Dakar is the capital of Senegal. The city's name came from 'dakhar' - a Wolof name for the tamarind tree.
Neolithic tools found in Senegal indicate that the country has been occupied for 15,000 years or more. In the 8th century, Senegal was a part of the empire of Ghana. As this empire waned, the Djolof kingdom arose and flourished during the 13th and 14th century in the region between the Senegal river and modern Dakar.
By the end of the 19th century, France controlled all of Senegal and Dakar was established as the administrative center. With the opening of West Africa's first railway from Saint Louis to Dakar, the city became a very important export center for peanut trade. The peanut-oil refinery was an important industry in Dakar during World War II. Dakar is also known for its harbor - it is reputed to be one of the best in all of West Africa.
The city supports a population of over 1.3 million people. The main ethnic groups in the region are Wolof, Mandinka, Peula, Diora, Soninke and Serer. Over 80% of the population follow Islam. The remainder are Christians and practitioners of traditional religions. French is the official language of the country while Wolof is the most widely spoken African language.
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