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République du Sénégal
Republic of Senegal
Flag of Senegal
Coat of arms of Senegal
flag coat of arms
Motto : "Un Peuple, Un But, Une Foi": "One people, one goal, one belief"
Official language French
Capital Dakar
Form of government republic
Government system Presidential Democracy
Head of state , also head of government President of the Republic of
Macky Sall
surface 196,722 km²
population 15,854,360 (2018)
Population density 81 inhabitants per km²
Population development   + 2.42% (2016)
gross domestic product
  • Nominal
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nominal)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 23.50 billion ( 111. )
  • $ 59.85 billion ( 106. )
  • 1,441 USD ( 157. )
  • 3,671 USD ( 156. )
Human Development Index   0.505 ( 164th ) (2017)
currency CFA Franc BCEAO (XOF)
independence June 20, 1960 (from France )
August 20, 1960 (from the Mali Federation )
National anthem Pincez Tous vos Koras, Frappez les Balafons
Time zone UTC ± 0
License Plate SN
ISO 3166 SN , SEN, 686
Internet TLD .sn
Telephone code +221
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The Republic of Senegal ( French République du Sénégal [ seneˈgal ]) is a state in West Africa . It extends from the foothills of the Sahara in the north, where the country borders on Mauritania , to the beginning of the tropical wet forest in the south, the neighbors Guinea and Guinea-Bissau , as well as from the cool Atlantic coast in the west to the hot Sahel region the border with Mali in the east. The southern parts of the French-speaking Senegal, the Casamance , are separated by the English-speaking small state of Gambia , which extends deep into the east .

Senegal has a good 15.4 million inhabitants (2016). The capital is the metropolis of Dakar , other important cities are Pikine , Touba , Guédiawaye and Thiès . Under the government of President Macky Sall , plans to develop the young city of Diamniadio , which is 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 12th century. Today, more than 90% of the country's population profess Islam . After the region was ruled by several African empires, it became a French colony in Africa in 1895 . The Republic of Senegal gained independence on August 20, 1960, has maintained a multi-party system ever since, and has become one of the few democratic states on the African continent.

From the 1980s onwards, however, the 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 formerly prosperous Senegal , to which Casamance's attempts to split off from 1982 onwards. As a result, Senegal made itself dependent on loans from the industrialized and oil countries as well as on development aid . The economic recovery is gradual. In terms of GDP per capita , the country was 156th out of 190 in 2018. The country was ranked 166th out of 189 on the Human Development Index .


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 with the border river Senegal on Mauritania and in the east the left Senegal tributary Falémé forms the border with neighboring Mali . In the south, a land border running almost exactly in an east-west direction with the neighboring states of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau leads back to the Atlantic. Excluded from this border so circumscribed is a strip of land in the south from the Atlantic on both sides of the mouth and the navigable lower reaches of the Gambia River . This 300-kilometer-deep incision forms the national territory of Gambia . The border between Gambia and Senegal makes it difficult to connect the Senegalese southwest region of Casamance to the rest of the country.

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

Landscape image

The highest point 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 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 a Bafing in the mountains of Fouta Djallon in Guinea. After the confluence with the Bakoyé in Mali, it takes up the Falémé as the border river between Mali and Senegal . From then on, Senegal forms the northern border of Senegal with Mauritania over a length of about 500 km. Other major rivers in the country are the Casamance , Gambia and its tributaries, the Koulountou , Sine and Saloum . All of these waters have in common that they have a very low gradient due to the very flat surface profile of the country. All the main streams flow into the Atlantic Ocean in extensive deltas . The water flow is subject to pronounced seasonal fluctuations. During the dry season, on the one hand, seawater can penetrate several hundred kilometers upriver with the flood (on the Senegal River, this tidal current was limited by the construction of the Diama Dam ), on the other hand, during the rainy season, floods and flooding are frequent.

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

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 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 large-scale migration of fish species, e.g. B. of tuna .


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

During the summer months from April to October, the country is in the zone of influence of the West African monsoons , which penetrate northwards. This brings abundant rainfall to the south of Senegal, while it leads to shower activity 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, cool and humid passatic air masses prevail on the coast.

The annual rainfall varies from 1,500 millimeters in the south to less than 350 millimeters in the north and northeast. The decisive factor for the country, however, is the variability of precipitation. A decrease 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 for agriculture and can cause serious crop failures.

Temperatures are between 22 and 27 ° C in winter on the coast and over 40 ° C at the end of the dry season inland. Humidity only occurs briefly in March and April.

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


Cities in Senegal are a relatively new phenomenon. Unlike in neighboring countries, no trading cities were founded here, as the country was off the trade routes through the Sahara. In 1920 there were only four places with a population of over 5,000. Towns were founded during the colonial period, especially along the railway line that opened up the peanut basin .

The cities grew rapidly from 1955 onwards. In contrast to numerous countries in the Global South , urbanization is not limited to the capital city. The growth is fed on the one hand by labor and training migration to Dakar, but also in the secondary centers, in which medium-sized cities have meanwhile become large cities. Rapid urbanization is taking place along supply arteries, even in small towns, which is driven by numerous rural refugees, especially during droughts. Another characteristic of urbanization in Senegal are the fast-growing Holy Cities , in which numerous believers settle in order to be able to be closer to the sanctuary. The population of Touba grew from 3,000 in 1961 to more than 500,000 people.

