The Republic of Senegal (French République du Sénégal) is a country in West Africa. It stretches from the foothills of the Sahara in the north, where the country borders Mauritania, to the beginning of the tropical wet forest in the south, neighbors Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, and from the cool Atlantic coast in the west to the hot Sahel region the border with Mali in the east. The southern parts of French-speaking Senegal, the Casamance, are separated by the small English-speaking state of Gambia, which extends deep into the east.

The capital is the megacity Dakar, other important cities are Pikine, Touba, Guédiawaye and Thiès. Under the government of President Macky Sall, plans to expand the young town of Diamniadio, conveniently located at the entrance to the Cap Vert Peninsula, into a second seat of government next to Dakar have been producing initial results since 2014.

The area of Senegal has been part of the Islamic world since the 11th century. Today more than 95 percent of the country's residents profess Islam. After being ruled by several African empires, the region became a French colony in Africa in 1895. On August 20, 1960, the Republic of Senegal became independent and has maintained a multi-party system ever since, becoming one of the few democratic states on the African continent.

However, from the 1980s onwards, dependence on a few export goods such as peanuts, phosphates and fish, rapid population growth and national debt led to impoverishment and growing social tensions in the previously prosperous Senegal, which was also compounded by Casamance's attempts to secede from 1982 onwards. As a result, Senegal became dependent on loans from industrial and oil countries as well as development aid. The economic recovery is gradual.



Since 2008, Senegal has been divided into 14 regions, which in turn are divided into a total of 45 departments.



The emergence of cities is a relatively new phenomenon. Unlike neighboring countries, no trading cities were founded in Senegal because the country was off the trade routes through the Sahara. In 1920 there were only four places with a population of over 5,000 inhabitants. During the colonial period, towns were founded primarily along the railway line that opened up the Peanut Basin.

The cities began to grow rapidly from 1955 onwards. In contrast to many countries in the Global South, urbanization is not just limited to the capital. The growth is fueled on the one hand by labor and training migration to Dakar, but also to the secondary centers in which medium-sized towns have now become large cities. Rapid urbanization is also taking place in small towns along supply routes, which is driven forward by numerous refugees from the countryside, especially during droughts. Another characteristic of urbanization in Senegal are the rapidly growing holy cities, where numerous believers settle in order to be closer to the shrine. The population of Touba grew from 3,000 inhabitants in 1961 to more than 500,000 people.

In cities whose growth is mainly fueled by rural refugees, neighborhoods are formed that are populated by people from the same region or the same ethnic origin. Networks of solidarity are formed there; At the same time, however, the main interest of the new city dwellers remains in their old homeland. In times of crisis or during school holidays, the family is sent back to their home village because survival is easier there in the extended family. At the same time, transfer payments and new ideas from the city lead to rapid modernization processes in the countryside. In 2021, 49 percent of Senegal's residents lived in cities. Many cities in Senegal are growing rapidly. The largest cities are (as of the 2013 census):
Dakar (including Pikine and Guédiawaye): 2,647,000 inhabitants
Touba: 753,000 inhabitants
Thiès: 318,000 inhabitants
Kaolack: 234,000 inhabitants
M'bour: 233,000 inhabitants
Rufisque: 221,000 inhabitants
Saint-Louis: 210,000 inhabitants
Ziguinchor: 205,000 inhabitants


