Facts

 

Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal also borders The Gambia, a country occupying a narrow sliver of land along the banks of the Gambia River, which separates Senegal’s southern region of Casamance from the rest of the country. Senegal also shares a maritime border with Cape Verde. Senegal’s economic and political capital is Dakar. It is the westernmost country in the mainland of the Old World, or Afro-Eurasia, and owes its name to the Senegal River, which borders it to the east and north. The name “Senegal” comes from the Wolof “Sunuu Gaal”, which means “Our Boat”. Senegal covers a land area of almost 197,000 square kilometres (76,000 sq mi) and has an estimated population of about 15 million. The climate is Sahelian, but there is a rainy season.


Population: 15,411,614(2016)
Area
196,712 km2

Capital CityDakar

 

Currency

 

Geography

Senegal is located on the west of the African continent. It lies between latitudes 12° and 17°N, and longitudes 11° and 18°W.

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; internally it almost completely surrounds The Gambia, namely on the north, east and south, except for Gambia’s short Atlantic coastline.

The Senegalese landscape consists mainly of the rolling sandy plains of the western Sahel which rise to foothills in the southeast. Here is also found Senegal’s highest point, an otherwise unnamed feature 2.7 km southeast of Nepen Diakha at 648 m (2,126 ft). The northern border is formed by the Senegal River; other rivers include the Gambia and Casamance Rivers. The capital Dakar lies on the Cap-Vert peninsula, the westernmost point of continental Africa.

The Cape Verde islands lie some 560 kilometres (350 mi) off the Senegalese coast, but Cap-Vert (“Cape Green”) is a maritime placemark, set at the foot of “Les Mammelles”, a 105-metre (344 ft) cliff resting at one end of the Cap-Vert peninsula onto which is settled Senegal’s capital Dakar, and 1 kilometre (0.6 mi) south of the “Pointe des Almadies”, the westernmost point in Africa.

 

Climate

 

Senegal has a tropical climate with pleasant heat throughout the year with well-defined dry and humid seasons that result from northeast winter winds and southwest summer winds. The dry season (December to April) is dominated by hot, dry, harmattan wind. Dakar’s annual rainfall of about 600 mm (24 in) occurs between June and October when maximum temperatures average 30 °C (86.0 °F) and minimums 24.2 °C (75.6 °F); December to February maximum temperatures average 25.7 °C (78.3 °F) and minimums 18 °C (64.4 °F).

Interior temperatures are higher than along the coast (for example, average daily temperatures in Kaolack and Tambacounda for May are 30 °C (86.0 °F) and 32.7 °C (90.9 °F) respectively, compared to Dakar’s 23.2 °C (73.8 °F) ), and rainfall increases substantially farther south, exceeding 1,500 mm (59.1 in) annually in some areas.

In Tambacounda in the far interior, particularly on the border of Mali where the desert begins, temperatures can reach as high as 54 °C (129.2 °F). The northernmost part of the country has a near hot desert climate, the central part has a hot semi-arid climate and the southernmost part has a tropical wet and dry climate. Senegal is mainly a sunny and dry country.

 

Economy

 

After its economy contracted by 2.1% in 1993, Senegal instituted a major economic reform program with the support of international donors. This reform began with a 50 percent devaluation of the country’s currency (the CFA franc). Government price controls and subsidies were also dismantled. As a result, Senegal’s inflation went down, investment went up, and the gross domestic product rose approximately 5% a year between 1995 and 2001.

The main industries include food processing, mining, cement, artificial fertilizer, chemicals, textiles, refining imported petroleum, and tourism. Exports include fish, chemicals, cotton, fabrics, groundnuts, and calcium phosphate. The principal foreign market in India with 26.7% of exports (as of 1998). Other foreign markets include the United States, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Senegal has a 12-nautical-mile (22 km; 14 mi) exclusive fishing zone that has been regularly breached in recent years (as of 2014). It has been estimated that the country’s fishermen lose 300,000 tonnes of fish each year to illegal fishing. The Senegalese government have tried to control the illegal fishing which is conducted by fishing trawlers, some of which are registered in Russia, Mauritania, Belize and Ukraine. In January 2014, a Russian trawler, Oleg Naydenov, was seized by Senegalese authorities close to the maritime border with Guinea-Bissau.

