Senegal officially the Republic of Senegal is a country south of the Sngal 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.

Background History

The French colonies of Senegal and the French Sudan were merged in 1959 and granted their independence as the Mali Federation in 1960. The union broke up after only a few months. Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia in 1982. The envisaged integration of the two countries was never carried out, and the union was dissolved in 1989. The Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance (MFDC) has led a low-level separatist insurgency in southern Senegal since the 1980s, and several peace deals have failed to resolve the conflict. Nevertheless, Senegal remains one of the most stable democracies in Africa and has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation. Senegal was ruled by a Socialist Party for 40 years until current President Abdoulaye Wade was elected in 2000. He was reelected in February 2007 and has amended Senegal's constitution over a dozen times to increase executive power and to weaken the opposition, part of the president's increasingly autocratic governing style. His attempt to change the constitution in June 2011 prompted large public protests and there is speculation that he is planning to run for a third term, despite the constitutional limit of two terms.


Country Name:

  • conventional long form: Republic of Senegal
  • conventional short form: Senegal
  • local long form: Republique du Senegal
  • local short form: Senegal
  • former: Senegambia (along with The Gambia), Mali Federation


  • name: Dakar
  • population: 2,777,000
  • geographic coordinates: 14 40 N, 17 26 W
  • time difference: UTC 0 (5 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)


  • 4 April 1960 (from France)

Government Type:

  • Republic

Executive Branch:

  • chief of state: President Macky Sall (April 2012)
  • head of government: Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye (3 April 2012)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term) under new constitution; prime minister appointed by the president

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: bicameral Parliament consisting of the Senate and the National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Constitutional Council; Council of State; Court of Final Appeals; Court of Appeals

People & Society


  • 12,969,606 (global rank: 71)
  • growth rate: 2.532% (global rank: 28)


  • noun: Senegalese
  • adjective: Senegalese

Major Cities:

  • Dakar (capital): 2.777 million

Ethnic Groups:

  • Wolof 43.3%, Pular 23.8%, Serer 14.7%, Jola 3.7%, Mandinka 3%, Soninke 1.1%, European and Lebanese 1%, other 9.4%


  • Muslim 94%, Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic), indigenous beliefs 1%


  • French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, Mandinka

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 60.18 years (global rank: 189)
  • male: 58.22 years
  • female: 62.19 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 55.16 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 37)
  • male: 61.57 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 48.56 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 0.9% (2009 est.) (global rank: 53)
  • people living with AIDS: 59,000 (2009 est.) (global rank: 56)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 39.3%
  • male: 51.1%
  • female: 29.2%


Overview: Senegal relies heavily on donor assistance. The country's key export industries are phosphate mining, fertilizer production, and commercial fishing. The country is also working on iron ore and oil exploration projects. In January 1994, Senegal undertook a bold and ambitious economic reform program with the support of the international donor community. Government price controls and subsidies have been steadily dismantled. After seeing its economy contract by 2.1% in 1993, Senegal made an important turnaround, thanks to the reform program, with real growth in GDP averaging over 5% annually during 1995-2007. Annual inflation had been pushed down to the single digits. The country was adversely affected by the global economic downturn in 2009 and GDP growth fell to 2%. As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Senegal is working toward greater regional integration with a unified external tariff and a more stable monetary policy. High unemployment, however, continues to prompt illegal migrants to flee Senegal in search of better job opportunities in Europe. Under the IMF's Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief program, Senegal benefited from eradication of two-thirds of its bilateral, multilateral, and private-sector debt. In 2007, Senegal and the IMF agreed to a new, non-disbursing, Policy Support Initiative program which was completed in 2010. The IMF approved a new three-year policy support instrument in December 2010 to assist with economic reforms. Senegal receives disbursements from the $540 million Millennium Challenge Account compact it signed in September 2009 for infrastructure and agriculture development. In 2010, the Senegalese people protested against frequent power cuts. The government pledged to expand power capacity by 2012 and to promote renewable energy, but until Senegal has more capacity, more protests are likely. Foreign investment in Senegal is retarded by Senegal's unfriendly business environment.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $25.4 billion (global rank: 114)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $1,900 (global rank: 189)
  • real growth rate: 4% (global rank: 99)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 15.9%, industry: 21.7%, services: 62.3%


  • currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine Franc (XOF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 466.2


  • population below poverty line: 54%
  • unemployment rate: 48%

Agricultural Products:

  • peanuts, millet, corn, sorghum, rice, cotton, tomatoes, green vegetables; cattle, poultry, pigs; fish


  • agricultural and fish processing, phosphate mining, fertilizer production, petroleum refining; iron ore, zircon, and gold mining, construction materials, ship construction and repair

Exports Commodities:

  • fish, groundnuts (peanuts), petroleum products, phosphates, cotton

Imports Commodities:

  • food and beverages, capital goods, fuels



  • Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania


  • total: 196,722 sq km (global rank: 88)
  • land: 192,530 sq km
  • water: 4,192 sq km
  • comparative: slightly smaller than South Dakota


  • tropical; hot, humid; rainy season (May to November) has strong southeast winds; dry season (December to April) dominated by hot, dry, harmattan wind

Land Use:

  • arable land: 12.51%
  • permanent crops: 0.24%
  • other: 87.25%

Natural Resources:

  • fish, phosphates, iron ore

Current Environmental Issues:

  • wildlife populations threatened by poaching; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; overfishing

Transnational Issues

  • international disputes: The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau attempt to stem separatist violence, cross border raids, and arms smuggling into their countries from Senegal's Casamance region, and in 2006, respectively accepted 6,000 and 10,000 Casamance residents fleeing the conflict; 2,500 Guinea-Bissau residents fled into Senegal in 2006 to escape armed confrontations along the border
  • refugees (country of origin): 19,630 (Mauritania)
  • internally displaced persons: 22,400 (approximately 65% of the IDP population returned in 2005, but new displacement is occurring due to clashes between government troops and separatists in Casamance region)
  • illicit drugs: transshipment point for Southwest and Southeast Asian heroin and South American cocaine moving to Europe and North America; illicit cultivator of cannabis

Published: Monday, September 08, 2008