More sights

World Heritage Sites

Gorée (île de Gorée) . Island off the coast of Dakar that was the largest slave market on the west coast of Africa from the 15th to the 19th centuries. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978. A visit is recommended, even if this world heritage site is not maintained as well as one would like. The island itself is worth seeing, it offers, among other things: picturesque streets reminiscent of Mediterranean towns. From the island top, which was last fortified during the Second World War and on which several artists have now settled, you have a wonderful panoramic view. A visit to the slave house (Maison des esclaves) with a guided tour should definitely be part of it, even if the facilities and care cannot be compared with, for example, a slave house. B. the Slave Museum in Cape Town (South Africa). We had a very good and committed official guide in French, but there are also German-speaking guides. Also noteworthy is a monument to the pharmacists (and doctors) who gave their lives fighting epidemics.
Saint Louis. The former capital of Senegal (1872–1952) is located on an island in the Senegal River and was added to the World Heritage List in 2000. The well-preserved colonial architecture with the old town and the harbor facilities is impressive.
Stone Circles of Senegambia. A total of around 1000 prehistoric monuments stretch along the Gambia River over a width of 100km and a length of around 350km. The stone circles form a total of four groups with 93 stone circles: Sine Ngayène, Wana, Wassu and Kerbatch. Its creation is dated between the third century before and the 16th century after Christ. Overall, the monuments, which also contain burial mounds, represent a period of 1,500 years of civilization. This megalithic zone is unique in the world. It has been a world cultural heritage site since 2006.
Mussel Culture by Joal Fadiouth (Joal-Fadiouth) . Little is known about this culture, except that between 1,000 and 700 years ago these people piled up islands in shallow estuarine water composed only of shells. Unfortunately, the highest of them was removed many years ago because its material, the mussel shells, was used for road construction. The walk over long wooden bridges to the place, which is built on shells, is impressive. After a tour of the town, you can continue to the burial island or take a boat ride. There, too, the paths, the Christian and Muslim burial mounds are made of shells, and even the concrete of the protective wall.


National Parks

Senegal has several national parks, two of which have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1981.

Djoudj National Park (parc national des oiseaux du Djoudj) . Reserve north of the city of Saint Louis, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the largest bird reserves in West Africa with around 330 bird species.

Langue de Barbarie National Park (parc national de la Langue de Barbarie) . An approximately 20km² reserve located at the mouth of the Senegal River. Waterfowl and European migratory birds.
Delta du Saloum National Park (parc national du delta du Saloum). Park with swamps and mangrove forests located approximately 150km southeast of Dakar. Birds and also mammals.
Basse-Casamance National Park (parc national de la Basse-Casamance) . Wet savannahs and dense forests crossed by waterways. The animals that live here include 200 different species of birds and around 50 different species of mammals such as leopard, African forest buffalo and western red colobus.
Iles de la Madeleine (parc national des îles de la Madeleine) . Many species of birds can be observed here.
Niokolo-Koba National Park (parc national du Niokolo-Koba). UNESCO world natural heritage site located approximately 650km east of Dakar with an area of 9500km². In addition to around 80 species of mammals, you can find around 300 species of birds here. The last herd of elephants in Senegal is at home here. The Gambia (river) flows through the park.

You can fly from Dakar to the Hotel Simenti, picturesquely located on the Gambia River in the middle of the national park. By car, the direct route from Dakar via the N1 is difficult and dusty.
The official gate to the park is in Dar Salam on N 7. In addition to the entrance, you can always hire a park guide to accompany you in the park (Jan 2009 = 5000 CFA per day). Guided tours will i. d. R. offered in French, there are individual guides who also speak English, one who also spoke German to a reasonable extent. There is a good campsite right at the entrance, some of those in the park are very simple (tents are free of charge), but there are also some with air conditioning in the hut, such as: B. the one at the Hotel Simenti. For animal and plant lovers, a trip is worthwhile if you take enough time to observe animals. Almost only the morning and evening are suitable for this, but e.g. B. Being able to observe lions requires luck, and an off-road vehicle is helpful.
A detour further south to the Bedick (very good, pleasant campement "Chez Leontine"), near Bandafassi and to the Bassari as well as a visit to the waterfall of Dindefelo (two good campements there) are worthwhile. This tour is only possible with off-road vehicles from around Kédougou.



1 Les Almadies (Almadies)
2 Saly
3 Nianing


Getting here

Entry requirements

Senegal has abolished visa requirements for tourist stays for 125 countries. This includes the entire EU, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. As for Europeans, Albanians and nationals of the former Yugoslavia continue to require entry permits. These are available:

Embassy of Senegal, Klingelhöferstr. 5, 10785 Berlin. Tel.: +49 (30) 8 56 21 90. Also responsible for Austria. Senegal has appointed several honorary consuls in the Federal Republic of Germany; these do not issue visas. The local immigration police issue extensions. Open: Mon–Fri 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
The representative office in Geneva is at the Immeuble International Center Cointrin, Route de Pré-Bois 20, Bâtiment H, 4ème étage; 1215 Genève 15 Aéroport.



200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco
1 bottle of liquor
1 bottle of perfume for personal use

Value date without registration: import CFA 1,000,000 (approx. €1,500) and the equivalent value of up to CFA 500,000 (approx. €750) for export.

