Infobox Country
native_name = "République du Sénégal"
conventional_long_name = Republic of Senegal
|common_name = Senegal

national_motto = "Un Peuple, Un But, Une Foi"nbsp|2(French) "One People, One Goal, One Faith"
national_anthem = "Pincez Tous vos Koras, Frappez les Balafons"
official_languages = French
demonym = Senegalese
regional_languages = Wolof (spoken by 94 percent)
capital = Dakar
latd=14 |latm=40 |latNS=N |longd=17 |longm=25 |longEW=W
largest_city = Dakar
government_type = Semi-presidential republic
leader_title1 = President
leader_name1 = Abdoulaye Wade
leader_title2 = Prime Minister
leader_name2 = Cheikh Hadjibou Soumaré
area_rank = 87th
area_magnitude =
area_km2 = 196,723
area_sq_mi = 76,000
percent_water = 2.1
population_estimate = 11,658,000
population_estimate_rank = 72nd
population_estimate_year = 2005
population_census =
population_census_year =
population_density_km2 = 59
population_density_sq_mi = 153
population_density_rank = 137th
GDP_PPP = $20.504 billion
GDP_PPP_rank = 109th
GDP_PPP_year = 2005
GDP_PPP_per_capita = $1,759
GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank = 149th
sovereignty_type = Independence
established_event1 = from France
established_date1 = 20 August 1960
HDI = increase 0.499
HDI_rank = 156th
HDI_year = 2007
HDI_category = low
Gini = 41.3
Gini_year = 1995
Gini_category = medium
currency = CFA franc
currency_code = XOF
country_code =
time_zone = UTC
utc_offset =
time_zone_DST =
utc_offset_DST =
cctld = .sn
calling_code = 221
footnotes =

Senegal ( _fr. le Sénégal), officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country south of the Sénégal River in western Africa. Senegal is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south. The Gambia lies almost entirely within Senegal, surrounded on the north, east and south; from its western coast, Gambia's territory follows the Gambia River more than 300 kilometres (186 miles) inland. Dakar is the capital city of Senegal, located on the Cape Verde Peninsula on the country's Atlantic coast.


Archaeological findings throughout the area indicate that Senegal was inhabited in prehistoric times.

Eastern Senegal was once part of the Empire of Ghana. It was founded by the Tukulor in the middle valley of the Senegal River. Islam, the dominant religion in Senegal, first came to the region in the 11th century. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the area came under the influence of the Mandingo empires to the east; the Jolof Empire of Senegal also was founded during this time.

Various European powers—Portugal, the Netherlands, and Great Britain—competed for trade in the area from the 15th century onward, until in 1677, France ended up in possession of what had become an important slave trade departure point—the infamous island of Gorée next to modern Dakar. Millions of West African people were shipped from here. It was only in the 1850s that the French began to expand their foothold onto the Senegalese mainland, at the expense of native kingdoms such as Waalo, Cayor, Baol, and Jolof.

In January 1959 Senegal and the French Sudan merged to form the Mali Federation, which became fully independent on 20 June 1960, as a result of the independence and the transfer of power agreement signed with France on 4 April 1960. Due to internal political difficulties, the Federation broke up on August 20. Senegal and Sudan (renamed the Republic of Mali) proclaimed independence. Léopold Senghor was elected Senegal's first president in September 1960.

Later after the breakup of the Mali Federation, President Senghor and Prime Minister Mamadou Dia governed together under a parliamentary system. In December 1962 their political rivalry led to an attempted coup by Prime Minister Dia. Although this was put down without bloodshed, Dia was arrested and imprisoned, and Senegal adopted a new constitution that consolidated the president's power. In 1980 President Senghor decided to retire from politics, and he handed power over in 1981 to his handpicked successor, Abdou Diouf.

Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia on 1 February 1982. However, the union was dissolved in 1989. Despite peace talks, a southern separatist group in the Casamance region has clashed sporadically with government forces since 1982. Senegal has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping. [ [] CIA World factbook.]

Abdou Diouf was president between 1981 and 2000. He encouraged broader political participation, reduced government involvement in the economy, and widened Senegal's diplomatic engagements, particularly with other developing nations. Domestic politics on occasion spilled over into street violence, border tensions, and a violent separatist movement in the southern region of the Casamance. Nevertheless, Senegal's commitment to democracy and human rights strengthened. Diouf served four terms as president.

