Senegal has been held up as one of Africa's model democracies. It has a multi-party system and a tradition of civilian rule. Although poverty is widespread and unemployment is high, the country has one of the region's more stable economies For the Senegalese, political participation and peaceful leadership changes are not new. Even as a colony Senegal had representatives in the French parliament. And the promoter of African culture, Leopold Senghor, who became president at independence in 1960, voluntarily handed over power to Abdou Diouf in 1980.
Senegal is on the western-most part of the bulge of Africa and includes desert in the north and a moist, tropical south. The country surrounds Gambia on three sides and is bordered on the north by Mauritania, on the east by Mali, and on the south by Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Senegal is mainly a low-lying country, with a semidesert area in the north and northeast and forests in the southwest. The largest rivers include the Senegal in the north and the Casamance in the southern tropical climate region. The capital Dakar is a modern city of 1.5 million with beautiful contemporary buildings.

The first recorded history of Senegal begins in the 8th century when Ghana ruled part of Senegal. It stayed a part of the Ghanaian empire until the 11th century, when the inhabitants of Senegal, the Toucouleur, converted to Islam in the 11th century, although their religious beliefs retained strong elements of animism. The Portuguese had some stations on the banks of the Senegal River in the 15th century, and the first French settlement was made at St.-Louis in 1659. Gorée Island became a major center for the Atlantic slave trade through the 1700s, and millions of Africans were shipped from there to the New World. The British took parts of Senegal at various times, but the French gained possession in 1840 and made it part of French West Africa in 1895. In 1946, together with other parts of French West Africa, Senegal became an overseas territory of France. On June 20, 1960, it formed an independent republic federated with Mali, but the federation collapsed within four months.

Senegal's first president, Léopold Sédar Senghor who retired in1981, replaced multiparty democracy with an authoritarian regime. In 1973 Senegal and six other nations created the West African Economic Community. When rising oil prices and fluctuations in the price of peanuts, a major export crop, ruined the economy in the 1970s, Senghor reversed course. He emphasized new industries such as tourism and fishing. When the economy continued to stagnate, and with it Senghor's popularity, he resigned after 20 years at the helm in favor of his protégé, Abdou Diouf. Diouf, who led the country for the next 20 years, initiated further economic and political liberalization, In March 2000, opposition party challenger Abdoulaye Wade won 60% of the vote in multiparty elections. Diouf stepped aside in what was hailed as a rare smooth transition of power in Africa. In Jan. 2001, the Senegalese voted in a new constitution that legalized opposition parties and granted women equal property rights with men.

President Macky Sall
Prime Minister
Souleymane Ndéné Ndiaye

Quick Facts

Official Name
Republic of Senegal
Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania

10.6 million


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


Islam 94%, Christian 5%, indigenous 1%


Wolof 43.3%, Fulani 23.8%, Serer 14.7%, Diola 3.7%, Mandingo 3%, Soninke 1.1%, European and Lebanese 1%, other 9.4%


Multiparty democratic republic.


Abdoulaye Wade (2000)

Prime Minister

Macky Sall (2004)

National Holiday

Independence Day, 4 April (1960)


CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine)

agricultural and fish processing, phosphate mining, fertilizer production, petroleum refining, construction materials, ship construction and repair
fish, groundnuts (peanuts), petroleum products, phosphates, cotton.

foods and beverages, capital goods, fuels
Major trading partners: India, France, Mali, Italy, Côte d'Ivoire, Spain, Nigeria, Thailand

Retba- The Pink Lake
One of nature’s miracles can be found some 20 miles from Dakar.
A completely pink lake! It is shallow, warm and surrounded by white foam. Everything floats on it because of its high salinity.
The site is in the middle of the 'garden belt' outside Dakar, which produces huge quantities of flowers and vegetables for domestic consumption and export. Men farm the gardens, but women control the sale at all levels, except the export. The lake is particularly spectacular at dawn and dusk. Feldspar deposits reflecting the sunlight through the salty waters produce the unique vibrant pink color.

Senegal Sports
Wrestling in Senegal involves a hard-hitting mix of bare-knuckle boxing and orthodox wrestling. It transcends all ethnic groups and enjoys the status of national sport. Traditionally, young men used to fight as a distraction, to court wives, prove their manliness, and bring honor to their villages. Presently, wrestling is arranged by business-promoters who offer prizes for the winners.