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|Republic of Senegal
République du Sénégal (French)
|Motto: "Un Peuple, Un But, Une Foi" (French)
"One People, One Goal, One Faith"
|Anthem: Pincez Tous vos Koras, Frappez les Balafons|
and largest city
|Recognised regional languages||Wolof, Soninke, Seereer-Siin, Fula, Maninka, Diola,|
|-||Prime Minister||Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye|
|-||from France with French Sudan as the Mali Federation||4 April 1960|
|-||from Mali Federation||20 August 1960|
|-||Total||196,723 km2 ( 87th)
76,000 sq mi
|-||2009 estimate||13,711,597 ( 67th)|
|-||Density||69.7/km2 ( 134th)
|GDP ( PPP)||2010 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2010 estimate|
Error: Invalid HDI value · 166th
|Currency|| CFA franc (
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||SN|
Senegal ( / /; French: le Sénégal), officially the Republic of Senegal (République du Sénégal, IPA: [ʁepyblik dy seneɡal]), is a country south of the Sénégal River in western Africa. It owes its name to the river that borders it to the East and North and that originates from the Fouta Djallon in Guinea. Senegal is externally bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south; internally it almost completely surrounds The Gambia, namely on the north, east and south, exempting Gambia's short Atlantic Ocean coastline. Senegal covers a land area of almost 197,000 square kilometres (76,000 sq mi), and has an estimated population of about 14 million. The climate is tropical with two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.
Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, is located at the westernmost tip of the country on the Cap-Vert peninsula. About 500 kilometres (300 mi) off the coast, in the Atlantic Ocean, lie the Cape Verde Islands. During the 17th and 18th centuries, numerous trading posts, belonging to various colonial empires, were established along the coast. The town of St Louis became the capital of French Western Africa (Afrique-Occidentale française, or AOF) before it was moved to Dakar in 1902. Dakar later became its capital in 1960 at the time of independence from France.
The origin of the name Senegal is controversial. One possible source is in 1850 in the abbot David Boilat's Esquisses sénégalaises ("Senegalese Sketches"), one sees a deformation of the Wolof phrase suñu gaal, which means "our canoe". This is the version most often relayed in the media. This theory has been contested since the 1960s, and other etymologies have been advanced; for example, some state that the name is connected to that of a Berber tribe from the Sahara, the Zenaga. The scientific debate tends to favour the Zenaga theory today.
16th C. Portuguese chronicler João de Barros, however, says the river's original local Wolof name was Ovedech ( Góis records Sonedech), but that it was subsequently referred to as Rio do Çanagà by the Portuguese after the personal name of a local chieftan or merchant in that area that Portuguese traders frequently dealt with.
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 empires to the east; the Jolof Empire of Senegal also was founded during this time. In the Senegambia region, between 1300 and 1900, close to one-third of the population was enslaved. 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 a minor slave trade departure point—the island of Gorée next to modern Dakar, used as a base to purchase slaves from the warring chiefdoms on the mainland.
The first kingdoms were created around the 7th century, the Tekrour, the Namandirou kingdom and then the Djolof with distant ties to the Ghana empire. In the 14th century the Djolof kingdom became a powerful empire having regrouped the Cayor, the Baol, the Sine and Saloum, the Waalo, the Fouta-Toro and the Bambouk kingdoms. The empire was founded by Ndiadiane N’diaye who was able to form a coalition with many ethnicities but collapsed around 1549 with the defeat and killing of Lele Fouli Fak by Amari Ngone Sobel Fall. French colonialists progressively invaded and took over all kingdoms under their governor Louis Faidherbe. Islam was introduced in Senegal between the 8th and 9th century by Berber merchants. They peacefully converted the Toucouleurs and Sarakholles who in turn propagated it. Later on, in the 11th century, the Almoravids, with the help of the Toucouleurs used Jihad as a mean of conversion. This movement faced resistance from ethnicities of traditional religion and caused them to moved away further in the country (Sineisties) and to the South( Casamance). Eventually, Berbers won a peaceful conversion thanks to the intervention of leaders like Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba, El Hadj Malick Sy, and Seydina Limamou Laye who were able to convince their followers. They saw Islam as a way to unite and fight against colonial power. The populations were getting weary of repeated jihads and forced colonization. Europeans missionaries introduced Christianity to the Sine and Casamance in the 19th century. An emblematic figure of Casamance is Aline Sitoe Diatta, a woman who led the resistance movement against European colonialists.