In the presidential election of 2000, opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade defeated Diouf in an election deemed free and fair by international observers. Senegal experienced its second peaceful transition of power, and its first from one political party to another. On 30 December 2004 President Abdoulaye Wade announced that he would sign a peace treaty with the separatist group in the Casamance region. This, however, has yet to be implemented. There was a round of talks in 2005, but the results did not yet yield a resolution.


Senegal is a republic with a powerful presidency; the president is elected every seven years, amended in 2001 to every five years, by universal adult suffrage. The current president is Abdoulaye Wade, re-elected in March 2007. Senegal has more than 80 political parties. The bicameral parliament consists of the National Assembly, which has 120 seats, and the Senate, which has 100 seats and was reinstituted in 2007. [The World Factbook, United States Central Intelligence Agency, accessed Sept. 17, 2008.] An independent judiciary also exists in Senegal. The nation's highest courts that deal with business issues are the constitutional council and the court of justice, members of which are named by the president.

Currently Senegal has a democratic political culture, being one of the more successful post-colonial democratic transitions in Africa. Local administrators are appointed by, and responsible to, the president. The marabouts, religious leaders of the various Senegalese Muslim brotherhoods, also exercise a strong political influence in the country, most notably the leader of the Mouride brotherhood, Serigne Mouhamadou Lamine Bara Mbacke.


Senegal is located on the west of the African continent. The Senegalese landscape consists mainly of the rolling sandy plains of the western Sahel which rise to foothills in the southeast. Here is also found Senegal's highest point, an otherwise unnamed feature near Nepen Diakha at 584 m (1926 ft). The northern border is formed by the Senegal River, other rivers include the Gambia and Casamance Rivers. The capital Dakar lies on the Cap-Vert peninsula, the westernmost point of continental Africa.

The local climate is tropical with well-defined dry and humid seasons that result from northeast winter winds and southwest summer winds. Dakar's annual rainfall of about 600 mm (24 in) occurs between June and October when maximum temperatures average 27 °C (81 °F); December to February minimum temperatures are about 17 °C (63°F). Interior temperatures can be substantially higher than along the coast, and rainfall increases substantially farther south, exceeding 1.5 m (59.1 in) annually in some areas. The far interior of the country, in the region of Tambacounda, particularly on the border or Mali, temperatures can reach as high as 54 °C (130 °F).

The Cape Verde islands lie some km to mi|560 off the Senegalese coast, but Cap Vert ("Cape Green") is a maritime placemark, set at the foot of "Les Mammelles" , a convert|105|m|ft|0|sing=on cliff resting at one end of the Cap Vert peninsula onto which is settled Senegal's capital Dakar, and convert|1|km|yd|-2 south of the "Pointe des Almadies", the western-most point in Africa.

Population of major cities

Regions, departments, and arrondissements

Senegal is subdivided into 11 regions, each administered by a "Conseil Régional" (Regional Council) elected by population weight at the "Arrondissement" level. The country is further subdivided by 34 "Départements", 103 "Arrondissements" (neither of which have administrative function) and by "Collectivités Locales", which elect administrative officers. [ [ List of current local elected officials] from Union des "Associations d’ Elus Locaux (UAEL) du Sénégal". See also the law creating current local government structures: fr icon [ Code des collectivités locales] , Loi n° 96-06 du 22 mars 1996.]

Regional capitals have the same name as their respective regions:

col1 =
* Dakar
* Diourbel
* Fatick
* Kaolack
* Kolda
* Louga
col2 =
* Matam
* Saint-Louis
* Tambacounda
* Thiès
* Ziguinchor


In January 1994 Senegal undertook a bold and ambitious economic reform program with the support of the international donor community. This reform began with a 50 percent devaluation of Senegal's currency, the CFA franc, which was linked at a fixed rate to the former French franc and now to the euro. Government price controls and subsidies have been steadily dismantled. After seeing its economy retract by 2.1 percent in 1993, Senegal made an important turnaround, thanks to the reform program, with real growth in GDP averaging 5 percent annually during the years 1995–2001. Annual inflation was reduced to less than 1 percent, but rose again to an estimated 3.3 percent in 2001. Investment increased steadily from 13.8 percent of GDP in 1993 to 16.5 percent in 1997.

