Senegal

Republic of Senegal

President: Macky Sall (2012)

Prime Minister: Aminata Touré (2013)

Land area: 74,131 sq mi (191,999 sq km); total area: 75,749 sq mi (196,190 sq km)

Population (2012 est.): 12,969,606 (growth rate: 2.53%); birth rate: 36.19/1000; infant mortality rate: 55.16/1000; life expectancy: 60.18; density per sq mi: 169.1

Capital and largest city (2005 est.): Dakar, 2,452,656

Monetary unit: CFA Franc

National name: République du Sénegal

Current government officials

Languages: French (official); Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, Mandinka

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

Religions: Islam 94%, Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic), indigenous 1%

Literacy rate: 40% (2003 est.)

Economic summary: GDP/PPP (2011 est.): $25.47 billion; per capita $1,900. Real growth rate: 2.6%. Inflation: 0.8%. Unemployment: 48%; note - urban youth 45% (2007 est.). Arable land: 12.51%. Agriculture: peanuts, millet, corn, sorghum, rice, cotton, tomatoes, green vegetables; cattle, poultry, pigs; fish. Labor force: 5.687 million (2011 est.); agriculture 77%, industry and services 23% (1990 est.). Industries: agricultural and fish processing, phosphate mining, fertilizer production, petroleum refining, construction materials, ship construction and repair. Natural resources: fish, phosphates, iron ore. Exports: $2.413 billion (2011 est.): fish, groundnuts (peanuts), petroleum products, phosphates, cotton. Imports: $5.391 billion (2011 est.): foods and beverages, capital goods, fuels. Major trading partners: India, Mali, France, Italy, Nigeria, UK, Netherlands, China (2011).

Communications: Telephones: main lines in use: 341,900 (2009); mobile cellular: 8.344 million (2009). Radio broadcast stations: AM 8, FM 20, shortwave 1 (2007). Radios: 1.24 million (1997). Television broadcast stations: 1 (1997). Televisions: 361,000 (1997). Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 217 (2010). Internet users: 1.818 million (2009).

Transportation: Railways: total: 906 km (2008). Highways: total: 14,008 km; paved: 4,099 km; unpaved: 9,909 km (2003). Waterways: 1,000 km total; 785 km on the Senegal river, and 112 km on the Saloum river. Ports and harbors: Dakar, Kaolack, Matam, Podor, Richard Toll, Saint-Louis, Ziguinchor. Airports: 11 (2012).

International disputes:separatist war in Casamance region results in refugees and cross-border raids, arms smuggling, other illegal activities, and political instability in Guinea-Bissau.

Major sources and definitions

Flag of Senegal

Geography

The capital of Senegal, Dakar, is the westernmost point in Africa. The country, slightly smaller than South Dakota, 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.

Government

Multiparty democractic republic.

History

The Toucouleur people, among the early inhabitants of Senegal, 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.

Although Senegal is neither a large nor a strategically located country, it has nonetheless played a prominent role in African politics since its independence. As a black nation that is more than 90% Muslim, Senegal has been a diplomatic and cultural bridge between the Islamic and black African worlds. Senegal has also maintained closer economic, political, and cultural ties to France than probably any other former French African colony.

Senegal's first president, Léopold Sédar Senghor, towered over the country's political life until his voluntary retirement in 1981. He replaced multiparty democracy with an authoritarian regime. An acclaimed poet, Senghor sought to become a “black-skinned Frenchman,” a quest he ultimately discovered to be impossible. An advocate of “African socialism,” Senghor increased government involvement in the economy through a series of four-year plans.

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. Politically, the so-called passive revolution allowed limited opposition.

A Smooth Transition of Power

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, including the sale of government companies and permitting the existence of political parties. 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.

In Sept. 2002, 1,863 passengers were killed when the state-owned Joola ferry sank. The government accepted responsibility for the disaster.

The president removed Prime Minister Idrissa Seck in April 2004. Seck was considered Wade's rival. Wade was elected to a second term in February, taking about 56% of the vote—enough to avoid a runoff election. Seck placed second, with about 15%. Wade did not breeze to victory, however, as his opponents accused him of corruption and the electorate has grown impatient with the slow growth in the number of jobs.

Wade Denied a Third Term

Despite constitutional term limits, President Wade ran for a third term in 2012. His decision sparked violent protests that threatened to destabilize the country. Wade lost decisively in the second round in March to former prime minister Macky Sall.

Macky Sall's move from prime minister to president became official on April 2, 2012. The following day he named Abdoul Mbaye as prime minister, and completed his cabinet on the 3rd with Alioune Badara Cissé as foreign minister, Augustin Tine as defense minister, Mbaye Ndiaye as interior minister, and Amadou Kane as finance minister.

On September 1, 2013, President Sall fired Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye along with his cabinet. A spokesman for the president did not say why Mbaye and his cabinet were dismissed. Sall announced Aminata Touré as the new prime minister. Touré became the second female prime minister of Senegal. Mame Madior Boye was the first. Touré previously served as justice minister where she pursued corruption cases within the government.

Feminist, Activist Touré Becomes Prime Minister

On Sept. 1, 2013 President Macky Sall dismissed Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye and his government. Former justice minister Aminata Touré was named new prime minister. Known for her tough stance on corruption, feminist and human rights advocate Touré named her own cabinet within 24 hours of her appointment; the new offical lineup included Sidiki Kaba, the former head of the International Federation of Human Rights, as justice minister.

See also Encyclopedia: Senegal.
U.S. State Dept. Country Notes: Senegal


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