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World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Island of Saint-Louis

Island of Saint-Louis

Saint-Louis' characteristic colonial architecture along with its regular town plan, its location on an island at the mouth of the Senegal River and the system of quays, gives Saint-Louis the distinctive appearance and identity that have raised the Island to the rank of world heritage.

Saint-Louis was the capital of the French colony of Senegal from 1673 until independence in 1960. From 1920 to 1957 it also served as capital of the neighboring colony of Mauritania.

Map of Island of Saint-Louis


  • Cultural

Community Reviews

Belinda McDremmot, Australia

When i went to the island of Saint-Louis the beaches where beautiful the people of the island were fantastic and thre charicters of the community were wonderful i went there for my wedding of my partner Glenn all of the island got together for our special day and our honey moon was on the other side of the coast

A Special hello to bob!

Kelly Henry USA

I visited Ile St Louis in Dec 2003. Ile St Louis can be reached by a short ferry ride from Dakar. The ferry is a bit of a challenge as you'll be constantly harassed to hire a guide or visit a souvenir shop. The slave fort itself is open for visits and although colorful in pink plaster and brilliant flowering shrubs, it has a sour aura of sadness about it. We were lucky to have a tourguide give a 20 minute soliliquy (in French) on life at the fort. His dramatic and authentic presentation was worth the trip alone. The island remains inhabited with friendly french speaking Senegalese and the colorful french style colonial houses and beautiful children love to be photographed. (Ask first). There are a few pensions on the island but plenty of hotels in Dakar. Although we were constantly harassed, we never felt unsafe.

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Community Rating

Community Rating 1.50. Based on 2 votes.

Site Info

Full name: Island of Saint-Louis

Unesco ID: 956

Inscribed: 2000

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 2   4  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2000 - Inscribed 


The site has 1 locations.

  • Island of Saint-Louis


The site has 14 connections.



  • Islands threatened by inundation: "In June 2008, Alioune Badiane of the United Nations' UN-Habitat agency designated Saint-Louis as "the city most threatened by rising sea levels in the whole of Africa", citing climate change and a failed 2004 river and tidal canal project as the cause" (Wiki)  Link


  • Lagoons: The entire settlement is situated in a magnificent lagoon formed by the two arms of the Senegal River (AB ev)


  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Sahel: "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." Wiki


  • British Military victories over France: Captured in 1758 during the Seven Year's War :- "The sudden arrival of British troops took the garrison completely by surprise. On 1 May they surrendered the fort, and the resident traders swore allegiance to the British. Not a single Briton had been killed in the taking of the settlement." Was kept by Britain under the 1763 Treaty of Paris but was lost again during the American War of Independence.

Individual People

Religion and Belief

  • Cathedrals: Cath├ędrale Saint Louis, 1828 Neoclassical facade


  • Built in the 19th Century: Founded in 1659 by French traders on an uninhabited island but remained little more than a fortified factory until the English departed in 1817 after a 16 year occupation, leaving it in ruins. A "plan d'urbanisation" was prepared in 1828 defining the regular street layout etc and in 1854 a new governor, Faidherbe, oversaw the completion of the ensemble with further large scale projects.


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