There are import bans on pornography and subversive items. Weapons, ammunition, protected animal species (CITES) and tomato paste (!) require ministerial permission.

The German embassy provides an information sheet on car registration. In principle, the seller is responsible for twenty percent customs duty and VAT. to pay.


By plane

Dakar International Airport is served by numerous international airlines, both scheduled and charter. Air Maroc, Air France and others fly to Dakar daily from Frankfurt/Main.


By train

The railway line from Dakar to Bamako in neighboring Mali was “operated” years ago by the Canadian company Transrail. They have completely closed the Senegalese section of the route. At the end of 2015, the state-owned Dakar Bamako Ferroviaire was founded, which has been renewing the route since the end of 2016 with Chinese help.


By bus

It is possible to take a minibus from Nouakchott in Mauritania via the Diama Dam to Dakar for around €15. A person will be drawn at departure who will travel for free. Since you cross the Diawling National Park on the way, tourists are asked to pay a fee of 200 Ouguiya (€5) shortly before leaving. The road is in poor condition on the Mauritanian side (2019). The journey takes a full day.

Gambian GTSC buses run daily from Serrekunda-Kanifing to/from Dakar. There are also shared taxis for the same route for around €10 (6000 CFA), which start around two kilometers from the Gambian border. You can get the passenger seat for an extra 1000 CFA (2019).



The easiest way to get there from Europe is via Mauritania and the ferry crossing at Rosso over the Senegal River.

The German Foreign Office issued a leaflet on vehicle imports as the rules change frequently. The import of vehicles up to 3.5 t that are more than eight years old has been banned since 2012. Such vehicles may be used in transit for 48 hours (not extendable) upon presentation of a carnet and proof of valid liability insurance. Newer vehicles without a carnet receive a passavant de circulation valid for 10 days, which can be extended. If the car is sold, twenty percent duty and VAT are due, which the seller must pay.


By boat

There is no regular ferry connection to Senegal.

The ferry between Ziguinchor and Dakar (description) bypasses Gambia.


Local transport

To get around the country you can use rental cars, bush taxis, buses, trains or domestic flights.

Rental car
All major international car rental companies have a branch in Dakar. An international driving license is required.

Public transportation
The easiest way to get around the country is to use bush taxis or local buses, which always leave from a bus station (gare routière). Compromises have to be made when it comes to comfort, but almost every place can be reached cheaply. The destinations are announced loudly, although usually only the final destination is stated. A little patience and no fear of apocalyptic conditions in the big cities are recommended. Things are a little quieter in the country. It is advisable to inquire about the usual fare beforehand, as this takes time. You should also allow plenty of time and patience for haggling over the fare! By the way, bush taxis are no longer permitted in Dakar itself, so you have to look for them outside.

If you are traveling with four or more people, renting a bush taxi for an entire trip can be worthwhile. To do this, you should take a close look at the driver and vehicle beforehand, perhaps try it out first and get involved in a long period of haggling and negotiating. The four of us drove in an old Peugeot 505 with a very reliable, nice driver, cheaper than a rented small car. On his recommendation, we ate excellent and very cheap meals several times in Senegalese restaurants along the route, especially since he asked or negotiated the prices for us. In campements (and some rural hotels) drivers are usually accommodated and fed free of charge.



The official language is French, which can be used in all official offices. French speakers are very common in cities and near the coast, but inland it becomes less common and vocabulary is often limited to everyday things. When traveling, it is advisable to at least learn greeting formulas in Wolof, the common lingua franca, beforehand. This can make things easier, as Senegalese take a lot of time for the (ritualized) greeting (although you politely don't look at each other!) and to check how you are , the last night, ask the parents and children before they slowly bring up the topic.



Senegal is a poor but not cheap travel country. Credit cards are only accepted in larger hotels. Because of the fixed exchange rate, it is advisable to bring euros with you.

Hawkers, beggars and “tourist guides” crowd in.



Like almost everywhere in Africa, you should avoid running water and raw food (including salads). Meat, vegetables and fruit should only be eaten well cooked or well-fried, and fruit should only be eaten if it has been peeled. If you observe this and basic hygiene, you can eat Senegalese cuisine safely. It is based on a “saturation base”, be it millet, rice, wheat semolina (couscous) with a tasty sauce and vegetables. There is also chicken meat or beef, mutton, goat or sheep meat, fish or seafood. Depending on the region and the cook, hot spices are used. Hot spices do not cause any harm, but they do help with digestion.