In cities, the growth of which is mainly fed by rural refugees, neighborhoods are formed that are populated by people from the same region or ethnic origin. Networks of solidarity are formed there; at the same time, however, the main interest of the new townspeople remains in their old homeland. In times of crisis or during school holidays, the family is sent back to their home village because it is easier to survive there in the extended family. Transfer payments and new ideas from the city also lead to rapid modernization processes in the countryside.

According to the census of November 19, 2013, the ten largest cities are: Pikine 1,170,791 inhabitants, Dakar 1,146,052 inhabitants, Touba 779,740 inhabitants, Guédiawaye 329,658 inhabitants, Thiès 317,763 inhabitants, Kaolack 233,708 inhabitants, Mbour 232,777 inhabitants, Rufisque 221,066 Inhabitants, Saint-Louis 209,752 inhabitants and Ziguinchor 205,294 inhabitants.

National parks


Senegal has a young population

The population counts around 15,416,000 people (2016), of which around 58 percent are under 20 years old. Population growth is around 2.01 percent annually. The population has more than doubled in the last 20 years. Much of the population lives on the west coast; there especially in the catchment area of ​​the capital Dakar. 51 percent of the population live in more rural areas. Hundreds of thousands of Senegalese live abroad, especially in France . The average life expectancy in Senegal is 63.8 years for men and 67.5 years for women (2015). The country has one of the highest life expectancies in Africa.

According to the UN's average population forecast, a population of around 34 million is expected for the year 2050.

Population development

Population development in millions of inhabitants
year population
1950 2,487,000
1960 3,207,000
1970 4,258,000
1980 5,593,000
1990 7,556,000
2000 9,884,000
2010 12,916,000
2016 15,416,000

In 2016, 44.1% of the population lived in cities or urban areas. Many cities in Senegal are growing rapidly. The largest cities and municipalities are (2013 census):

  1. Dakar (including Pikine and Guédiawaye ): 2,646,503 inhabitants
  2. Touba : 753,315 inhabitants
  3. Thiès : 317,763 inhabitants
  4. Kaolack : 233,708 inhabitants
  5. M'bour : 232,777 inhabitants
  6. Rufisque : 221,066 inhabitants
  7. Saint-Louis: 209,752 inhabitants
  8. Ziguinchor : 205,294 inhabitants

Ethnic groups

In the village of Senegal

The most important people of Senegal are the Wolof . The Wolof founded several feudal kingdoms between the 15th and 19th centuries , the traces of which are still visible in the society of the country today. In the colonial times, the majority of the inhabitants of the colonial cities came from the Wolof, and the officials were mainly recruited from this ethnic group. Despite the collaboration with the French, the Wolof have retained their own culture. The Wolof are mostly Muslim. The Lébou are a small people, very close to the Wolof, of around 50,000 people. They live along the coast of Cap Vert, where they fish and horticulture. They too are Muslims and most of them belong to the Layène Brotherhood.

The Serer are a farming people in central and western Senegal. They adopted Islam very late and refused to adopt French cultural elements. Nevertheless, there is a minority of Catholic Serians today, e. B. the former president Léopold Sédar Senghor .

The Toucouleur are also a peasant people. They colonize the region along the Senegal River . They were Islamized as early as the 12th century and later played an important role in the spread of Islam in the south-bordering parts of the country. The Toucouleur live in a kind of symbiosis with the Fulbe , who live nomadic or semi-nomadic and raise cattle; however, many Fulbe now also live as craftsmen or traders in the cities.

The Diola live in the south of the country, in the Casamance, and are mainly rice farmers. In contrast to the other peoples of Senegal, the Diola have largely retained their extended family structures and have not founded any feudal empires. They are not very Islamized, Christianity predominates among the Diola. The independence movement in the Casamance is largely recruited from Diola, who want to fight the dominance of the Wolof, the capital Dakar and Islam.

The Mandinka , Bambara and Soninke are ethnic groups that have strong cross-border connections, especially to Mali .

The French, who held colonial administration from 1904 to 1958, are among the significant minorities; After Senegal's independence, it was dissolved, but thousands of French are in the country as experts or development workers. The Moors used to have a high position as wise men and Sufi sheikhs in Senegalese society, which they have now lost. Today they live as cattle herders or general merchants in the cities. Although the pogroms of 1989 forced many Moors to leave the country, the old structures have now largely been restored. The Lebanese minority lives mainly as traders, transporters and importers. They are usually very wealthy and have dovetailed with the governance of the country through skill and corruption. Until the colonization of West Africa, the Métis were still of great importance. These descendants of European traders and their African wives or mistresses took on the function of intermediaries between Europe and Africa.


In Senegal, as in most African countries, a large number of languages ​​are spoken. The six main languages Wolof , Serer , Diola , Pulaar , Soninke and Mandinka all belong to the Niger-Kordofan language family . They are therefore closely related to one another, even though their speakers cannot understand each other in their mother tongues.

There are no official statistics on how many people in Senegal speak which languages. Wolof is indisputably the most important language; it is the mother tongue of around 50% of the country's population and another 20–30% speak it as a second language. Thus it is the lingua franca of Senegal, as well as the neighboring Gambia. Its importance derives from the dominance of the Wolof people in the historical states of the region. The modern Wolof of Cities has abundant French vocabulary and is used in pop and rap music. The traditional Wolof the Griot music is only spoken in rural areas. Serer is the mother tongue of 15% of the population; this language is closely related to Wolof.

Pulaar (also Fulbe ) is the mother tongue of about a quarter of the inhabitants of Senegal, especially the Toucouleur and the Peul . The speakers of this language were the first to adopt the Arabic script in the country's history. They look back on a long history, some of which has been handed down in writing and some orally.

