According to A2zdirectory, Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country south of the Sénégal River in West Africa. Senegal is bordered 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 forms an enclave within Senegal around the Gambia River for more than 300 km inland. The Cape Verde island group lies approximately 560 km west of the Senegalese coast.
Senegal covers an area of 196,712 km² and had a population of 17,923,036 in 2022. The capital and largest city is Dakar at the westernmost tip of the African continent. Since 2014, a second seat of government has been erected in Diamniadio. Other important cities include Thiès and Touba. Senegal forms the westernmost country on the continent of the Old World and Africa-Eurasia. The baobab tree and the lion form the two national symbols of Senegal; both were chosen in recognition of this country’s rich wildlife.
The area of Senegal has been part of the Islamic world since the 12th century and has since been dominated by various African empires. In 1895 it became a French colony and in 1946 part of the French Union. On 4 April 1959, Senegal together with Mali formed the Mali Federation and became independent from France on 4 April 1960, but this federation was dissolved again on 20 August 1960. On February 1, 1982, Senegal and The Gambia formed the Senegambian Confederation, which was dissolved again on September 30, 1989 after The Gambia refused to move closer to a union. Senegal boasts a stable democracy and economic growth. It is a member of the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The country’s name is derived from the Sénégal River, which borders this country in the north and east. The name “Senegal” may have been derived from the Wolof word Sunuu Gaal, meaning “our boat”. According to another theory, the name originates from a Portuguese transliteration of the Zenaga, also known as Sanhaja, name or a combination of the supreme deity in the Serer religion (Rog Sene) and o gal meaning “body of water” means in the Serer language.
Archaeological discoveries throughout the area indicate that Senegal was inhabited in prehistoric times. Islam, the dominant faith in Senegal, first came to the area in the 11th century, when the Almoravid dynasty of North Africa launched campaigns in present-day Senegal. Today 95% of the country’s population are Muslims. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the area came under the influence of the Mandingo kingdoms to the east; the Jolof Empire of Senegal is also established in the period. Some of the other competing empires include Mali and Songhai. Several European powers such as Portugal and the Netherlands came to the area from the 15th century, until France came into possession of what would become an important departure point within the Atlantic slave trade. Facilities on the island of Gorée just south of Dakar bear witness to this to this day.
During the Seven Years’ War (1756–1763), the territory of Senegal was occupied by the Kingdom of Great Britain and ceded by France with the subsequent Treaty of Paris in 1763. After France supported the fledgling United States of America against the United Kingdom during the American War of Independence (1775–1783), Senegal became a French colony with the Peace of Paris in 1783, while Gambia was incorporated into the British Empire. Between 1902 and 1904, the short-lived Senegambia and Niger existed under French colonial authority.
In January 1959 Senegal and French Sudan merged to form the Mali Federation which became fully independent on 20 June 1960, as an outgrowth of the “Independence and Transfer of Power” agreement signed with France on 4 April 1960 is. Due to political obstacles, the Federation dissolves on August 20, 1960. Senegal and French Sudan (renamed the Republic of Mali) declare independence. Léopold Sédar Senghor is elected in August 1960 as Senegal’s first president. He personally wrote the text of the Senegalese national anthem, Le Lion rouge (“The Red Lion”).
After the dissolution of the Mali Federation, President Léopold Sédar Senghor and Prime Minister Mamadou Dia rule together in a parliamentary system. In December 1962, their political rivalry led to a coup attempt by Prime Minister Dia. Although it was suppressed without bloodshed, Dia was arrested and sent to prison. Senegal adopts a new constitution that consolidates the president’s power. In 1980, President Senghor decided to retire from politics and handed over the reins to his chosen successor, Abdou Diouf, in 1981.
Senegal united with Gambia in a nominal confederation, Senegambia, on 1 February 1982. However, the union was dissolved in 1989. Despite peace talks, a southern separatist group in the Casamance area has sporadically clashed with government forces since 1982. Senegal has a long history of participation in international peacekeeping.
Abdou Diouf was president between 1981 and 2000. He encouraged wider political participation, reduced government involvement in the economy and broadened Senegal’s diplomatic relations, especially with other developing countries. Domestic politics occasionally spill over into street violence, border tensions and a violent separatist movement in the southern region of Casamance. Nevertheless, Senegal is strengthening its commitment to democracy and human rights. Diouf serves four terms as president. In the presidential election of 2000, he was defeated, in a free and fair election, by opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade. Senegal is experiencing its second peaceful transition in power and the first from one political party to another. On January 22, 2001, the fourth and current constitution of Senegal was approved after a referendum.
On December 30, 2004, President Abdoulaye Wade announced that he would sign a peace treaty with the separatist group in the Casamance region. President Macky Sall held peace talks with rebels in Rome in December 2012.