Thiéboudiène is Senegal's soul-warming national dish, a rich, flavorful and deeply spiced blend of rice, vegetables and fish.
Café Touba is a coffee that is roasted with jarr (guinea pepper) and optionally cloves. It tastes very spicy and is offered in small shops and by hawkers everywhere for very little money.
Filled baguettes, like Café Touba, can be found practically everywhere. The sliced baguettes are filled with mayonnaise, onions and various cooked dishes. Often chicken, potatoes, beans or liver.
Fataya are dumplings with a spicy meat filling.



There are three casinos in Senegal, all in Dakar.

Prostitution is legal (but practiced discreetly) and regulated in Senegal. Workers in this sector must be over 21, undergo monthly examinations and have a sanitary carnet. Only about a quarter of the prostitutes are actually registered; in particular, the men who specialize in the numerous European female sex tourists are not recorded; Among the unregistered, the rate of HIV infection is only 7%.



In the capital, Dakar, you can find all the French hotel chains with their modern, air-conditioned ambience and prices like those in Europe. There are also hotels that meet this standard in other larger cities. These are suitable for travelers without knowledge of French as they also have English-speaking (sometimes Portuguese and Spanish-speaking) staff. I found the colonial-style Hotel Océanic, very close to the "Kermel" market, charming, although in need of some renovation. The price-performance ratio is very good and the hotel is so centrally located that you can visit Dakar on foot. The French and some Spanish speaking staff were very friendly and helpful. There are now several hostels in Dakar for 6 to 10€ in a dorm.

In rural Senegal, especially in Casamence and in the southeast (in and around the Niokolo Koba National Park), there are campements run by locals, fenced areas, mostly with beautiful trees in which there are small (local) huts. In the large main room they usually have a large double bed with a mosquito net, sometimes also a closet or chest of drawers. One or two additional beds are welcome. Behind it there is a simple sanitary area with a toilet (occasionally with a squat toilet) and often a sink and always a shower facility, which consists of a shower with running (or just trickling) water or a bucket of water with a scoop (which I almost prefer). You should look at the huts beforehand to be sure that you will like the cleanliness, facilities, etc. B. with mosquito net. Improvements can also be made.

I just want to mention a very excellent campsite in Nianing, about 100km south of Dakar directly on the Atlantic coast, the BenTenier. It is excellently run by a French woman who is married to a Senegalese man. It is exemplary clean, laid out like a small nature park with its own swimming pool (you can also go swimming in the Atlantic through a back exit, although a walk outside the town is recommended) and an excellent restaurant with French and regional cuisine. The owners are also financially committed to building preschools in the area. You can get very good information there if you know French, but you can also get by with English. This campsite is, among other things, very suitable for initially adapting to the slower pace of life and the climate. A stay over the New Year is very popular because you can experience a Senegalese celebration with musical and dancing griots in a wonderful atmosphere and delicious cuisine.



Armed robberies are not uncommon.

Both the German and Austrian foreign ministries advise against traveling to the border area of Mali and Mauritania: “Non-essential travel to the immediate border areas with Mali and the southern part of Mauritania in the Matam department is not recommended.” The region on the Senegal River between Podor and the border with Guinea should be avoided. (As of: Sep 2022)

Senegal is considered one of the most politically stable African countries with a good integration of numerous peoples and a functioning democracy. Nevertheless, here too the gap between rich and poor is wide. Petty crime is particularly common in larger cities.

In the south of the country on the border with Gambia and Guinea-Bissau in the province of Casamance (south-western province) there are partial clashes between government troops and the rebel organization MFDC. Away from the thoroughfares, there is also a danger of mines. The situation here has improved since 2015.

Travel on national roads №5 Ziguinchor-Banjul and the №4 “Transgambienne”, which connects Ziguinchor with Dakar via the bridge in Farafenni, Gambia, should be approached with particular caution, as armed robberies have occurred in the past.

Driving at night is generally not recommended.



Travel health insurance should be taken out beforehand. Medical care is not of European standard (with the exception of Dakar). The hygienic conditions, especially the drinking water supply, are also not at European standards. Dust pollution can be severe during the dry season (November-May) in the Sahel region.


