Senegal is a country in West Africa, south of the Senegal River,
from which the country takes its name.
It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south. Inside the territory is the state of the Gambia, stretching from the Atlantic Ocean deep into Senegal for about 300 km.
The toponym "Senegal" comes from the hydronym - the Senegal River, which flows along the northern border of the country. The hydronym, apparently, goes back to the name of the kingdom "Sangana", which was mentioned by the Arab writer and geographer of the XI century Al-Bakri. Later Arabic authors in the 16th century mention the hydronym in the form "Singilu", and European navigators in the form "Senega". The toponym may be based on the Berber ethnonym “Sangaya”, which was used to designate the Berber tribal union Sanhaji (Arab. صنهاجة Ṣanhaja; Berber. ⵉⵥⵏⴰⴳⴻⵏ Iẓnagen), which is mentioned by Arabic sources from the 9th century.
There is also an alternative point of view, for example, the name Senegal is a distorted Arabic version of the combination of the name Horn - the supreme deity in the Serer religion (Serer Rog Sene) and o gal, meaning a body of water in the Serer language. There is also a version of a Wolof borrowing that it comes from the Wolof Sunuu Gaal, which means "our canoe" and refers to the Senegal River Delta, which has always had many fishing boats.
Regardless of the version of the origin of the name, during the Portuguese and then the French colonization, the form of the hydronym and, then, respectively, the toponym Senegal was established.
Senegal is a flat country in the zone of savannas and woodlands of the subequatorial belt. In the southeast, there are individual heights up to 500 m.
The climate is subequatorial, arid in the north, more humid in the south. Average temperatures: around 23°C in January and 28°C in July.
Two large rivers with a constant flow flow through the territory of Senegal - Senegal in the north and Casamance in the south. Most of the other rivers dry up almost completely during the dry season.
The fauna of Senegal is represented mainly in the south and southeast, where there are savannahs and forests. There are lions, hippos, zebras, western chimpanzees, flamingos, crocodiles and others.
Antelopes are found in the savannas, and jackals, hyenas, leopards and cheetahs still live in remote places. Many small rodents, birds, reptiles, insects (including tsetse flies). Coastal waters are rich in fish, including sharks.
The population is 18.1 million (January 2022 estimate).
Annual increase - 0.7% (fertility rate - 1.8 births per woman).
The average life expectancy is 59 years.
Ethnic composition: 20 ethnic groups, the most numerous of which are the Wolof (43%), Fulbe (24%) and Serer (15%).
The official language is French, which is spoken to varying degrees by about 90% of the population; the status of national languages is Arabic (Hassania), Balanta-Ganja and others. In total, 36 languages are spoken in the country. Education for the deaf uses American Sign Language, introduced by deaf American missionary Andrew Foster.
Literacy - 51% of men, 29% of women (2002 estimate).
Religions - Muslims make up 94% of the population, Christians - 5%, local beliefs - 1%. Most Christians are Catholics, but there are also Baptists, Adventists, and Pentecostals.
Urban population - 82% (2008 estimate). Infection with the immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - 1% (2007 estimate).
The period of empires in the development of Senegal is remarkable in that it was then, around the year 500, that two ethnic groups first appeared and formed on its territory: the Wolof and the Serer. In the 9th century, another ethnic group settled in the valley of the Senegal River - the tukuler, and from the 11th to the 14th centuries, the powerful state of the tukuler people - Tekrur began to dominate in eastern Senegal. By the 15th century, states of other peoples had also formed - the state of Wolof and the state of Serer.
In the 14th century, there were several "kingdoms" in the region, the most powerful of which was the Jolof Empire. For a long time, the largest center of the slave trade was located on the Senegalese island of Karaban.
In the XV century, Europeans began to appear on the coast of Senegal. The first of these were the Portuguese sailors of the Dinis Dias expedition, who rounded the islands of Cape Verde and reached Cape Verde. In 1633, other immigrants from Europe appeared on the territory of Senegal - English and French merchants. In the 17th - 1st half of the 18th centuries, in the African-European trade, which was held in their hands by the rulers of African states, the export of slaves was becoming increasingly important. Using firearms, African rulers at the head of their squads raided their neighbors in order to capture prisoners for their subsequent sale to Europeans.
From the middle of the 17th to the end of the 19th century. French colonization of West Africa took place. First, the French founded the Senegal Company there, and in 1638, at the mouth of the Senegal River, they officially founded the trading port of Saint-Louis (since 1659 - the city of Saint-Louis) - a trading post and a transit point for the French fleet. The settlement that used to be here for such purposes was also used earlier - from the end of the 15th century, but it grew sharply only in 1697-1723. From 1693 to 1814, France and Britain disputed control of the coast of Senegal. In 1758, during the Seven Years' War, Great Britain captured Senegal, but as a result of the Paris Peace Treaty of 1763, the British returned the island of Gorée to the French, and the Paris Peace of 1783 returned the entire colony to the latter. In 1789, the French garrison was the African battalion of two companies with a strength of 250 people. But after 10 years, only 30 people remained in the battalion, since the rest died from diseases and from clashes with local residents. In May 1799 a company of Coloreds arrived, consisting of 125 men and formed in France in May 1798 from blacks and coloreds from the West Indies. On January 4, the British launched a night attack on the city, which was repulsed by the garrison.