In March 2012, Macky Sall was elected the new president of Senegal and succeeded Abdoulaye Wade. This peaceful and democratic transition was welcomed by many foreign observers, such as the European Union, and praised as an example for Africa.
Senegal is located on the west side of the African continent. The Sahara Desert is located just north one east of Senegal and is separated from that country by the river of the same name; Senegal is therefore part of Africa south of the Sahara. The north is characterized by the less dry and more fertile Sahel and the south by the Sudan area. The latter receives more rainfall than the Sahel and is suitable for agriculture.
The Senegalese landscape consists mainly of undulating sandy plains of the western Sahel rising to foothills in the southeast. Senegal’s highest point is also found here, an otherwise unnamed 581 m high point near Nepen Diakha. The northern border is formed by the Sénégal River, other rivers include the Gambia and the Casamance River. The capital Dakar lies on the Cap-Vert peninsula, the most western point of the African continent.
Senegal has a tropical climate with pleasant warmth throughout the year with well-defined dry and humid seasons which are the result of north-easterly winter winds and south-westerly summer winds. The dry season (December to April) is dominated by hot and dry harmattan winds.
Dakar’s annual rainfall of about 600 mm occurs between June and October when average temperatures vary between a maximum of 30 °C (86 °F) and a minimum of 24.2 °C (75.6 °F); the mercury reaches a maximum of 25.7 °C (78.3 °F) and a minimum of 18 °C (64.4 °F) between December and February.
Inland temperatures are higher along the coast (for example, the average daily temperature in Kaolack and Tambacounda is 30 °C (86 °F) and 32.7 °C (90.9 °F), respectively, compared to Dakar’s 23.2 ° C (73.8 °F), and the rainfall increases significantly further south, with at most 1500 mm (59.1 in) annually in some areas.
In the far interior of Tambacounda, especially along the border with Mali where the desert begins, the mercury can rise to 54 °C (129.2 °F). The northernmost part of the country has almost a hot desert climate, the central part has a hot semi-arid climate and the southernmost part a tropical wet and dry climate. Senegal is primarily a sunny and dry country.
Senegal is subdivided into 14 regions or regions, each of which is administered by a Conseil Régional (local council) elected by the population at Arrondissement level. The country is further divided into 45 Départements, 113 Arrondissements (none of them have an administrative function) and Collectivités Locales, which elect administrative officers.
So far, all the regional names have been derived from their local capitals.
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Local administrators are all appointed and are responsible to the president.
Senegal is a republic with a powerful presidency; the president used to be elected every seven years – changed to every five years in 2001 – by universal adult suffrage. The current president and head of state is Macky Sall.
Senegal also has 80 political parties that contribute to the development of the country through successful transition to democracy. The unicameral parliament consists of the national assembly with 150 members who are elected separately from the president. Between 1999 and 2001 and again from 2007 to 2012, Senegal also had a senate, but on September 19, 2012, lawmakers decided to abolish the Senegalese senate in order to save $15 million. A unicameral legislature and a fair and independent judiciary also exist in Senegal. The country’s highest courts that deal with business matters are the constitutional council and the court of justice whose members are nominated by the president.
Senegal has a reputation for transparency in government action. The level of economic corruption that has harmed the development of economies in other parts of the world is low. Today, Senegal has built a democratic political culture on one of the most successful democratic transitions in Africa. Senegal recognizes and respects all cultures, religions and traditions. According to Transparency International’s ranking of corruption, Senegal has been able to improve its position as one of the few African countries since 2012 and is now placed on the same level as Hungary and Belarus. In 2008, Senegal was ranked 12th in the Ibrahim Index of African Government. When the North African countries were included in the Index in 2009, Senegal’s position deteriorated slightly in 2008 to 15th place (with Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco being ranked higher). In 2012, Senegal’s place in the Ibrahim Index of African Government deteriorated by one point to 16th out of 52 African countries. According to the 2018 index for 2017, Senegal finished in 10th place.
Senegal enjoys a high reputation in many international organizations and has twice been a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, in 1988–1989 and 2015–2016. It was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in 1997. Senegal has good relations with Western countries, especially France and the United States, and this country is also a strong advocate for developed countries to support the Third World more.
Senegal is part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In addition, Senegal is also a member of the African Union (AU) and the Community of Sahel-Saharan States, and subsequently integrated into the main bodies of the international community.
Senegal’s economy relies especially on mining, construction, tourism, fishing and agriculture, which form the main sources of income. In 2017, the economy grew by about 7% compared to 2016. Some of the most important trading partners for exports (2017 figures) include Mali (14.8%), Switzerland (11.4%), India (6%), Ivory Coast (5.3%), United Arab Emirates (5.1 %), Gambia (4.2%) and Spain (4.1%). Import partners are France (16.3%), People’s Republic of China (10.4%), Nigeria (8%), India (7.2%), Netherlands (4.8%) and Spain (4.2%).