Medical care

In Dakar you can find the appropriate specialists for all disciplines. The Hospital Prinzal de Dakar in Dakar is considered one of the medical reference centers in West Africa. For travelers who need to take regular medication, it is recommended that they be taken with them. In Dakar, all common medications can be obtained from pharmacies (mostly from France), but counterfeit medications cannot be completely ruled out. In the countryside there are health stations (centre medical) that provide basic medical care and whose staff also speak French.

The German embassy offers a list of doctors to download.


Infectious diseases and prevention

Practically the full range of tropical diseases is on offer. Senegal is a yellow fever and malaria area (more than 70% of all cases are M. tropica). A yellow fever vaccination is recommended for all travelers. It is only required when entering from a yellow fever area (except for children under one year of age), i.e. H. most of the African states south of Senegal,

There should also be vaccination protection against tetanus, diphtheria, polio, hepatitis A, and for long-term stays of more than four weeks, hepatitis B, rabies, typhus and meningococcal disease (including types A and W).

The standard vaccinations for children recommended by the Robert Koch Institute should all be carried out.

There is a risk of contracting malaria throughout the country. In Senegal, the dangerous malaria tropica is responsible for over 70% of cases. Taking tablets as a preventive measure is recommended. Further protective measures include mosquito nets, mosquito-proof clothing, avoiding particularly dark and particularly light clothing and using insect repellent. These also apply to prevent infection with dengue fever (also transmitted by mosquitoes).

To prevent diarrhea, the old adage “cook it, peel it or forget it” is recommended. The most dangerous diarrheal disease is cholera, and the region around Touba is particularly at risk.

Another disease that can have unpleasant consequences is schistosomiasis, which you can become infected with when swimming in fresh water in stagnant or slow-moving water.

HIV/AIDS: In Senegal, around 1% of the population is infected with HIV, although 27% of prostitutes are infected. Condoms, clean injection equipment and no contact with blood are the basic rules for avoiding infection.


Climate and travel time

In Senegal, the weather is determined by a typical tropical climate with clearly defined rainy and dry seasons. In winter there are predominantly north-easterly winds and in summer predominantly south-westerly winds. The average rainfall is 600 mm, most of which falls between June and October. The amount of precipitation increases from the savannah-like north to the wooded south (rainforest), here the amount of precipitation can be more than 1500 mm. In the rainy season from June to October the maximum temperatures are 27°C and in the winter between December and February the average temperature is a minimum of 17°C. In general, temperatures inland are higher than on the coast.

The best time to travel is spring with low rainfall and pleasant temperatures. In principle, however, Senegal is easy to travel all year round.


Respect and rules of conduct

Despite the fun-loving and colorful nature, Senegal is a predominantly Muslim country. Therefore, appropriate behavior that applies to other Muslim countries must be observed. In particular, mosques should be treated with the necessary respect, i.e. H. enter without shoes and with your head covered. Clothing that is too revealing is also not an advantage.


Important legal provisions

As almost everywhere in Africa, caution is advised when photographing uniformed personnel (including police stations), embassies and government buildings. Foreigners must be able to identify themselves at all times.

Customs offenses are punished comparatively draconianly (prison). Possession of narcotics is severely punished; German citizens are subject to Senegalese law. Homosexuality is punishable under Senegalese law. Violations of public morality in general - discreet prostitution is permitted - as well as sex with people under 16 can also be punished with fines.



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 coastal state on the Atlantic coast around Cap Vert in the far west of Africa. In the north and northeast, Senegal borders Mauritania with the border river Senegal and in the east, the left Senegal tributary Falémé forms the border with neighboring Mali. In the south, a land border that runs almost exactly in an east-west direction leads back to the Atlantic with the neighboring states of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau. Excluded from this circumscribed border is a strip of land in the south of the Atlantic on both sides of the mouth and the navigable lower reaches of the Gambia River. This 300 kilometer deep gash forms the territory of Gambia. The border between Gambia and Senegal makes it difficult to connect Senegal's southwest region of Casamance to the rest of the country.

Due to regional differences in rainfall, Senegal lies in the transition from the barren vegetation of the Sahel zone in the north to the more fertile tropics in the south.



