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Senegal
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Brief History

The Republic of Senegal was named the Mali Federation after the union of the French colonies of Senegal and the French Sudan. However, the union broke up a few months later and the Independence Day became on August 20, 1960 – the day of the dissolution. In 1982, the nominal confederation of Senegambia emerged with the union of Senegal and Gambia, but was dissolved in 1989. Since the 1980s, a low-level rebellion was led by The Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance (MFDC), but peace deals could not resolve the conflicts. Today, Senegal is one of the most stable democracies in Africa, ruled my President Abdoulaye Wade who was elected in 2000, then re-elected in 2007. In order to boost the executive power in the country and to weaken the resistance, he has adjusted the constitution several times until this day.

Geography

Senegal, capital Dakar – the largest city, is a country south of the Senegal River – to which the country owes its name –in western Africa. 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. The climate of Senegal can be defined as tropical, hot, and humid. Its rainy season starts in May and extends to November and has strong southeast winds, whereas its dry season starts in December and ends in April, and it is dominated by hot, dry, harmattan wind. Senegal has four major rivers: the Senegal, Saloum, Gambie, and Casamance that flow from east to west. It has some natural resources such as fish, phosphates, and iron ore.

People

Senegal has a population of 14,086,103 (2010). It has a wide variety of ethnic groups: Its largest group is the Wolof, forming 43.3% of the population. Other groups are Pular 23.8%, Serer 14.7%, Jola 3.7%, Mandinka 3%, Soninke 1.1%, European and Lebanese 1%, other 9.4%. The official language is French, and there are other Senegalese languages such as Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, Mandinka, etc...The literacy rate is 39.3% and the unemployment rate is 48% (2007). Senegal witnesses a religion distribution of 94% Muslims, 5% Christians (mostly Roman Catholic), and 1% followers of indigenous beliefs.

Government

The government of Senegal is subject to a republic system. Its legal system is based on French civil law system and judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Court. The Council of State audits the government's accounting office. It accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction with reservations. The current chief of state is President Abdoulaye Wade (since 1 April 2000), and the head of state is Prime Minister Soulayemane Ndene Ndiaye (since 1 May 2009). Its official currency is the Central African CFA franc, where 655.957 francs are equivalent to 1 euro.

Economy

Senegal was rated 156th on the Human Development Index in 2003. Its GDP per capita amounted to US$1600 in 2009.

Senegal's economy is based on its agricultural sector - although the industrial sector is growing (in 2009, industrial production growth was 1.5%) - primarily peanut production, a modest industrial sector, and a growing services sector. Agriculture, which employs up to 70% of the population and accounts for two-thirds of export revenues, is highly vulnerable to declining rainfall, desertification, and changes in world commodity prices. When the first of a series of droughts struck in the latter part of the 1960s, the economy deteriorated rapidly.

The main industries include food processing, mining, cement, artificial fertilizer, chemicals, textiles, refining imported petroleum, and tourism. Its exports include fish, chemicals, cotton, fabrics, groundnuts, and calcium phosphate.

Senegal has a flourishing fishing industry, and Dakar is one of the most important Atlantic tuna ports. In 2000, fish exports amounted to $260.3 million.

The Senegal oil industry is one of the key elements in the economy of the country. Its mining industry is a small but important contributor to the country's GDP and is an important source of export earnings. In 1994, economic reform programs were put and started with a 50% devaluation of the CFA franc. After Senegal’s economy retracted by 2.1% in 1993, the real growth in GDP averaged 5% annually between years 1995-2001. In 2009, the real growth was 1.7%. The inflation rate was estimated to be -1% in 2009, and the investment was 33% of the GDP in 2009. Thanks to the reform program, Senegal's economy is starting to be one of the fastest growing in the world.

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 (48% in 2007), socioeconomic disparity, and juvenile delinquency.

The Gross National Income (GNI) per capita was estimated to be US$968.41 in 2010.


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