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- See also Thiess/Thies (name).
Thiès (pronounced : chess in Noon language) is the third largest city in Senegal with a population officially estimated at 320,000 in 2005. It lies 72 km east of Dakar on the N2 road and at the junction of railway lines to Dakar, Bamako and St-Louis. It is the capital of Thiès Region and is a major industrial city.
Before colonization, the Thiès Plateau was a wooded frontier between the kingdoms of Cayor and Baol inhabited by the Serer-Noon, an ethnic sub-group of the Serer people. The Serer-Noon still inhabit the Thiès-Noon neighborhood of the south-west city today. They speak the Noon language, one of the Cangin languages.
The plateau acquired strategic importance when the French embarked upon an expansionist colonial policy. A military post was created in 1864 and the military have marked the city’s development ever since; it is home to a major military base.
At first a simple rail stop, or "escale", on the Dakar-Saint Louis line (completed in 1885) Thiès became a rail junction with the Dakar-Niger line (built 1906-1923). The national network of paved roads created after WWII likewise converged on Thiès, which thus commands nearly all access to the Cap-Vert Peninsula (Dakar and Rufisque).
The railways brought commercial development and migrant laborers, including Bambara from eastern regions of Senegal and from Mali. The rail workers of Thiès played a key role in the immergence of Senegal’s labor movement. Their strikes in 1937 and again in 1947-48 also marked the development of the independence movement across French West Africa.
Thiès is best known for its tapestry-making industry, an exclusive factory having been set up in 1966, producing work designed by Senegal’s top artists. The famous Birds of Paradise tapestry was manufactured in Thiès. The city also contains a polytechnic school, the University of Thiès.
As the transportation hub of a productive agricultural hinterland: rice, peanuts, manioc, millet, and fruit, the city is a leading livestock-trading and meat-packing center. It has rail yards and repair shops, and alumina phosphate deposits are worked at nearby Palo and Taïba.
Today, Thiès is developing increasingly as an extension of the congested Cap-Vert Peninsula. It is attracting industrial investments (electrical and mechanical engineering) and there are plans to link it to Dakar by highway and commuter train.
Thiès is twinned with:
- Much of this article was translated from French Wikipedia's fr:Thiès.
- Thiès public services
- (French) Site of the Mayor of Thiès
- (French) Thiesinfo, Local newspaper webportal
- (French) Situation économique et sociale (For year 2004) (Local government, Service régional de Thiès, September 2005)