It was only in the 1850s that the French began to expand onto the Senegalese mainland (by now rid of slavery and promoting abolitionist doctrine), adding native chiefdoms such as Waalo, Cayor, Baol, and Jolof. Senegalese chiefs' resistance to the French expansion and curtailing of their lucrative slave trade was led in part by Lat-Dior, Damel (great chief) of Cayor.
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 20 August. Senegal and French Sudan (renamed the Republic of Mali) proclaimed independence. Léopold Senghor was proclaimed Senegal's first president in September 1960. Senghor was a very well read man, educated in France. He was a poet, a philosopher and personally drafted the Senegalese national anthem, "Pincez tous vos koras, frappez les balafons". As such he was not really a politician but was handed the presidency by the French authorities who saw in him a brilliant and peaceful man and not a revolutionary like Ahmed Sekou Toure of the neighboring Guinea
Later, after the breakup of the Mali Federation, President Senghor and Prime Minister Mamadou Dia governed together under a parliamentary system. Senghor always feared his Prime Minister who was a very charismatic figure and a hard-liner. In December 1962, he accused him of an attempted coup and Dia was wrongfully convicted of treason and briefly jailed. Senegal adopted a new constitution that consolidated the president's power. In 2006, the current president Abdoulaye Wade vacated the conviction and bestowed upon him a Medal of Honour. In 1980, President Senghor decided to retire from politics, and he handed power over in 1981 to his handpicked successor, Abdou Diouf. Mamadou Dia ran for reelection in 1983 against Abdou Diouf but lost. Senghor moved to France where he later died at the age of 96 having been married to a French woman.
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 had clashed sporadically with government forces since 1982. Senegal has had a long history of participating in international peacekeeping.
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 1999, 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 presidency; the president is elected every five years as of 2001, previously being seven years, by adult votes. 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. 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. In 2009, however, Freedom House downgraded Senegal's status from 'Free' to 'Partially Free', based on increased centralisation of power in the executive.
In 2008, Senegal finished in tenth position on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. The Ibrahim Index is a comprehensive measure of sub-Saharan African governance, based on a number of different variables which reflect the success with which governments deliver essential political goods to its citizens. In 2009, Senegal's ranking slipped substantially, to seventeenth but rose to third out of the original 53 countries in 2008. place; however, this is partially accounted for by the addition of Northern African nations to the rankings.
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 (1,916 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 Cape Verde islands lie some 560 kilometres (350 mi) off the Senegalese coast, but Cap Vert ("Cape Green") is a maritime placemark, set at the foot of "Les Mammelles" , a 105-metre (344 ft) cliff resting at one end of the Cap Vert peninsula onto which is settled Senegal's capital Dakar, and 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) south of the "Pointe des Almadies", the western-most point in Africa.
The local climate is tropical with well-defined dry and humid seasons that result from northeast winter winds and southwest summer winds. The dry season (December to April) is dominated by hot, dry, harmattan wind. Dakar's annual rainfall of about 600 mm (24 in) occurs between June and October when maximum temperatures average 30 °C (86.0 °F) and minimums 24.2 °C (75.6 °F); December to February maximum temperatures average 25.7 °C (78.3 °F) and minima 18 °C (64.4 °F). Interior temperatures are higher than along the coast (for example, average daily temperatures in Kaolack and Tambacounda for May are 30 °C (86.0 °F) and 32.7 °C (90.9 °F) respectively, compared to Dakar's 23.2 °C (73.8 °F) ), and rainfall increases substantially farther south, exceeding 1,500 mm (59.1 in) annually in some areas. In the far interior of the country, in the region of Tambacounda, particularly on the border of Mali, temperatures can reach as high as 54 °C (129.2 °F).
Senegal is subdivided into 14 regions, each administered by a Conseil Régional ( Regional Council) elected by population weight at the Arrondissement level. The country is further subdivided by 45 Départements, 103 Arrondissements (neither of which have administrative function) and by Collectivités Locales, which elect administrative officers.
