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Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country south of the Senegal 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 Abdoulaye Wade was elected president in 2000. He was reelected in 2007 and during his two terms amended Senegal's constitution over a dozen times to increase executive power and to weaken the opposition. His decision to run for a third presidential term sparked a large public backlash that led to his defeat in a March 2012 runoff election with Macky Sall.



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
  • 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 Mohammed Abdallah Boun Dionne (since 4 July 2014)
  • cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president
  • elections: president elected by popular vote for a seven-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held on 26 February 2012 with a second round runoff on 25 March 2012 (next to be held 2019); prime minister appointed by the president

Legislative Branch:

  • structure: unicameral National Assembly

Judicial Branch:

  • structure: Highest Appeals Court; Constitutional Council; Court of Appeals; regional and first instance courts


People & Society


  • 13,635,927 (global rank: 73)
  • growth rate: 2.48% (global rank: 32)


  • noun: Senegalese
  • adjective: Senegalese

Major Cities:

  • Dakar (capital): 3.393 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% (most adhere to one of the four main Sufi brotherhoods), Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic), indigenous beliefs 1%


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

Life Expectancy at Birth:

  • total population: 60.95 years (global rank: 193)
  • male: 58.94 years
  • female: 63.02 years

Infant Mortality:

  • total population: 52.72 deaths/1,000 live births (global rank: 35)
  • male: 58.91 deaths/1,000 live births
  • female: 46.35 deaths/1,000 live births


  • adult prevalence rate: 0.46% (2013 est.) (global rank: 68)
  • people living with AIDS: 38,700 (2012 est.) (global rank: 62)


  • definition: age 15 and over can read and write
  • total population: 52.1%
  • male: 66.3%
  • female: 40.4%



Overview: Senegal’s economy is driven by agriculture and that sector is the primary source of employment for the rural areas. 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. Senegal relies heavily on donor assistance and foreign direct investment. President Macky Sall, who was elected in March 2012 under a reformist policy agenda, inherited an economy with a weak infrastructure, challenging business environment, and a culture of overspending that still plagued the country in 2013. The IMF completed a non-dispersing, Policy Support Initiative program in December 2010 and approved a new three-year policy support instrument to assist with economic reforms. The economy continues to suffer from unreliable power supplies and rising costs of living, which has led to public protests and high unemployment and has prompted migrants to flee Senegal in search of better job opportunities in Europe.

Gross Domestic Product:

  • GDP (PPP): $33.68 billion (global rank: 119)
  • GDP per capita (PPP): $2,300 (global rank: 199)
  • real growth rate: 4.5% (global rank: 59)
  • composition by sector: agriculture: 15.6%, industry: 23.8%, services: 60.6%


  • currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine Franc (XOF)
  • exchange rate (per US Dollar): 491.2


  • 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: 17.4%
  • permanent crops: 0.34%
  • other: 82.26%

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 southern Senegal's Casamance region
  • refugees (country of origin): 13,697 (Mauritania)
  • internally displaced persons: up to 24,000 (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: Friday, April 24, 2015