 

As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Senegal is working toward greater regional integration with a unified external tariff. Senegal is also a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa.

Senegal achieved full Internet connectivity in 1996, creating a mini-boom in information technology-based services. Private activity now accounts for 82 percent of its GDP. On the negative side, Senegal faces deep-seated urban problems of chronic high unemployment, socioeconomic disparity, juvenile delinquency, and drug addiction.

Senegal is a major recipient of international development assistance. Donors include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Japan, France and China. Over 3,000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Senegal since 1963.

 

Languages

 

French is the official language, spoken at least by all those who enjoyed several years in the educational system that is of French origin (Koranic schools are even more popular, but Arabic is not widely spoken outside of the context of recitation). Most people also speak their own ethnic language while, especially in Dakar, Wolof is the lingua franca. Pulaar is spoken by the Fulas and Toucouleur. The Serer language is widely spoken by both Serers and non-Serers (including President Sall, whose wife is Serer); so are the Cangin languages, whose speakers are ethnically Serers. Jola languages are widely spoken in the Casamance.

Several of the Senegalese languages have the legal status of “national languages”: Balanta-Ganja, Hassaniya Arabic, Jola-Fonyi, Mandinka, Mandjak, Mankanya, Noon (Serer-Noon), Pulaar, Serer, Soninke, and Wolof.

Portuguese Creole, locally known as Portuguese, is a prominent minority language in Ziguinchor, the regional capital of the Casamance, spoken by local Portuguese creoles and immigrants from Guinea-Bissau. The local Cape Verdean community speaks a similar Portuguese creole, Cape Verdean Creole, and standard Portuguese. Portuguese was introduced in Senegal’s secondary education in 1961 in Dakar by the country’s first president, Léopold Sédar Senghor. It is currently available in most of Senegal and in higher education. It is especially prevalent in Casamance as it relates to the local cultural identity.

French is the only official language in the country, but a backlash in the form of a rising Senegalese linguistic nationalist movement supports the integration of Wolof, the common vernacular language of the country, into the national constitution.

Senegalese regions of Dakar, Diourbel, Fatick, Kaffrine, Kaolack, Kedougou, Kolda, Louga, Matam, Saint-Louis, Sedhiou, Tambacounda, Thies and Ziguinchor are members of the International Association of Francophone regions.

 

Health

 

Life expectancy by birth is estimated to 57.5 years. Public expenditure on health was at 2.4 percent of the GDP in 2004, whereas private expenditure was at 3.5 percent. Health expenditure was at US$72 (PPP) per capita in 2004. The fertility rate ranged from 5 to 5.3 between 2005 and 2013, with 4.1 in urban areas and 6.3 in rural areas as an official survey (6.4 in 1986 and 5.7 in 1997) point out. There were six physicians per 100,000 persons in the early 2000s (decade). Infant mortality was at 77 per 1,000 live births in 2005, but in 2013 this figure had dropped to 47 within the first 12 months after birth. In the past 5 years, infant mortality rates of malaria have dropped. According to a 2013 UNICEF report, 26% of women in Senegal have undergone female genital mutilation.

 

Culture

 

Senegal is well known for the West African tradition of storytelling, which is done by griots, who have kept West African history alive for thousands of years through words and music. The griot profession is passed down generation to generation and requires years of training and apprenticeship in genealogy, history and music. Griots give voice to generations of West African society.

The African Renaissance Monument built in 2010 in Dakar is the tallest statue in Africa. Dakar also hosts a film festival, Recidak.

 

Religion

 

Senegal is a secular state. Islam is the predominant religion in the country, practiced by approximately 94% of the country’s population; the Christian community, at 5% of the population, are mostly Roman Catholics but there are still diverse Protestant denominations. One percent have animist beliefs, particularly in the southeastern region of the country. Some Serer people follow the Serer religion.

A majority of the Muslims in Senegal are Sunni with Sufi influences. Islamic communities in Senegal are generally organized around one of several Islamic Sufi orders or brotherhoods, headed by a khalif (xaliifa in Wolof, from Arabic khalīfa), who is usually a direct descendant of the group’s founder. The two largest and most prominent Sufi orders in Senegal are the Tijaniyya, whose largest sub-groups are based in the cities of Tivaouane and Kaolack, and the Murīdiyya (Murid), based in the city of Touba. 27% are nondenominational Muslims.

 

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