In the upper Senegal Valley and in Bundu there are around one million speakers of Mande languages : the presence of the 200,000 or so Soninke speakers today goes back to the rule of the Ghana Empire in the region, while the ancestors of today's 600,000 people Mandinka group were settled in what is now Senegal during colonial times. The approximately 350,000 speakers of Diola belong to a group of related peoples and live in the western part of Casamance.

Most of the traditional languages ​​of Senegal are written with a Latin alphabet, but there are also Arabicized variants. The Arabic script is the oldest script in Senegal, and it is still taught in numerous Koran schools. Wolofal is, for example, the version of Wolof written in Arabic script, which is used in religious texts, but is also often used by Murids for profane texts.

The country's official language is French . The Republic of Senegal was one of the founding members of the Francophonie ; modern literature, print media and cinema use French almost exclusively, and public education also uses this language. In addition to the official language, some other languages ​​are recognized as national languages . These include balanta ganja ; Hassania ; Diola ; Mandinka ; Mandjak ; Mankanja ; Noon (Serer Noon); Fulfulde ; Seereer-Siin ; Soninke and Wolof .


The mosque of Ouakam

Senegal is an Islamic dominated country: between 90% and 94% of the country’s residents profess Sunni Islam; here again the Malikite school of law is predominant. Although it is a secular state according to its constitution and there is widespread acceptance of other religions, religious dignitaries play a major role in day-to-day politics.

The Islamization of Senegal began in the Maghreb between the 9th and 11th centuries in the north of the country. Between the 13th and 16th centuries it spread under the Wolof aristocracy, but remained a minority religion. Islam only reached its present-day influence in the 18th and 19th centuries, when it was able to distinguish itself as an anti-colonial movement and gain popularity.

A peculiarity of Senegalese Islam is that almost every believer is a member of a brotherhood . These movements, founded by charismatic thinkers of Sufism and led by a caliph , determine the social life of the country in many ways. The most influential orders are

  • the Tijani , a brotherhood founded in Fez in the 18th century that unites around 50% of Muslims
  • the Murids , an important brotherhood that was founded in Senegal itself in 1883 by Sheikh Amadou Bamba Mbacké . It was actively promoted by French colonial rule and counts mainly Wolof farmers among its supporters; about 30% of Senegalese Muslims belong to the murids.
  • the Qadiriyya , one of the oldest Sufi orders; 10–15% of Muslims belong to it, especially Moors and other minorities.
  • the Order of Layène ; it is a relatively small order with only 20,000-30,000 members; it was founded by Seydina Mouhammadou Limamou Laye and is dominant among the Lébou of the Cap Vert peninsula .

Sufi shrines and images of the founders of the brotherhoods are omnipresent; Settlements or even cities have sprung up around important shrines. The holy cities like Touba , where Amadou Bamba is buried, or Médina-Gounass exist almost exclusively for the worship of the leaders of the brotherhoods and are also administered by them; they almost completely evade regular state power.

The Christianity already came with the arrival of the first Portuguese explorers to Senegal. The Christian community in Senegal consisted mainly of the Portuguese Lançados and their descendants, the Métis . The French missionary efforts during the colonial period were limited to the not yet Islamized peoples in order to maintain social peace. The Christians of Senegal can therefore be found mainly among the Serians and the Diola in the south of the country. In general, the relationship between Christians and Muslims in Senegal is one of mutual respect.

Traditional African religions occur in the far south of the country. Statistics generally indicate the proportion of Senegalese who follow these beliefs as 1%. However, traces of animism and belief in ghosts exist nationwide regardless of religious affiliation.


Seasonal migrations are a traditional part of culture in the Sahel zone , where parts of the population live nomadically. The herders visit the regions around the rivers during the dry season, while they move inland during the rainy season.

The economic development of the colonial era led to labor migration . The navetanes were seasonal workers from the neighboring countries of Senegal who found work in the peanut basin . While this type of migration has long since come to a standstill, urbanization , the influx of people into the cities, above all to the metropolitan region of Dakar , continues unabated. Training and jobs for people with higher education are almost exclusively available here.

In 2017, 1.7% of the population were born abroad. The most common countries of origin were Mauritania, Guinea, Mali and Guinea-Bissau.

Emigration from Senegal, preferably to France, began as early as the 19th century. Today, in addition to France, the rest of the EU, and to a lesser extent the USA and other West African countries, are the destinations of emigrants. Of the hundreds of thousands of Senegalese who already live in France, many have taken French citizenship in addition to the French way of life. They have a not insignificant influence on the culture of Senegal and their remittances represent an important economic factor.



Public health expenditure in 2004 amounted to 2.4 percent of gross domestic product. Private health expenditure was 3.5 percent of GDP. In 2004, health spending was US $ 72 (purchasing power parity) per capita. In the early 2000s, the fertility rate was 5.2. In the early 2000s there were six doctors per 100,000 population. In 2005, the infant mortality rate was 77 per 1,000 live births . According to the WHO, only 0.5% of the population was infected with the HI virus in 2014. This makes Senegal one of the least affected countries in Africa.

Life expectancy in Senegal over time

year Life expectancy
in years
year Life expectancy in
1960 38.2 1990 57.2
1965 38.4 1995 57.4
1970 39.2 2000 57.8
1975 43.5 2005 60.4
1980 48.9 2010 64.0
1985 53.9 2015 66.8

Source: World Bank


44.3% of the population is illiterate . Around 31.5% of men and 56.2% of women were unable to read or write correctly or at all in 2015. Articles 21 and 22 of the Constitution, introduced in January 2001, guarantee access to education for all children. School is compulsory and free until the age of 16. The school system has been reformed since 2003. The Senegalese Ministry of Labor has said that the public school system is unable to cope with the large number of children that have to be admitted each year. In 2010, 5.6% of GDP was spent on education.