The main industries include food processing, mining, cement, artificial fertilizer, chemicals, textiles, refining imported petroleum, and tourism. Exports include fish, chemicals, cotton, fabrics, groundnuts, and calcium phosphate, and the principal foreign market is India at 26.7 percent of exports (as of 1998). Other foreign markets include the US, Italy, and the UK.

As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Senegal is working toward greater regional integration with a unified external tariff. Senegal also realized full Internet connectivity in 1996, creating a mini-boom in information technology-based services. Private activity now accounts for 82 percent of GDP. On the negative side, Senegal faces deep-seated urban problems of chronic unemployment, socioeconomic disparity, juvenile delinquency, and drug addiction.


In recent years non-governmental organizations have played a significant role in economic and social development in Senegal. Fatou Sarr (in Development, Volume 49, Number 2, June 2006 , pp. 108-115; Palgrave Macmillan) cites as issues, a lack of a stable financial base for some NGOs and vulnerability to manipulation by authorities and donor agencies as ongoing NGO issues in Senegal. Some NGOs, such as USA-based TOSTAN focus their programs on sanitation, education and women's health issues. Others, such as AASED D'Assistance aux Enfant, focus on children. See the external link below: Africa Phonebooks-Senegal NGOs for a list of active NGOs in Senegal.


Senegal has a population of over 11 million, about 70 percent of whom live in rural areas. Density in these areas varies from about PD km2 to mi2|77|precision=0|spell=UK in the west-central region to PD km2 to mi2|2|precision=0|spell=UK in the arid eastern section. According to the "World Refugee Survey 2008", published by the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Senegal has a population of refugees and asylum seekers numbering approximately 23,800 in 2007. The majority of this population (20,200) is from Mauritania. Refugees live in N'dioum, Dodel, and small settlements along the Senegal River valley.cite news|title=World Refugee Survey 2008|publisher=U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants|date=2008-06-19|url=]


Senegal has a wide variety of ethnic groups and, as in most West African countries, several languages are widely spoken. The Wolof are the largest single ethnic group in Senegal at 43 percent; the Peul and Toucouleur (also known as Halpulaar, Fulbe or Fula) (24 percent) are the second biggest group, followed by others that include the Serer (15 percent), Lebou (10 percent), Jola (4 percent), Mandinka (3 percent), Maures or Naarkajors, Soninke, Bassari and many smaller communities (9 percent). (See also the Bedick ethnic group.) About 50,000 Europeans (1 percent) (mostly French) as well as smaller numbers of Mauritanians and Lebanese reside in Senegal, mainly in the cities. Also located primarily in urban settings are the minority Vietnamese communities. From the time of earliest contact between Europeans and Africans along the coast of Senegal, particularly after the establishment of coastal trading posts during the fifteenth century, communities of mixed African and European (mostly French and Portuguese) origin have thrived. Cape Verdeans living in urban areas and in the Casamance region represent another recognized community of mixed African and European background. French is the official language, used regularly by a minority of Senegalese educated in a system styled upon the colonial-era schools of French origin (Koranic schools are even more popular, but Arabic is not widely spoken outside of this context of recitation). Most people also speak their own ethnic language while, especially in Dakar, Wolof is the lingua franca. Pulaar is spoken by the Peuls and Toucouleur. Portuguese Creole is a prominent minority language in Ziguinchor, regional capital of the Casamance, where some residents speak Kriol, primarily spoken in Guinea-Bissau. Cape Verdeans speak their native creole, Cape Verdean Creole, and standard Portuguese.


Islam is the predominant religion, practiced by approximately 95 percent of the country's population; the Christian community, at 4 percent of the population, includes Roman Catholics and diverse Protestant denominations. There is also a 1 percent population who maintain animism in their beliefs, particularly in the southeastern region of the country.


