Senegal is a land of great silence - immense open plains, dotted with baobab trees, extend to the horizon. The silence is broken only by the seasonal winds of the Harmattan. Though Senegal's recorded history begins only in the 8th century, Neolithic stone circles demonstrate that the coastal region has been inhabited for untold millennia. Its history has been turbulent, contact with the West destroyed the coastal kingdoms of West Africa as English, French and Dutch adventurers vied for control of the slave trade in the 16th century. Control of Senegal passed to the French, who made Dakar the center of their West African colonial empire. Today, Senegal has a population of 11 million. A city of approximately three-million people, Dakar is one of the major trading centers of West Africa.
Ile de Goree, lying just off Dakar, was the site of one of the first French settlements in Africa and a slaving center from the early 19th century. The administrative capital of France's West African colonial empire, Dakar was a trading site for gold, ivory, leather and gum arabic.