Île de Gorée “Gorée Island” is one of the 19 communes d’arrondissement of the city of Dakar, Senegal. It is an 18.2-hectare (45-acre) island located 2 kilometres (1.1 nmi; 1.2 mi) at sea from the main harbor of Dakar.
Its population as of 31 January 2005 official estimates is 1,056 inhabitants, giving a density of 5,802 inhabitants per square kilometre (15,030/sq mi), which is only half the average density of the city of Dakar. Gorée is both the smallest and the least populated of the 19 communes d’arrondissement of Dakar.
Gorée is famous as a destination for people interested in the Atlantic slave trade but relatively few slaves were processed or transported from there. The more important centres for the slave trade from Senegal were further north, at Saint-Louis, Senegal, or to the south in the Gambia, at the mouths of major rivers for trade. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
POINTS OF INTEREST ON GOREE ISLAND
The Slave House: Built in 1776 by the Dutch, the slave House is one of several sites on the island where Africans were brought to be loaded onto ships bound for the New World. The owner’s residential quarters were on the upper floor. The lower floor was reserved for the slaves who were weighed, fed and held before departing on the transatlantic journey. The Slave House with its famous “Door of No Return” has been preserved in its original state. Thousands of tourists visit the house each year.
The Botanical Gardens: Located on the Rue du Port, the gardens were founded by the French in 1667 and remain open to the public.
The Church of St. Charles: Located on the Place de l’Eglise, the church was built with public contributions in 1830 in the style of provincial churches in western France.
The Castle: Originally built by the Dutch in the 17th century, the fortress has been razed and View of Goree from the island’s high point, where the castle once stood reconstructed several times. In the 18th century it housed the residence of the Governor of Senegal and in 1940 it was bombarded by a combined British and Free French naval force.
William Ponty School: From 1913-1937, this building housed the Ecole Normale William Ponty where many African leaders were educated.
Strickland House: The site of the first American Consulate established in West Africa. It was the home of American businessman Peter Strickland who came to Africa in 1878 as a representative of the Boston trading firm and was named the US Consul in 1883.
Université des Mutants: This university, founded by former Senegal President Senghor, was established to bring together the best minds of Africa. It is the site of frequent conferences on current cultural and economic issues for developing nations.
Hostellerie du Chevalier de Boufflers: This well-known restaurant was named after the first FrenchHostellerie du Chevalier de Boufflers overlooking the beach Governor of Senegal, a colorful figure who moved to Goreé from the Capital of St. Louis (northwest coast) and is reported to have broken many hearts upon his return to France in 1788.
Historic Museum: Opened in 1989, the museum has exhibits on anthropology, West African pre-historyEntrance to the small Fort Estrees, now museum and the political and religious history of Senegal.