Islamic communities are generally organized around one of several Islamic Sufi orders or brotherhoods, headed by a "khalif" ("xaliifa" in Wolof, from Arabic "khalīfa"), who is usually a direct descendant of the group’s founder. The two largest and most prominent Sufi orders in Senegal are the Tijaniyya, whose largest sub-groups are based in the cities of Tivaouane and Kaolack, and the Murīdiyya (Murid), based in the city of Touba. The Halpulaar, a widespread ethnic group found along the Sahel from Chad to Senegal, representing 20 percent of the Senegalese population, were the first to be converted to Islam. The Halpulaar, composed of various Fula people groups, named "Peuls" and "Toucouleurs" in Senegal. Many of the "Toucouleurs", or sedentary Halpulaar of the Senegal River Valley in the north, converted to Islam around a millennium ago and later contributed to Islam's propagation throughout Senegal. Most communities south of the Senegal River Valley, however, were not thoroughly Islamized until the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During the mid-19th century, Islam became a banner of resistance against the traditional aristocracies and French colonialism, and Tijānī leaders Al-Hajj Umar Tall and Màbba Jaxu Ba established short-lived but influential Islamic states but were both killed in battle and their territories then annexed by the French.

The spread of formal Quranic school (called "daara" in Wolof) during the colonial period increased largely through the effort of the Tijaniyya. In Murid communities, which place more emphasis on the work ethic than on literary Quranic studies, the term "daara" often applies to work groups devoted to working for a religious leader. Other Islamic groups include the much older Qādiriyya order and the Senegalese Laayeen order, which is prominent among the coastal Lebu. Today, most Senegalese children study at "daara"s for several years, memorizing as much of the Qur'an as they can. Some of them continue their religious studies at informal Arabic schools ("majlis") or at the growing number of private Arabic schools and publicly funded Franco-Arabic schools.


Small Roman Catholic communities are mainly found in coastal Serer, Jola, Mankanya and Balant populations, and in eastern Senegal among the Bassari and Coniagui. The Protestant churches are mainly attended by immigrants but during the second half of the twentieth century Protestant churches led by Senegales leaders from different ethnical groups have evolved. In Dakar Catholic and Protestant rites are practiced by , the Lebanese, Capeverdian, European, and American immigrant population, and among certain Africans of other countries as well as by the Senegalese themselves. Although Islam is Senegal's majority religion, Senegal's first president, Léopold Sédar Senghor, was a Catholic Serer.

Other religions

Animism is the other main religion practiced. There are also small numbers of adherents of Judaism and Buddhism. Judaism is followed by members of several ethnic groups, while Buddhism is followed by a number of Vietnamese.


Senegal's musical heritage is better known than that of most African countries, due to the popularity of mbalax, which is a form of Wolof percussive music; it has been popularized by Youssou N'Dour. Sabar drumming is especially popular.

Further reading

width = 260px

col1 =
* Communications in Senegal
* Confédération Sénégalaise du Scoutisme
* Music of Senegal
* Education in Senegal
* Foreign relations of Senegal
* Indigenous cultures "et al"
col2 =
* Agriculture in Senegal
* List of Senegal-related topics
* Military of Senegal
* Senegal national football team
* Transport in Senegal
* University of Dakar


External links

; Government
* [ Gouvernement du Sénégal] —Official governmental website
* [ Embassy of the Republic of Senegal in London] government information and links
* [ Observatoire sur les systèmes d'information, réseaux et inforoutes]

; News
* [ Newspaper Index - Senegal] Online Newspapers in Senegal
* fr icon [ Seneweb Senegal news]
* [ - Senegal] news headline links
* [ SenActu - Senegal] news headline links

;Information Technologies (IT)
* [ Syklon Technologies: Société de Services en Ingenierie Informatique au Sénégal et offshore]

; Non-Governmental Organizations
* [ Africa Phonebooks-Senegal NGOs]

; Overviews
* [ BBC News Country Profile - Senegal]
* [ CIA World Factbook - Senegal]
* [ MSN encarta Senegal overview]
* [ Encyclopaedia Britannica's Country Page - "Senegal"]
* []

; Maps
* [ UN Map on Senegal]

; Literature
* [ Senegalese literature at a glance]

; Music
* [ Cora Connection] West African music resources

; Tourism
* [ Practical information on Senegal with maps, culture, articles ...]
* [ Guided Tours of Senegal]
* [ The Lonely Planet travel guide on Senegal]

; Ethnicity
* fr icon [ Senegals ethnic groups (in french)]

; Other
* []
* [ L'Afrique - Sénégal] Hundreds of photographs and articles
* [ Senegal shows tolerant face of Islam ...]
* [ Movement of the Democratic Force of Casamance]
* [ Mineral resources of Senegal]
* [ Senegal Photos]

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