Saint Louis was founded in 1659 and bears the name of the French king Louis XIV. It is the oldest city on the west coast of Africa and was the capital of Senegal from 1872 to 1957. It played an important cultural and economic role in the whole of West Africa.
Many of the buildings maintain their old character of clearly colonial influence, with many colorful buildings with pretty balconies. The island was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.