Saint-Louis, Senegal

Colonial buildings lining the island of Saint-Louis
Colonial buildings lining the island of Saint-Louis
Saint-Louis is located in Senegal
Coordinates: 16°02′N 16°30′W / 16°02′N 16°30′W / 16.033; -16.500
Country Senegal
RegionSaint-Louis Region
DepartmentSaint-Louis Department
 • MayorMansour Faye
Population (2005)
 • Total176,000
Time zoneGMT (UTC+0)
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official nameIsland of Saint-Louis
CriteriaCultural: ii, iv
Inscription2000 (24th Session)

Saint-Louis, or Ndar as it is called in Wolof, is the capital of Senegal's Saint-Louis Region. Located in the northwest of Senegal, near the mouth of the Senegal River, and 320 km north of Senegal's capital city Dakar, it has a population officially estimated at 176,000 in 2005. Saint-Louis was the capital of the French colony of Senegal from 1673 until 1902 and French West Africa from 1895 until 1902, when the capital was moved to Dakar. From 1920 to 1957, it also served as the capital of the neighboring colony of Mauritania.


The heart of the old colonial city is located on a narrow island (just over 2 km long and about 400 m wide) in the Senegal River, 25 km from its mouth. At this point the river is separated from the Atlantic Ocean to the west by a narrow sand spit, the Langue de Barbarie (300 m wide), which has also been urbanized (the seaside neighborhoods of Ndar Tout and Guet Ndar). Yet a third part of the city, Sor, lies on the eastern mainland and is nearly surrounded by tidal marshes. Saint-Louis is situated on the Mauritanian border, though the border crossing is at Rosso, 100 km upstream.

Three characteristics give Saint-Louis its distinctive geographic appearance: the Sahel, the marshes and the Langue de Barbarie.


Part of the Sahel, a transitional desertic band that separates “[…] the dunes of the Sahara from the baobabs of the savanna”,[1] Saint-Louis’ landscape is characterized by occasional acacias and is disturbed by sand storms during the dry season.


The marshes are flood basins that form during the rainy season when the river overflows into the countryside, creating ponds and stretches of mangroves that attract birds like flamingos and pelicans.

Langue de Barbarie

The Langue de Barbarie ("Tongue of Barbary"), a 600 km long stretch of sand from Nouadhibou in Mauritania to Saint-Louis, over a stretch of 25 km separates the lower Senegal River from the Atlantic Ocean. Its vegetation mainly consists of Filao trees, propagated to prevent soil erosion in sandy and salty soils.[2]

Other Languages
беларуская: Сен-Луі (Сенегал)
Fulfulde: Ndar
Հայերեն: Սեն Լուի
עברית: סן-לואי
lietuvių: Sen Luji
occitan: Ndar
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Saint-Louis (Senegal)
svenska: Saint-Louis
українська: Сен-Луї (Сенегал)
vepsän kel’: Sen Lui (lidn, Senegal)
Wolof: Ndar