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Dakar (population 1,009,256) is the capital and largest city in Senegal. The metropolitan area of the Dakar region has a population of 2,399,451. It faces the Atlantic Ocean on the southern side of the Cape Verde Peninsula. Dakar is famous as the destination point of the renowned Dakar Rally (Paris-Dakar).
Dakar was founded by the French in 1857. In 1885, work was completed on a railroad connecting it to Saint-Louis (over the Senegal River), giving rise to a period of great economic development. In 1902 Dakar replaced Saint-Louis as the capital of French West Africa. Dakar is also a large port city. Its geographical position very close to America made it the largest port in western Africa.
During World War II it was administered by the Vichy government, which was defeated by the Allies in 1942. From 1959 to 1960 Dakar was the capital of the short-lived Mali Federation and then became capital of independent Senegal.