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St Louis, Senegal

ST LOUIS, SENEGAL, the capital of the French colony of Senegal, West Africa, with a population (1904) of 24,070, or including the suburbs, 28,469. St Louis, known to the natives as N'dar, is 163 m. by rail N.N.E. of Dakar and is situated on an island n| m. above the mouth of the Senegal river, near the right bank, there separated from the sea by a narrow strip of sand called the Langue de Barbarie. This strip of sand is occupied by the villages of N'dar Toute and Guet N'dar. Three bridges connect the town with the villages; and the Pont Faidherbe, 2132 ft. long, affords communication with Bouetville, a suburb on the left bank, and the terminus of the railway to Dakar. The houses of the European quarter have for the most part flat roofs, balconies and terraces. Besides the governor's residence the most prominent buildings are the cathedral, the great mosque, the court-house, the barracks and military offices, and the docks. The round beehive huts of Guet N'dar are mainly inhabited by native fishermen. N'dar Toute consists of villas with gardens, and is a summer watering-place. There is a pleasant public garden, and N'dar Toute is approached by a magnificent alley of palm-trees. The low-lying position of St Louis and the extreme heat render it unhealthy, whilst the sandy nature of the soil causes intense inconvenience. The mouth of the Senegal being obstructed by a shifting bar of sand, the steamships of the great European lines do not come up to St Louis; passengers embark and land at Dakar, on the eastern side of Cape Verde. Ships for St Louis have often to wait outside or inside the bar for days or weeks, and partial unloading is frequently necessary. From July to the end of September that is during flood-time the water over the bar is, however, deep enough to enable vessels to reach St Louis without difficulty.

St Louis is believed to have been the site of a European settlement since the 15th century, but the present town was founded in 1626 by Dieppe merchants known as the Cpmpagnie normande. It is the oldest colonial establishment in Africa belonging to France (see SENEGAL). Its modern development dates from 1854. The town, however, did not receive municipal government till 1872. All citizens, irrespective of colour, can vote. From 1895 to 1903 St Louis was not only the capital of Senegal, but the residence of the governor-general of French West Africa. In November of the lastnamed year the governor-general removed to Dakar. Small forts defend St Louis from the land side the surrounding country, the Cayor, being inhabited by a warlike race, which previously to the building (1882-1885) f the St Louis- Dakar railway was a continual source of trouble.

The town carries on a very active trade with all the countries watered by the Senegal and the middle Niger. St Louis is connected with Brest by a direct cable, and with Cadiz via the Canary Islands.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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