Senegal exported goods worth $2.362 billion in 2017 – compared to 2016’s $2.498 billion. The main exports include fish, peanuts, crude oil products, phosphates and cotton. In the same year, Senegal imported goods worth $5.217 billion, up from 2016’s $4.966 billion. The most important imports are food and drink, capital goods and fuels.
In January 1994, Senegal undertook a bold and ambitious economic reform program with the support of the international donor community. The reforms begin with a 50 percent devaluation of Senegal’s currency, the CFA franc, which is pegged to the former French franc and currently the euro at a fixed rate. Government price controls and subsidies are being systematically dismantled. After the country’s economy shrank by 2.1 percent in 1993, Senegal is performing an important turnaround, thanks to the reform program, with real growth in GDP averaging five percent per year in the period 1995–2001. Annual inflation has been reduced to below one percent, but rises again to an estimated 3.3 percent in 2001. Investment rises sharply from 13.8 percent of GDP in 1993 to 16.5 percent in 1997.
As a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Senegal works for greater regional integration with uniform external tariffs. Senegal also already achieved full Internet connection by 1996, thereby creating a mini-boom in information technology -based services. Private activity now amounts to 82% of GDP. On the negative side, Senegal faces serious urban problems of chronic unemployment, militant unions, juvenile delinquency and drug addiction.
Senegal has a population of about 18 million, of which about 70% live in rural areas. Density in the areas varies between about 77 km² in the west-central area to 2 km² in the dry eastern part.
The Wolof are the largest single group in Senegal with 37.1%, other ethnic groups include Fula (26.2%), Serer (17%), Mandinka (5.6%), Jola (4.5%), Soninke (1.4%), alongside numerous smaller communities. About 50,000 Europeans (mostly French) and Lebanese live in Senegal, mainly in the cities. Among those in the cities also count any Han Chinese and Vietnamese minorities.
Senegal has a wide variety of ethnic groups and as a result multiple languages are spoken. French is the official language but only the literate minority use it regularly. Some of the other languages include Wolof, Fula, Jola, Mandinka, Serer and Soninke. In the southeast, Bambara is also occupied. A growing Senegalese nationalist language movement is advocating for the recognition of Wolof in the national constitution.
Although French is the official language of Senegal, it is rarely used in everyday life. Most ethnic groups use their own mother tongues for communication. In the capital Dakar, Wolof forms the lingua franca. Fula is occupied by the Fula and Toucouleur. Serer is occupied by both Serers and non-Serers. Jola languages are mainly spoken in the Casamance region, where Portuguese is also present, especially by immigrants from neighboring Guinea-Bissau. Arabic is rarely used and is mainly used by Muslims as a liturgical language.
According to its 2001 constitution, Senegal is a secular state. Next, all cultures, religions and traditions are recognized and respected. Islam is the predominant faith, followed by about 94 percent of the country’s population; the Christian community, at four percent of the population, includes Roman Catholic and various Protestant churches. Small religious groups include Judaism, Buddhism and Baha’i. Some Serer are also followers of the Serer religion. Boukout is one of the Jola’s religious ceremonies.
Islamic communities are generally organized around one of several Sufi orders or brotherhoods, led by a khalif (xaliifa in Wolof, from Arabic khalīfah), who is usually a direct descendant of the group’s founder. The largest and most prominent Sufi orders in Senegal are the Tijaniyya, the largest sub-groups of which are based in the cities of Tivaouane and Kaolack, and the Mur diyya (Murid), based in the city of Touba. The Halpulaar, a widespread ethnic group found all along the Sahel from Chad to Senegal, representing 20 percent of the Senegalese population, were the first to convert to Islam. The Halpular, composed of several Fula ethnic groups, called Peul and Toucouleur in Senegal. Many of the Toucouleurs, or settled Halpular of the Senegal River valley in the north, converted to Islam about a millennium ago and later contribute to the spread of Islam throughout Senegal. However, most communities south of the Senegal River valley did not fully Islamize until the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During the mid-nineteenth century, Islam became an important banner under which resistance was waged against the traditional aristocracies and French colonialism, and Tij_n_ leaders Al-Hajj Umar Tall and Màbba Jaxu Ba established short-lived but influential Islamic states. However, both die in war and their empires are annexed by the French.
The expansion of formal Koranic schools (called daara in Wolof) during the colonial period increased largely due to the work done by the Tijaniyya. In Murid communities, which place more emphasis on the work ethic than on literal Qur’anic studies, the term daara is frequently applied to work groups dedicated to working for a religious leader. Other Islamic groups include the much older Qadiriyya order and the Senegalese Layeen order, which is prominent among the coastal Lebu. Today, most Senegalese children study with daaras for several years, memorizing as much of the Qur’an as they can. Some continue their religious studies at informal Arabic schools (majlis) or at the growing number of private Arabic schools and publicly funded Franco-Arab schools.
