Dakar (English pronunciation: ;French: [da.kaʁ]) is the capital and largest city of Senegal.
It is located on the Cap-Vert Peninsula on the Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city in the Old World and on the African mainland. Its position, on the 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.
According to 31 December 2005 official estimates, the city of Dakar proper has a population of 1,030,594, whereas the population of the Dakar metropolitan area is estimated at 2.45 million people.
Dakar is a major administrative center, home to the Senegal National Assembly and the Presidential Palace.
The Cap-Vert peninsula was settled, no later than the 15th century, by the Lebou people, an aquacultural ethnic group related to the neighboring Wolof and Sereer. The original villages: Ouakam, Ngor, Yoff and Hann, still constitute distinctively Lebou neighborhoods of the city today. In 1444, the Portuguese reached the Bay of Dakar, initially as slave-raiders, but were repulsed by the natives on the shores. Peaceful contact was finally opened in 1456 by Diogo Gomes, and the bay was subsequently referred to as the "Angra de Bezeguiche" (after the name of the local ruler). The bay of "Bezeguiche" would serve as a critical stop for the Portuguese India Armadas of the early 16th century, where large fleets would routinely put in, both on their outward and return journeys from India, to repair, collect fresh water from the rivulets and wells along the Cap-Vert shore and trade for provisions with the local people for their remaining voyage. (It was famously during one of these stops, in 1501, where the Florentine navigator Amerigo Vespucci began to construct his "New World" hypothesis about America.)