Facts about Senegal

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SenegalThe 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, but 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. Senegal was ruled by a Socialist Party for 40 years until current President Abdoulaye WADE was elected in 2000. He was reelected in February 2007, but complaints of fraud led opposition parties to boycott June 2007 legislative polls. Senegal has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping.

Geography of Senegal

Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania
14 00 N, 14 00 W
total: 196,190 sq km
land: 192,000 sq km
water: 4,190 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than South Dakota
Land boundaries:
total: 2,640 km
border countries: The Gambia 740 km, Guinea 330 km, Guinea-Bissau 338 km, Mali 419 km, Mauritania 813 km
531 km
Maritime claims:
contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM
tropical; hot, humid; rainy season (May to November) has strong southeast winds; dry season (December to April) dominated by hot, dry, harmattan wind
generally low, rolling, plains rising to foothills in southeast
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
highest point: unnamed feature near Nepen Diakha 581 m
Natural resources:
fish, phosphates, iron ore
Natural hazards:
lowlands seasonally flooded; periodic droughts
Environment current issues:
wildlife populations threatened by poaching; deforestation; overgrazing; soil erosion; desertification; overfishing
Geography - note:
westernmost country on the African continent; The Gambia is almost an enclave of Senegal

Population of Senegal

12,853,259 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 40.8% (male 2,467,021/female 2,422,385)
15-64 years: 56.1% (male 3,346,756/female 3,378,518)
65 years and over: 3.1% (male 174,399/female 198,042)
Median age:
19.1 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
52.94 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 59.25 years
male: 57.7 years
female: 60.85 years
Fertility rate:
4.38 children born/woman
noun: Senegalese (singular and plural)
adjective: Senegalese
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%, indigenous beliefs 1%, Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic)
French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, Mandinka
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 40.2%
male: 50%
female: 30.7%


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Senegal
local long form: Republique du Senegal
Government type:
republic under multiparty democratic rule
Administrative divisions:
11 regions (regions, singular - region); Dakar, Diourbel, Fatick, Kaolack, Kolda, Louga, Matam, Saint-Louis, Tambacounda, Thies, Ziguinchor
4 April 1960 (from France); complete independence was achieved upon dissolution of federation with Mali on 20 August 1960
National holiday:
Independence Day, 4 April (1960)
a new constitution was adopted 7 January 2001
Legal system:
based on French civil law system; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Court; the Council of State audits the government's accounting office; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Abdoulaye WADE (since 1 April 2000)
head of government: Prime Minister Cheikh Hadjibou SOUMARE (since 19 June 2007)
cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the prime minister in consultation with the president
elections: president elected by popular vote for a five-year term (eligible for a second term) under new constitution; election last held on 25 February 2007; prime minister appointed by the president.
Legislative branch:
unicameral National Assembly or Assemblee Nationale (120 seats; members are elected by direct, popular vote to serve five-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Constitutional Court; Council of State; Court of Final Appeals or Cour de Cassation; Court of Appeals


In January 1994, Senegal undertook a bold and ambitious economic reform program with the support of the international donor community. This reform began with a 50% devaluation of Senegal's currency, the CFA franc, which was linked at a fixed rate to the French franc. Government price controls and subsidies have been steadily dismantled. After seeing its economy contract by 2.1% in 1993, Senegal made an important turnaround, thanks to the reform program, with real growth in GDP averaging over 5% annually during 1995-2007. Annual inflation had been pushed down to the low single digits. As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Senegal is working toward greater regional integration with a unified external tariff and a more stable monetary policy. High unemployment, however, continues to prompt illegal migrants to flee Senegal in search of better job opportunities in Europe. Senegal was also beset by an energy crisis that caused widespread blackouts in 2006 and 2007. The phosphate industry has struggled for two years to secure capital, and reduced output has directly impacted GDP. In 2007, Senegal signed agreements for major new mining concessions for iron, zircon, and gold with foreign companies. Firms from Dubai have agreed to manage and modernize Dakar's maritime port, and create a new special economic zone. Senegal still relies heavily upon outside donor assistance. Under the IMF's Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief program, Senegal has benefited from eradication of two-thirds of its bilateral, multilateral, and private-sector debt. In 2007, Senegal and the IMF agreed to a new, non-disbursing, Policy Support Initiative program..

$21.02 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 17.2%
industry: 20.9%
services: 61.9%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
4.82 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 77%
industry and services: 23%
48% (urban youth 40%) 
revenues: $1.657 billion
expenditures: $1.926 billion 
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 100%
agricultural and fish processing, phosphate mining, fertilizer production, petroleum refining, construction materials
peanuts, millet, corn, sorghum, rice, cotton, tomatoes, green vegetables; cattle, poultry, pigs; fish
fish, groundnuts (peanuts), petroleum products, phosphates, cotton
Export partners:
France 22.7%, India 13.2%, Mali 11.9%, Guinea-Bissau 5.1%, Gambia, The 4.4%, Italy 4.2% 
foods and beverages, capital goods, fuels
Import partners:
France 28.1%, Nigeria 11.2%, US 4.6%, Thailand 4.3% 
Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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