Saint-Louis (săN-lwē) [key], city (1988 pop. 160,689), NW Senegal, a port at the mouth of the Senegal River. The terminus of a railroad from Dakar, it is a fishing, trade, and export center for peanuts, hides, and skins. The oldest French colonial settlement in Africa, Saint-Louis was founded (1638) on an island in the river as a trade base. In 1659 a French fort was built there. Except for brief periods (1758–79; 1809–15) of British rule, it was the capital of all French possessions in W Africa and capital of French West Africa from its inception (1895) until 1902. Saint-Louis was subsequently (1902–58) capital of both Senegal and Mauritania. It has declined since independence but remains an important administrative, tourist, and trading center.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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