Regional capitals have the same name as their respective regions:
Senegal's capital of Dakar is by far the largest city in Senegal, with over two million residents. The second most populous city is Touba, a de jure communaute rurale (rural community), with half a million.
|Dakar (Dakar proper, Guédiawaye, and Pikine)||2,145,193|
|Touba (Touba Mosquee)||475,755|
After its economy retracted by 2.1% in 1993 Senegal instigated a major economic reform program with the support of the international donor community. This reform began with a 50% devaluation of the country's currency (the CFA franc). Government price controls and subsidies were also dismantled. As a result, Senegal's inflation went down, investments went up, and the Gross domestic product rose approximately 5% a year between 1995 and 2001.
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 United States, Italy and the United Kingdom.
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 is also a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa ( OHADA).
Senegal 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 high unemployment, socioeconomic disparity, and juvenile delinquency.
Senegal is a major recipient of international development assistance. Donors include USAID, Japan, France and China. Over 3000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Senegal since 1963.
Senegal has a population of over 12.5 million, about 42 percent of whom live in rural areas. Density in these areas varies from about 77 inhabitants per square kilometre (200 /sq mi) in the west-central region to 2 per square kilometre (5.2 /sq mi) 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.
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 Fula and Toucouleur (also known as Halpulaar'en, literally " Pulaar-speakers") (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 (mostly French) and Lebanese as well as smaller numbers of Mauritanians and Moroccans reside in Senegal, mainly in the cities. The majority of Lebanese work in commerce. Also located primarily in urban settings are small Vietnamese communities as well as a growing number of Chinese immigrant traders, each numbering perhaps a few hundred people. There are also tens of thousands of Mauritanian refugees in Senegal, primarily in the country's north.
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 Verdean migrants and their descendants 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 Fulas 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.
Public expenditure on health was at 2.4 % of the GDP in 2004, whereas private expenditure was at 3.5 %. Health expenditure was at US$ 72 (PPP) per capita in 2004. The fertility rate was at about 5.2 in the early 2000s. There were 6 physicians per 100,000 persons in the early 2000s. Infant mortality was at 77 per 1,000 live births in 2005.
Islam is the predominant religion, practiced by approximately 90 percent of the country's population; the Christian community, at 10 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 ( Pulaar-speakers), composed of Fula people, a widespread group found along the Sahel from Chad to Senegal, and Toucouleurs, represent 20 percent of the Senegalese population. Historically, they were the first in the area to convert to Islam.
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 daaras 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. A modern messianic sect in Islam, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is also present in the country.
About 10% of the population of Senegal adheres to Christianity. 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 Senegalese leaders from different ethnic groups have evolved. In Dakar Catholic and Protestant rites are practiced by the Lebanese, Cape Verdean, European, and American immigrant populations, 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.
Animism, once widely practiced, has declined in Senegal in recent decades, though some Muslims and Christians incorporate elements of animism in their worship. There are 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.
The Bahá'í Faith in Senegal was established after `Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, mentioned Africa as a place that should be more broadly visited by Bahá'ís. The first Bahá'is to set foot in the territory of French West Africa that would become Senegal arrived in 1953. The first Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assembly of Senegal was elected in 1966 in Dakar. In 1975 the Bahá'í community elected the first National Spiritual Assembly of Senegal. The most recent estimate, by the Association of Religion Data Archives in a 2005 report details the population of Senegalese Bahá'ís at 22,000.
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; it has been popularized by Youssou N'Dour. Sabar drumming is especially popular. The sabar is mostly used in special celebrations like weddings. Another instrument, the tama, is used in more ethnic groups. Other popular Senegalese musicians are Ismael Lô, Orchestra Baobab, Baba Maal, Thione Seck, Akon, Viviane, Titi, and Pape Diouf.
Articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution adopted in January 2001 guarantee access to education for all children. Education is compulsory and free up to the age of 16. The Ministry of Labor has indicated that the public school system is unable to cope with the number of children that must enroll each year. Illiteracy is high, particularly among women. The net primary enrollment rate was 69 % in 2005. Public expenditure on education was 5.4 % of the 2002–2005 GDP.
Hospitality is given such importance in Senegalese culture that it is widely considered to be part of the national identity. The Wolof word for hospitality is "teranga", and it is so identified with the pride of Senegal that the national football team is known as the Lions of Teranga.