Archaeological finds on the Cape Verde peninsula and the upper Senegal valley prove that today's Senegal was already settled in the Acheuléen . Numerous legacies of the country's earliest inhabitants are suspected throughout the country, but overall the prehistory of Senegal has been little explored. Megaliths , barrows and shell islands from the Neolithic and Iron Age have been preserved along the coast. The orally transmitted history of the Wolof and Serer ascribes this to a people called Soose , who are said to have settled the region at that time. What is certain is that the population at that time lived in villages, engaged in agriculture, cattle breeding and fishing.

The West African Kingdoms

Contemporary depiction of a Wolof warrior from Waalo

The introduction of iron processing also brought about social upheaval. As a result, states emerged; the first historically documented state in what is now Senegal was Takrur . It was created around the same time as the Gao and Ghana to the east ; The latter developed into an empire in the 9th century that stretched as far as the Senegal River. However, Takrur, in all likelihood, remained independent. Around 1050 the Almoravids began religiously motivated campaigns in what is now Mauritania. They created an empire that stretched from Spain to the southern edge of the Sahara. It is not clear whether Takrur became part of this realm. The influence of the Almoravids, however, strengthened ties to Islam; the first king of Takrur to profess Islam was War Jaabi .

In the 13th century, the state of Jolof emerged in the lower Senegal delta . This state was much more centralized than Takrur and quickly expanded south. However, the dominance in the region was lost to the Mali Empire a little later . Takrur and Jolof became tributaries to Mali, the Casamance and today's Gambia became provinces directly part of the Mali Empire. They allowed the empire to trade on the coast and perhaps even to explore the ocean. The Mali Empire reached the height of its power in the 14th century; then the western parts of the Mandinka Empire formed in the state of Gabu , while Jolof asserted himself north of the Gambia River.

In 1444 the first Portuguese ship reached the coast of what is now Senegal. The Portuguese were primarily interested in trading African gold bypassing the Arabs. In the following centuries the trade was carried out by Lançados , descendants of Portuguese sailors and African women. Lançados parishes existed in numerous places along the African coast; however, these were initially not colonies. Towards the end of the 15th century there was a strong northern migration from Tukulor , which finally destroyed the state of Takrur and caused Jolof to disintegrate into several kingdoms, namely Waalo , Cayor , Baol , Sine and Saloum . These states were all unstable; Nobles, kings and members of the warrior caste of the old Mali Empire fought for influence.

The first reliable evidence of the name Senega both for the river and for the land adjacent to it goes back to the middle of the 15th century , which is possibly identical to the name of the Berber tribal group of the Sanhādscha .

Colonial times

The Maison des esclaves in Gorée , an example of colonial architecture and a memorial to slavery
Palais du Général Governorate in Dakar, French West Africa

The instability of the states of today's Senegal was exacerbated by the slave trade . From the 17th century onwards, the Portuguese dealer network was replaced by fortified French, Dutch and British colonies, mostly offshore islands. The armed conflicts between the states now increasingly aimed at acquiring prisoners. Although slavery was a feature of traditional societies, the number of people displaced towards America had a devastating effect on the demographics of the region. When the slave trade came to a standstill, the rulers again had difficulties compensating for the loss of income. The result was a series of Islamic revolutions from 1673 to 1888 that overthrew the kings and tried to establish Islamic states. Most of these revolutions failed because the monarchs were supported by the French with firearms.

The French had established colonies , especially in Saint Louis and Goree , which were formally subordinate to governors of the trading companies. However, circumstances prevented administrative structures from being established. The real power in these centers was slowly taken over by Métis, who controlled trade with the hinterland. The Métis refused to implement the ban on slavery that was passed in the wake of the French Revolution; this did not officially happen until 1848. The Métis also developed new trading activities, such as first rubber and later massive peanut exports.

By 1891, the entire area of ​​what is now Senegal came under French control. The kingdoms were replaced by cantons headed by aristocrats according to the traditional system, but who had little influence. The French took advantage of the significantly stronger influence of the up-and-coming Sufi orders for the purpose of spreading peanut cultivation in their favor. The quatre communes Saint Louis, Gorée, Rufisque and Dakar had been parishes with full French citizenship since 1848. Here society developed according to the French model: newspapers, political parties and trade unions emerged; Elections were held and in 1914 Blaise Diagne was elected the first African representative of the Four Communes in the French Parliament. In 1902 Dakar became the capital of the Confederation Afrique Occidentale Française (AOF), founded in 1895 .

The emerging emancipation movements were intensified by the two world wars in which Senegalese troops were deployed on the French side. On February 19, 1945, under the French colonial administration, a decree was passed stating that there was no difference between Senegalese and French women in terms of active and passive women's suffrage ; they are electoral and eligible for election under the same conditions. In 1956, still under French colonial rule, the loi-cadre Defferre was introduced, which guaranteed universal suffrage for adults. When the country was independent in 1960, this right was confirmed.

Léopold Sédar Senghor was the politician who was able to best unite the contrasts between the people in the European-oriented cities and the religious-conservative rural population . He managed to form a coalition that united the socialists from Lamine Guèye to the Caliph of the Murid Order, Falilou Mbacké . When the AOF was dissolved in 1960, numerous leading personalities rejected the break-up of West Africa into small nation states. As a consequence, the country achieved its independence together with today's Mali as a Mali Federation on June 20, 1960. Just 2 months later, however, Senghor and Modibo Keita fell out and both states went their separate ways. Senghor was elected the country's first president on September 5, 1960.