The highest elevation in the country (♁12° 22′ N, 12° 33′ W) is the summit of the Nepen-Diakha Mountains at 645 meters. These are located in the Kédougou region on the border with Guinea, 126 km west of the border triangle with Mali and Guinea. The coast is 531 kilometers long. The landscape consists of plains that slowly rise to the mountain foothills in the southeast. In the south of the country - near Vélingara - lies the Vélingara crater.



The Senegal Current is the most important river in the country. It rises as Bafing in the mountains of Fouta Djallon in Guinea. After confluence with the Bakoye in Mali, it absorbs the Falémé as the border river between Mali and Senegal. From then on, Senegal forms Senegal's northern border with Mauritania over a length of around 500 km. Other important rivers in the country are Casamance, Gambia and its tributaries Koulountou, Sine and Saloum. What all of these bodies of water have in common is that they have a very low gradient due to the country's very flat surface profile. All main streams flow into the Atlantic Ocean in extensive deltas. The water supply is subject to pronounced seasonal fluctuations. In the dry season, on the one hand, seawater can penetrate several hundred kilometers upstream with the tide (on the Senegal River, this tidal flow was limited by the construction of the Diama Dam), while on the other hand, during the rainy season, floods and floods are common.

The largest lake in the country is the shallow Lac de Guiers with a north-south extent of 80 km and an east-west extent of up to 12 km. During the rainy season the lake can expand considerably south into the Ferlo. Lac de Guiers is of great importance for the drinking water supply of the region as well as Dakar. The salt lake Lac Retba, not far from Dakar, is famous for its pink color due to the activity of organisms in the water. It is important for salt production and tourism; it is on the Senegalese list of proposals for UNESCO World Heritage.

The approximately 500 km long Atlantic coast of Senegal is characterized by the meeting of the cool Canary Current, the warm equatorial current and cold upwelling water. The Canary Islands Current dominates in the dry season between December and April. The water temperature of the Canary Current, which is below 20 °C, and the cold upwelling water make the Senegalese coast a cold water coast in the winter months. In the rainy season between June and November, however, the equatorial current dominates with water temperatures of 27–28 °C. The combination of nutrient-rich deep water and the high production of phytoplankton in surface water leads to very large fish populations; The seasonal change in water temperature leads to long-range migration of fish species, e.g. tuna.



The climate of Senegal is characterized by a pronounced change between the dry north-east trade wind and the moist air masses of the West African monsoon and the associated marked change between dry and rainy seasons.

During the summer months from April to October, the country is in the influence zone of the West African monsoon, which advances northwards. This brings heavy rainfall to the south of Senegal, while it leads to showers in the north. In the winter months between October and April, dry, continental air penetrates south from the northeast; The harmattan is blowing, a dry, partly dust-laden wind. At the same time, moist and cool passatic air masses prevail on the coast.

Annual rainfall varies from 1500 millimeters in the south to less than 350 millimeters in the north and northeast. What is crucial for the country, however, is the variability of precipitation. A drop in average annual precipitation between 1968 and 1973 led to a long-term drought. Short periods of drought within a rainy season are also a significant risk to agriculture and can cause serious crop losses.

Temperatures range from 22 to 27 °C in winter on the coast and over 40 °C at the end of the dry season inland. Humidity only occurs for a short time in March and April.

Alternations between wet and dry phases have been normal over the last 20,000 years; For a long time it was unclear whether the decline in precipitation recorded over the last 50 years was caused by humans or not. However, the country's slow aridization is having devastating effects on nature, people and the economy.

National Parks
Basse-Casamance National Park (founded in 1970)
Delta du Saloum National Park (founded in 1976): with swamps and mangrove forests; Birds and also mammals
Djoudj National Park (founded in 1971): UNESCO World Heritage Site; one of the largest bird reserves in West Africa with around 330 bird species; From November to April it is the home of European migratory birds
Îles de la Madeleine National Park (founded in 1976)
Langue de Barbarie National Park (founded in 1976): approximately 20 square kilometers; located at the mouth of Senegal; Waterfowl and European migratory birds
Niokolo-Koba National Park (founded in 1954): UNESCO World Heritage Site; 9500 square kilometers; 80 species of mammals including Senegal's last elephants and 300 species of birds


Animal world

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).



Empire period

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.


Pre-colonial period

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.


Colonial period

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[13], 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.