive on the island of Goree, and begin a settlement there that would become a base of operations for shipping slaves in 1536. The city is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on its west, Guinea-Bissau on the south, Mali to the east and Mauritania to its north. The landscape is mostly sandy rolling plains of the western Sahel that rise to foothills in the southeast, and the nation's highest point.

Some of the attractions located here include the Dakar Grand Mosque that was constructed in 1964, Goree Island, Hann Park where the Senegal Zoo is located, Dakar Cathedral, major markets, the recently finished African Renaissance Monument, beaches and cliff top walkways. It is the location of the Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport, the end of the Dakar-Niger railroad line and an excellent port. The people here are very proud of their reputation for hospitality or "teranga", and can be very friendly and helpful, but they do have the usual pickpockets and scammers.

Travel here is somewhat dubious, although there is a bus system that has been said to be "fairly dependable", but there isn't a map or anything to help you other than the locals, so it might behoove you to check into renting a vehicle for your own use and pleasure, not to mention ease of traveling on your own timetable. They do have taxis that are said to be safe and cheap, but be sure to negotiate your price beforehand; and check with the locals to see what fare should be reasonable, especially since you are a tourist and most foreign people believe that you have a money tree growing in your back yard.

Attractions include the recently opened African Renaissance monument that is a huge monument dedicated to Africa's emergence from the oppressive European countries that had once ruled the continent and the end of slavery. From the top to its base, it is taller than the Statue of Liberty. The IFAN Museum of African Arts, the Isle de Goree that contains excellent colonial architecture, that are in ruins for the most part, including the landmark "House of Slaves" museum. Les Almadies where many great seafood restaurants can be found, the Dakar Grand Mosque, the Dakar Cathedral and the Hann park and zoo that houses an arboretum constructed in 1947, and numerous public gardens that were created in 1903. The city has a rich musical scene, and Lake Retba that is also called the Pink Lake because it has a high concentration of cyanobacteria that gives it pinkish tone. It is highly concentrated with salt as well so you'll probably see salt harvesters getting salt in the old traditional way. The markets have outstanding embroidered traditional West African Muslim clothes, the Marche Sandaga that is held in a dilapidated concrete structure that is three levels selling meats and vegetables on the main floor, fish in the basement dungeon and restaurant stalls on the roof. The Marche HLM is a smaller market that sells mostly fabric, with hundreds of options for fabric that you can purchase and have tailored to you. The Marche Kermel is near the city's center and sells anything. Soumbedioune is a favorite market for buying fish. There are many restaurants that offer all kinds of cuisine.