Since independence

Léopold Senghor, 1987

After independence, a government model was introduced in the Republic of Senegal that was very much based on France: Senegal is still a strongly centralized presidential republic today. The three personalities who dominated the first years of independence were President Léopold Sédar Senghor , President Lamine Guèye and Prime Minister Mamadou Dia . The latter began an ambitious program of economic and political reforms; However, he was accused of planning a coup in 1962 and arrested.

After this political crisis, a new constitution was adopted in 1963 that strengthened the rights of the president; at the same time, Senegal was effectively a one-party state, so that in 1965 only the Union Progressiste Sénégalaise of the President was allowed. Above all, Senghor pursued a visionary cultural policy in which the state financed festivals, studios and museums. At the same time, however, the country's most important export, peanuts, began to fall in price, and a series of droughts brought about a further decline in production. The resulting decline in state revenue led to serious social tensions. In view of the crisis, the political system was liberalized again, in 1974 the opposition party Parti Démocratique Sénégalais was admitted and in 1980 Senghor abdicated as the first African head of state and handed over the office to Abdou Diouf .

During Diouf's term of office, armed conflicts both internally and externally as well as a steady economic decline fall. The implementation of the reforms demanded by Senegal's creditors brought privatization and the end of subsidies, which sharply increased the cost of living for the people. In 1981/82 Senegal sent its army to Gambia to assist President Dawda Jawara in a military coup. The subsequently founded Confederation of Senegambia did not have a long lifespan. The Casamance conflict broke out in 1982 , with the separatist movement Mouvement des forces démocratiques de la Casamance at its head. Disputes over grazing and water usage rights on the Senegal River finally led to a border war with Mauritania in 1989 , which killed 400 people and forced numerous people on both sides of the border to return to their homeland. After a military coup in neighboring Guinea-Bissau , Senegal and Guinea sent troops in June 1998.

After all the ballots in the 1980s and 1990s had led to strong internal political tensions, the first peaceful change of power south of the Sahara took place in 2000: Abdoulaye Wade won the presidential elections and, a year later, his party also won the parliamentary elections. In January 2001 the constitution was changed by referendum. The president's term of office was limited to a maximum of two five-year mandates. Wade's policy was aimed at liberalization, investment friendliness and the promotion of telecommunications and tourism, but success is still a long time coming. At the same time, Wade was increasingly accused of clientelism and waste; the purchasing power of the Senegalese continued to decline and young people in particular turned away from his politics.

In the 2012 presidential election in Senegal , challenger Macky Sall prevailed over incumbent Wade in a runoff election.


Political system

According to the Senegalese constitution , the Republic of Senegal is a presidential democracy . At the head of the government is the directly elected president . After a constitutional amendment in 2019, he is also head of government. He appoints the ministers. The legislature is the Assemblée nationale , consisting of 165 members.

Administrative division

With independence, Senegal initially took over the division into circles ('cercles') from the colonial era. In 1962 the districts were subdivided into arrondissements and in 1964 the districts became départements. In 1976, Law No. 76-61 of June 26, 1976 created a three-tier structure with regions, departments and arrondissements. Regions already existed in 1960, seven in number, but their competencies were still very limited. This gradually changed, and in 1976 an eighth Louga region was created by dividing the Diourbel region. In 1984, Law No. 84-22 of March 24, 1984 limited the number of departments to three per region and four new regions were created (Kolda, Ziguinchor, Fatick and Kaolack). In 2002, the Matan department was spun off from the St. Louis region and raised to regional status. With the law No. 2008-14 of March 18, 2008, a further three regions were created from the previous departments of Kaffrine, Kédougou and Sédhiou, which were spun off from the regions Kaolack, Tambacounda and Kolda.

When it gained independence in 1960, Senegal had around 30 cities ( communes ). And an ordinance of 1957 gave the holders of traditional territorial power the power to create rural communities ( communautés rurales ) as corporations with a certain degree of financial independence. Starting from the Thiès region, governments were gradually created in all regions between 1972 and 1996 in the spirit of decentralization. Since then there have been three types of self-advocacy bodies in the country, namely regions, rural communities (Communautés rurales) and municipalities ( communes d'arrondissement as districts in the big cities and communes as urban communes). After completion of the territorial administrative reform in 1996, Senegal was divided into 10 regions, 30 departments, 91 arrondissements, 60 communes, 43 communes d'arrondissement and 320 communautés rurales. This administrative division has been modified several times since then.

Gambia Guinea-Bissau Guinea Mali Mauretanien Region Saint-Louis Region Dakar Region Ziguinchor Region Sédhiou Region Kolda Region Kédougou Region Thiès Region Louga Region Diourbel Region Kaolack Region Fatick Region Kaffrine Region Matam Region Tambacounda
Regions in Senegal

Since 2008, Senegal has been divided into 14 regions (régions) , which in turn are divided into a total of 45 départements :

In 2013, the constitution of the local authorities ( Code général des Collectivités locales ) was fundamentally revised with the declared aim of remedying deficiencies and weaknesses that had previously shown up in the implementation of decentralization by creating viable organizational territorial units that can guarantee sustainable development. This reform is known as "l'Acte III de la decentralization". Because of its complexity and because of its fundamental importance for the future of the country, this reform will only be carried out gradually and in two phases.

