Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Like many West African cities, Senegal's capital city of Dakar has grown dramatically over the past several decades. Growth is expected to continue. While birth rates have begun to decline, natural growth still accounts for much of Dakar's expansion. In addition, Dakar experienced a large rural-to-urban migration beginning in the 1960s, when Senegal suffered from declining precipitation and periods of extreme drought. By 2005, Senegal's urban population exceeded its rural population. By 2030, two-thirds of the country's population is expected to be urban.

Roughly half of Senegal's urban population lives in the greater Dakar metropolitan area. Urban population growth has turned the Cap Vert Peninsula into a sprawling metropolis, where settlements reach ever-further inland and onto the prime farmland that has historically supported the city. Pikine, initially begun as a resettlement of urban slum dwellers 15 km east of Dakar, has grown to over one million people. Its location in the fertile Niayes region displaced large areas of urban and peri-urban agriculture that once provided livelihoods for a substantial portion of the population.

In the aerial photo mosaic from 1942, Dakar is concentrated at the southern tip of the peninsula, with only the airport and a few scattered roads and settlements to the north. The 2006/2007 image shows only a portion of the greater Dakar area, which currently stretches another 14 km to the city of Rufisque (not shown).
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