Small Roman Catholic communities are found mainly in coastal Serer, Diola and Balant populations, and in eastern Senegal among the Bassari and Coniagui. In Dakar, Catholic and Protestant customs are also observed by a portion of the Lebanese, Cape Verdean, European and American immigrant populations, and among some of the residents from elsewhere in Africa. Although Islam is Senegal’s majority religion, Senegal’s first president, Léopold Sédar Senghor, was a Catholic Serer.
Senegal is best known for the West African tradition of griot storytelling, which has kept West African history alive through words and music for centuries. The griot work is passed down from generation to generation and requires years of training and apprenticeship in genealogy, history and music. Griots keep generations of West African society’s old stories alive.
Hospitality is considered a very important part of Senegalese culture and is widely considered part of the national identity. Teranga is the Wolof word for “hospitality”.
Ousmane Sembène, the Senegalese writer and film director, is considered the “father of African cinema “. Other notable writers include Nafissatou Dia Diouf, Khady Hane and Khady Sylla.
The ” African Renaissance monument” was erected in Dakar between 2006 and 2010 and is currently the largest statue in Africa. The film festival Recidak is held annually in Dakar.
Due to Senegal’s coast along the Atlantic Ocean, fish is very important. Chicken, mutton, peas, eggs and beef are also used in Senegalese cuisine, but not pork due to the country’s large Muslim population. Peanuts, Senegal’s main crop, as well as couscous, white rice, sweet potatoes, lentils, black-eyed peas and various vegetables are also used in many recipes. Meat and vegetables are typically stewed or marinated in herbs and spices, and then served with rice or couscous or enjoyed with bread.
Popular fresh juices are made from hibiscus, ginger, buy (pronounced ‘buoy’, the fruit of the African cream tart tree, also known as “gourd tree”), fiber peach, or other fruits or wild trees (the most famous of which is soursac, which in French is corossol named). Desserts are very rich and sweet and combine indigenous ingredients with the extravagance and style characteristics of the French influence on the Senegalese eating habits. They are often served with fresh fruit and often followed by coffee or tea.
Senegal is known throughout Africa for its musical heritage, due to the popularity of mbalax, with its origins in the Serer’s percussion traditions, especially the Njuup ; it gained popularity through Youssou N’Dour, Omar Pene and other artists. Sabar drums are especially popular. The sabar is often used on special occasions such as weddings. Another instrument, the tama, is used by other ethnic groups. Some of the other world-famous Senegalese musicians include Ismael Lô, Cheikh Lô, Orchestra Baobab, Baaba Maal, Akon, Thione Seck, Viviane, Titi and Pape Diouf.
Most sports were brought to Senegal by the French, while this country also has an indigenous popular sport. Soccer and wrestling are the two most popular sports in Senegal, followed by basketball. In 2022, Dakar would host the Youth Olympic Games, the first Olympic Games in Africa. However, it was postponed to 2026 due to the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. Between 1979 and 2007, the Dakar Rally ended in Dakar, after starting in Paris. But due to security concerns in Mauritania, the race was canceled in 2008 and moved to South America in 2009.
Wrestling is Senegal’s most popular sport and has become a national obsession. It often serves young men to escape poverty and is the only sport that has developed independently of Western culture.
Soccer is one of the most successful sports in Senegal. 2002 was previously the most successful year, after the Senegalese national football team finished as runners-up at the Africa Cup of Nations in Mali and at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan and South Korea, beating defending champions France and finally reaching the quarter-finals. The Senegalese national football team is known as the “lions of Teranga” (Les Lions de la Téranga) and is currently coached by former Senegalese football player Aliou Cissé. Famous Senegalese footballers include El Hadji Diouf, Khalilou Fadiga, Henri Camara, Papa Bouba Diop, Salif Diao, Ferdinand Coly and Sadio Mané, all of whom play for clubs in Europe. Senegal also qualified for the 2018 FIFA Soccer World Cup in Russia and together with Japan, Colombia and Poland decided matches in Group H. At the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, Senegal reached the final for the second time, but they were beaten 0–1 by Algeria. In 2022, Senegal won the African Nations Cup for the first time, after defeating Egypt in the final. Later that year, they faced the Netherlands, the hosts and Ecuador in Group A at the 22nd FIFA World Cup in Qatar and reached the eighth final.
In basketball, Senegal is one of Africa’s most successful countries and the men’s national team was able to reach the play-offs in 2014, the first African team to succeed in it. In 2016, the NBA announced the launch of an Elite Academy in Africa, more precisely in Senegal.