In a first phase, the regions should lose their status as local authorities and the departments should acquire this status. Furthermore, the communautés rurales and the communes d'arrondissement are to be elevated to the status of communes . The big cities ( Villes ) should be able to use the responsibilities together with the communes created within their borders . Finally, the responsibilities between the Communes and the Départments are to be redefined. This reform is quite controversial, raises questions and is not consistently seen as effective.

Domestic politics

Senegal is characterized by constitutional and democratic structures; fundamental freedoms, in particular freedom of religion, opinion, press and assembly, are guaranteed.

For many years the Casamance conflict in the part of the country south of Gambia was a problem of domestic politics . The rebel movement MFDC fought for its independence , as the region is historically, economically, ethnically and religiously shaped differently than the heartland. As a result of an agreement on foreign policy with the neighboring countries Gambia and Guinea-Bissau, the conflict gradually calmed down by 2015. The downfall of Le Joola , which killed almost an entire generation of Casamance students, led to the overthrow of Prime Minister Mame Madior Boye's government in November 2002 .

There are some problems in the education sector. 65 percent of the population are illiterate, the school enrollment rate is 60 percent. There is a big difference between the high level of education of a small elite and the low level of the majority of the population. Since 2002/2003 this has been counteracted by introducing national languages ​​in the first two years of primary school and increasing adult literacy.

Despite guaranteed freedom of the press and freedom of expression, critical reporting was not always possible without restrictions. Especially in the second term of office of President Abdoulaye Wade between 2007 and 2012, the "notorious Article 80 of the criminal law" (protection of national or public security) was also used against the press and its representatives, although Wade had announced in 2004 that it would be deleted . The Institut Giga reported in this connection: “It was not until May 2009 that the proceedings against the well-known journalist Madiambal Diagne, owner of 'Le Quotidien', which had been pending for years, were closed. The newspaper reported on corruption at customs and the direct interference of the executive branch in the judiciary. ” After a defamation lawsuit, the editorial offices of the Internet portal 24 Heures Chrono were devastated by hired thugs from the ruling party Parti Démocratique Sénégalais (PDS) .

After the Corruption Perception Index ( Corruption Perceptions Index ) of Transparency International was Senegal in 2016 from 180 countries together with Hungary on the 66th, making it one of the better countries in Africa.

Foreign policy

Relations with France dominate in foreign policy . The Senegalese government maintains a high standard of diplomacy. In doing so, it tries to maintain a balance between emerging and industrialized countries, so it has a mediating role.

Senegal has diplomatic missions in 48 countries , including Germany and Switzerland. 72 countries have diplomatic missions in Senegal, including Germany , Switzerland and Austria.

African unity is the President's primary concern. The CEDEAO (Communauté Economique des Etats de l'Afrique de l'Ouest) is a first step in this direction. Furthermore, Senegal has recognized Israel as one of the few predominantly Islamic countries and also maintains diplomatic relations with this state.

Senegal has had observer status in the Community of Portuguese- Speaking Countries (CPLP) since 2008 . The background is in particular the linguistic and cultural history of the Casamance region and the historical Portuguese-Senegalese relations .

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010 , the President of Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade , offered the victims the opportunity to settle here. With appropriate immigration figures, Haitians could be offered an entire region. The justification for the proposal was that the Haitians, as descendants of African slaves, also had a right to their “African heritage”.


The Forces armées du Sénégal have a staff of 17,000 soldiers. They were founded in 1960 and are divided into

  • Gendarmerie
  • Army (Armée de terre)
  • Marine (marine national)
  • Luftwaffe (Armée de l'air), this did not operate jets until 2019, but surveillance aircraft ( CN-235MP NC-212 ) and transport and attack helicopters Mi-17 and Mi-24 . According to reports, four L-39 jets should be put into service for advanced training in 2020/2021 .

Senegal spent just under 1.9 percent of its economic output, or US $ 305 million, on its armed forces in 2017.


In principle, Senegal has the status of a developing country , but it is more developed than other West African countries, which makes its products look overpriced in regional comparison. The national parks attract some tourists, with the government being careful to avoid mass tourism. In 2016, almost 1 million tourists visited the country. Tourism income was $ 368 million in 2015.

The most important economic sectors are fishing and agriculture, tourism and the construction sector. Most of the export revenues come from phosphate mining and agriculture. The country is also heavily dependent on development aid and remittances from the Senegalese abroad. Thanks to economic growth, poverty has been reduced in recent years. In 2016, the economy grew by 6.6%, making the country one of the fastest growing in the world.

The Macky Sall government's "Emerging Senegal Plan" is intended to further boost growth and initiate the industrialization of the country. The plan provides for infrastructure projects across the country to improve Senegal's competitiveness and reduce the very high energy costs. The 2016 financial year envisages the implementation or start of 19 projects, including a motorway from Thiès to Touba and a new airport. The USA is the main donor.

In the Global Competitiveness Index , which measures a country's competitiveness, Senegal ranks 106th out of 137 countries (as of 2017-2018). In 2019, the country ranks 117th out of 180 countries in the index for economic freedom .

