Senegal country profileBy | Tuesday, December 1 2009 at 16:41
Republic of Senegal
Origins of name -Senegal takes its name from the river that acts as its northern border with Mauritania. The name may have come from the Zenaga Berbers, who established an Islamic monastery on the bank of the river about 1040. Alternatively, it may have been named after the Wolof sunu gaal ‘our canoe’
President Macky Sall
Until independence on August 20, 1960, Senegal was part of the Mali Federation of French West Africa.
In 1962, a new constitution was adopted from the previous parliamentary system to a presidential one
Form of Government
Executive President elected on five-year term which is renewable once
President, Prime Minister appointed by President, Unicameral Parliament
Manpower fit for military service: Males age 16-49: 2,038,508 and Females age 16-49: 2,207,510
Expenditures: 1.4% of GDP
Military branches – Army, Navy, Airforce
1960 – 1981 Leopold Senghor
1981 – 2000 Abdou Diouf
2000 - 2012 Abdoulaye Wade
Altitude: 40 metres
Population: 2.2 million
Size: 12,855,153 (2011)
Life expectancy: 62.3 years
Gender make-up – Male: 49.99% and Female: 50.01%
GDP per capita
Area – 196,722sqkm
Border countries: The Gambia 740km, Guinea 330km, Guinea-Bissau 338 km, Mali 419km, Mauritania 813km
Wolof, French (official)
Muslim 94% (Sunni), Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic), Indigenous beliefs 1%
Wolof 43.3%, Pular 23.8%, Serer 14.7%, Jola 3.7%, Mandinka 3%, Soninke 1.1%, European and Lebanese 1%, other 9.4%
Fish, Phosphates, Iron ore
Fish, Groundnuts, Phosphates, Cotton
Main port: Dakar
Main airport: Leopold Senghor International Airport located 10km from city centre
Overfishing off the Senegal Atlantic coast
Wildlife populations threatened by poaching
Senegal remains a vibrant democracy. Despite the Socialist party having monopolised power for decades after independence (until President Wade came to office), Senegal was one of the very few African countries that did not officially abolish multi-party practice
Current political crises are rooted in the increasing centralisation of power in the hands of the presidency
Several hundred Senegalese opposition supporters demonstrated against 85-year-old President Abdoulaye Wade's bid for a third term in the 2012 elections.
Since the 1990s, the State has gradually withdrawn from most economic activities
However, monopolies persist in crucial sectors, though they are subject to tender procedures
Despite occasional conflicts with the office of Prime Minister, President Wade’s political leadership is capable of seeking pragmatic coalitions to pursue his political goals.
Mr. Wade got a step closer to his dream of encouraging science and mathematics on the continent with the opening of the African Institute of Mathematical Science-Senegal, located about 80 kilometres from Senegalese capital Dakar
President Wade has been a very active diplomatic layer in West Africa and is credited as a stabilising force among Senegal’s troubled neighbours like Gambia and Guinea-Bissau
The Major Conflicts
When: 1960 - 1962
Who: President Senghor vs Prime Minister Mamadou Dia
Why: Power struggle between a scholarly President and a charismatic Prime Minister
Outcome: Senghor prevailed by pushing a new constitution that consolidated power under the presidency
When: In the 90s
Who: Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance
Why: Fought for autonomy for the Casamance region in the south, occupied by the Jola group
Outcome: On December 30, 2004 President Wade announced that he would sign a peace treaty with the separatist group. This, however, has yet to be implemented.
What to see?
Goree Island, from where African slaves were shipped to America. Virtually every US president who has visited Africa has come to see the slave fort.
Most popular sports
Famous sportsmen and sportswomen
Al Hadji Diouf: Star player in Senegal’s 2002 World Cup soccer team, has played for several clubs in the English Premier League
Jules Bocande: Prolific soccer striker. He was French Ligue 1’s top goalscorer in 1985-85 with Metz FC
Dakar lies at the western-most tip of the African continent.
It is the only African country which was once headed by a poet and a member of France’s hallowed Academie Francaise, i.e. Leopold Sedar Senghor
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