Population > 2.5 million
Leading indicator > International Fashion Week, created in 1997 by local couture-preneur Oumou Sy, has become an annual ritual for European fashionistas
Fast companies > Sonatel; Pictoon Animation
As the rest of the country struggles with a nearly 50% unemployment rate, Dakar grows so persistently that government offices are being relocated to the outskirts to alleviate congestion. Home to both a serious intelligentsia and a non-stop outdoor party, the city has its own sound track--mbalax, an irresistible mix of traditional African, Latin, and funk music--and a thriving art scene.