Key figures

All GDP values ​​are given in US dollars ( purchasing power parity ).

year 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
(purchasing power parity)
4.63 billion 6.87 billion 8.99 billion 11.24 billion 14.94 billion 21.08 billion 22.26 billion 23.98 billion 25.35 billion 26.16 billion 27.61 billion 28.71 billion 30.55 billion 32.15 billion 34.07 billion 36.67 billion 39.64 billion 43.24 billion
GDP per capita
(purchasing power parity)
816 1,049 1,184 1,285 1,512 1,873 1.926 2,020 2,077 2,084 2.138 2.158 2,229 2,277 2,342 2,448 2,572 2,726
GDP growth
−0.8% 3.3% −0.7% 5.4% 3.2% 5.6% 2.5% 5.0% 3.7% 2.4% 4.3% 1.9% 4.5% 3.6% 4.1% 6.5% 6.7% 7.2%
(in percent)
8.8% 13.0% 0.3% 8.1% 0.8% 1.7% 2.1% 5.9% 6.3% −2.2% 1.2% 3.4% 1.4% 0.7% −1.1% 0.1% 0.9% 1.4%
Public debt
(as a percentage of GDP)
... ... ... ... 74% 46% 22% 23% 24% 34% 36% 41% 43% 47% 54% 57% 60% 61%


In Senegal, 78 percent of the workforce work in the agricultural sector, which, however, accounts for less than 20 percent of GDP (60 percent now come from the service sector, for example tourism). At the same time, the country has one of the highest urbanization rates in Africa at 47 percent .

Due to the largely semi-arid climate , only 16 percent of the land area can be used for agricultural cultivation, only in the alluvial plain of the Senegal lowlands and in the wetlands of the Niayes along the Grande-Côte , the northern coastal strip, there is irrigated agriculture. The Ferlo , the extensive arid savannah landscape that rises south of the Senegal lowlands, mainly only allows semi-nomadic cattle breeding. The most important agricultural foreign exchange earners are peanuts and cotton : Senegal was one of the largest peanut producers in the world, although the trend has been sharply decreasing since the 1970s. The usable area for growing peanuts in the so-called peanut basin has halved since then. Arable farming is concentrated in the rainier south of the country around Sine-Saloum and Casamance . However, agriculture cannot meet its own requirements for basic foodstuffs. Therefore, large quantities (especially rice and wheat) are imported, which leads to a corresponding consumption of foreign currency. The Compagnie Sucrière Sénégalaise has developed a sizeable agro-industrial complex in and around Richard Toll and is the market leader in West Africa's sugar industry.

The combined effects of periods of drought and soil degradation due to increasing land use (including overgrazing and deforestation ) impair the ecological balance across the country on the edge of the Sahel zone . Senegal is therefore taking part in counter-initiatives such as Africa's Green Wall in the Sahel , with modest success until 2017 .

According to the Weltfriedensdienst eV , “the fertility and water retention capacity of the soil are low, erosion is widespread, biodiversity is decreasing, while pest infestation is increasing. Traditional farming has clearly reached its limits. The promotion of monocultures and the intensive use of pesticides and artificial fertilizers in the past are also responsible. The situation is exacerbated by the extensive termination of state advice. "


A Senegalese fisherman prepares to smoke fish

The fishery is now the main industry since the coastal waters of Senegal have rich fishing grounds. The Senegalese small-scale fishermen can adequately supply the local and regional markets. However, the fishing rights for deep-sea fishing have been sold to Japan and South Korea . Overall, fishing is Senegal's most important export today (28.5 percent) and has replaced the previously dominant peanut cultivation.

Industry and mining

Senegal has a relatively well developed manufacturing industry (but only in the big cities), but the industrial capital is in foreign hands. Important industries are food (oil, fish, sugar), chemical industry and textile processing.

Phosphate and gold are to be mentioned as mineral resources , as well as iron ore and petroleum. An agreement signed in February 2007 between ArcelorMittal and Senegal to develop the iron ore deposits of Falémé in the Saraya department in the south-east of the country on the Falémé River has failed.


In Senegal, the state-owned Senelec has a monopoly on the generation, distribution and billing of electrical energy. In 2016, the company had sales of 2.875 billion kilowatt hours of electrical energy (2875 GWh). Almost 75 percent of the electricity came from oil-fired thermal power plants . In 2017, the organization pour la mise en valeur du fleuve Gambie (OMVG) launched the project to network the power grids of the four member states Senegal, Gambia, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau as well as the construction of a hydropower plant on the Gambia River in the Kédougou region .

State budget

The state budget in 2016 comprised expenditure of the equivalent of 4.4 billion US dollars , which was offset by income of the equivalent of 3.8 billion US dollars. This results in a budget deficit of around 4% of GDP .
The national debt in 2016 was $ 8.5 billion, or 57.4% of GDP.

In 2006, the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was as follows:


In 2009, 3.5% of the gross domestic product of Senegal was generated with the transport of people or goods. The road dominates this branch of the economy: 99% of all long-distance passenger transport and 95% of the transport volume are carried out on the road. Three quarters of all public investments in infrastructure are used for road transport. It provides work for around 300,000 people, mostly in informal employment.

In the Logistics Performance Index , which is compiled by the World Bank and measures the quality of the infrastructure, Senegal was ranked 141st out of 160 countries in 2018.

Road traffic

As of 2008, Senegal's road network has a total length of 14,825 km, of classified roads, that is 23.1 km per 1000 km². Compared to 1992, when the country had 14,280 km, it has hardly grown. 4806 km are paved, especially in the population centers of the west, and 10,019 km are unpaved. Even 15% or 507 km of the highest road category, the national roads, are unpaved. For 2008 it was stated that less than 40% of the roads were in good condition. This is an improvement over 2001 when only 30% were in good shape.

As before, 30% of the rural population is more than 5 km away from a motorable road, especially in the east of the country, where there are only 10–20 km of roads for every 1000 km². In recent years, the government has consistently failed to achieve its goal of making traffic and transportation accessible to the rural population and thus offering them a way out of poverty.