In August 1802, 200 men arrived from the 46th semi-brigade of the line. The Colored Company was renamed the Auxiliary Company, consisting of 43 people, and soon they were merged into the Senegalese Battalion, which in January 1809 already had 165 people. In August 1803, a civilian unit was created similar to the National Guard in France and called the Volunteers of Senegal. However, on July 13, 1809, the garrison of Saint-Louis capitulated to superior British forces and in 1814 the French Empire left both Saint-Louis and the island of Giers under the Paris Agreements, but in 1817 reoccupied these lands.
In the second half of the 19th century, the French began to develop the hinterland of Senegal. In 1848, slavery was abolished in Senegal. The French under Léon Louis Fadherb expanded their colonial holdings in Senegal and took control of the hinterland. In 1860, the leader of the largest tribe of Senegal, the Tukuler, Hadj Omar, recognized the protectorate of France, and by 1890, all the tribes of Senegal had submitted to the French.
The French exported peanuts from Senegal, gold was mined in small quantities. In 1885 the Saint-Louis-Dakar railway was built. In 1895, Senegal became part of French West Africa, and in 1902 Dakar became the administrative center of this colony, and some residents of Dakar began to receive French citizenship, namely the inhabitants of four districts in the west of Senegal. From them, one deputy to the French parliament began to be elected (the first black deputy was elected in 1914 - Blaise Diagne, later he became deputy minister of the colonies of France, remaining a member of the French parliament until his death in 1934). Educational institutions were created to train blacks for the colonial administration of all of French West Africa. Parts of the French army began to form from the African population - battalions of Senegalese riflemen.
In 1909-1923, a railway was built from Dakar to neighboring French Sudan (now Mali). And in the 1959-1960s, Senegal was administratively united with Mali.
In 1946, all the inhabitants of Senegal received French citizenship, and the region itself became an overseas territory of France.
period of independence
At the end of World War II, the national liberation movement intensified in the country. On November 25, 1958, Senegal was proclaimed a self-governing republic within the French Community. In 1959, Senegal and French Sudan (Mali) united, forming the Federation of Mali, which gained independence: on April 4, 1960, an agreement was signed on granting it independence, which was officially proclaimed on June 20, 1960. Due to political conflicts, the Federation collapsed, after which, on August 20, 1960, Senegal and French Sudan (later renamed Mali) declared their independence.
After gaining independence, Senegal began to be ruled by the Progressive Union of Senegal (since 1976 renamed the Socialist Party of Senegal). The construction of "African socialism" in Senegal was announced.
In 1976, an amendment to the constitution was adopted, allowing the activity of three political parties in Senegal - the Social Democratic, the Liberal Democratic and the Marxist-Leninist. A number of left-wing parties also existed illegally - the Party of Independence and Labor, the Revolutionary Movement for New Democracy, and the Union of Revolutionary Workers. In the early 1980s, many underground political parties began to operate legally.
The armed suppression of the coup in neighboring Gambia through the intervention of the army of Senegal in late July-August 1981 was condemned by absolutely all opposition parties.
In 1982, together with the Gambia, a nominal Senegambia confederation was formed, but real integration did not work, and in 1989 it collapsed.
The movement of democratic forces of Casamance, which declared itself in 1982, despite negotiations with the government, continues to provide armed resistance. Senegal also has a long history of participating in peacekeeping missions.
Senegal is a presidential republic. The head of state is the president, who is elected by popular vote for a term of 5 years. He appoints the prime minister, who, with the consent of the president, chooses the cabinet. Since January 1997, a law was adopted to limit the branches of government, while regional assemblies received greater powers. The first president of independent Senegal was Léopold Sédar Senghor (served from 1960-1980), representing the PSS (later, the Socialist Party of Senegal). In 1981 he was replaced by Abdou Diouf, who also represented the Socialist Party. Since 2000, the President of Senegal has been Abdoulaye Wade of the Senegalese Democratic Party. In the presidential elections held in March 2012, Maki Sall was elected as the country's new president.
The National Assembly is a legislative (representative) body of power, consisting of 120 deputies elected by the people. Deputies are elected by a mixed electoral system for a term of 5 years. Under the system of relative majority, 90 deputies are elected in 35 single- and multi-member constituencies corresponding to the departments of Senegal, and an additional 15 deputies representing voters living abroad. The remaining 60 seats are distributed nationally through proportional representation. Since 1976, the country has had a multi-party system. The total number of political parties is not limited. There are currently about 20 of them.
The judiciary consists of two High Courts.
The main political parties in Senegal are:
Senegalese Democratic Party - liberal;
Socialist Party of Senegal - Social Democratic;
Alliance of Progressive Forces - Social Democratic;
Union for Democratic Renewal - Social Democratic;
African Party of Democracy and Socialism - left socialist;
Party of Independence and Labor - post-communist;
Democratic League / Workers' Party Movement - Communist.