Wolof (wōlˈəf) [key], black African ethnic group numbering over 3 million, along the Atlantic coast of W Africa; most live in Senegal, but there is a significant minority in Gambia. Traditional Wolof society was distinguished for its rigid social classes. There were nobles and farmers among the free born; below them were lower classes of artisans and minstrels; slaves were the lowest class. Chiefs were elected by the nobles. By the 14th cent. the Wolof had established a separate state. They were converted to Islam in the 18th cent.