In 2008, 293,800 vehicles were registered in Senegal, three quarters of them in Dakar, two thirds were cars, 80% came into the country as used cars and 60% were equipped with diesel engines. The average age of the vehicles was 10.8 years, which indicates that many vehicles are still very old, but represents an improvement compared to 2001. This is due to the ban on importing vehicles older than five years. In 2008, 237 people were killed in accidents, which is a remarkably high figure for a country with so little motorization.

A car rapidly

State-organized public transport is only available in the capital Dakar, where bus traffic has been handled by Dakar Dem Dikk since 2000 . This company, which is 70% owned by the state, is struggling with chronic financial problems due to the old age of its vehicle fleet and the associated high maintenance costs. Otherwise, public transport is handled by a large number of small companies that operate so-called Cars rapides , Ndiaga Ndiaye or shared taxis (sept-places, taxi-brousse).

The state of Gambia , whose territory extends deep into Senegal, poses a challenge for the traffic connection of the southern part of the country . All transports from or to Casamance either have to take a long detour via Tambacounda in the east or two border crossings on the Transgambienne and take a ferry ride across the Gambia River . The Senegambia Bridge , which was built next to the ferry terminals and is subject to tolls, has been available since January 2019 . The costs and time involved in transit traffic through Gambia have repeatedly been a source of annoyance.

Senegal's trunk road network is involved in three transcontinental road construction projects, the Trans-African Highways

Rail transport

Dakar Central Station


The railway network in Senegal is 906 km long on paper. These include a 70 km long double-track line between Dakar and Thiès , the 574 km long line from Thiès to Kidira , the 193 km long line from Thiès to Saint-Louis and three smaller branch lines. The country's first railroad was opened between Dakar and Saint-Louis back in 1885, but the network has not been expanded since 1968 and long sections have not been renewed since it was commissioned. In reality, traffic to Saint-Louis has been suspended since 1999, only one track is available between Dakar and Thiès.

Rescue attempts

The line from Dakar to Bamako , which was operated by the Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer du Sénégal until 2003 and is 1287 km long, has been operated since its privatization by the Transrail company, which is available for a price of 24 million euros and a commitment to invest of 50 million euros has secured the concession for 25 years. Meanwhile, Transrail is in serious financial difficulties and the company is struggling to rescue it.


Domestic freight transport by rail has fallen by two thirds since privatization, while the volume transported by rail to and from Mali has remained almost the same and, at 310,000 t per year, makes up around half of the volume exchanged with the neighboring country.

With the petit train de banlieue, there is a rail-bound suburban service in Dakar, which was able to transport 4.9 million passengers in 2009, but less than one percent of the total passenger volume in the capital.

The last serious railway accident occurred on December 31, 1969 near Thiès when a passenger train and a freight train collided. More than 20 people died.

air traffic

Regular air traffic in Senegal began at the time of French West Africa through the establishment of an air mail service from France via West Africa to South America by the Compagnie générale aéropostale , which had set up the Saint-Louis hydro base for stopovers in Senegal since the late 1920s . It was the starting point for the legendary aviation pioneer Jean Mermoz on May 12, 1930, on the first flight over the South Atlantic to Natal (Brazil) with the seaplane Comte de la Vaulx and with 130 kg of mail on board. Another base for the South Atlantic traffic at that time was the airfield Ouakam near Dakar, where Air France, Lufthansa, Ala Litoria, Imperial Airways and British Airways made regular stopovers as early as 1937. Since this base was no longer able to cope with the increasing air traffic, the Dakar-Yoff airport was put into operation in 1944 , which served as Senegal's international airport until 2017, most recently under the name Aéroport international Léopold-Sédar-Senghor , a few kilometers northwest of the capital Dakar .

The new, modern Dakar-Blaise Diagne Airport is located around 45 km east of Dakar in the Diass municipality and has been in operation since December 2017. In Saint Louis, Cap Skirring and Ziguinchor there are airfields that meet international standards, and numerous other cities have their own runways. In 2009, Senegal counted 1.6 million air passengers, which is a significant decrease compared to 2007 and 2008, when there were 1.9 million passengers. This is mainly attributed to the bankruptcy of the national airline Air Sénégal International , which had to cease its flight operations in 2009. Sénégal Airlines started operating in January 2011 . The new Senegalese airline flew to various destinations in Africa with four medium-sized aircraft. In 2018, Air Sénégal replaced the flight operations of Sénégal Airlines, which had been suspended in 2016 . Aviation is not predicted to develop significantly. The main reason is considered to be the lack of profitability that can be expected given the small size of the country and the low average income.


Aline Sitoé Diatta ferry

Senegal conducts 95% of its total foreign trade by sea. By far the most important port is the Port Autonome de Dakar . In 2009 it achieved an envelope of 9.5 million tons, of which 7.4 million were unloaded and 2.1 million tons were loaded. 700,000 t were transported in transit through Senegal to another West African country, of which 600,000 t were from and to Mali. Further ports are located in Kaolack and Ziguinchor. The latter achieved a throughput of 85,000 t in 2009 and was recently refurbished for around 6 million euros. The ferry traffic between Dakar and Ziguinchor is of particular importance for the connection of Casamance to the rest of the country. After the sinking of the ferry Le Joola in 2002, since March 2008 the company has owned a ferry called Aline Sitoe Diatta , which was procured from Germany for € 25 million and carried 86,000 passengers in 2009.


National symbols

The three pan-African colors are arranged along the lines of the tricolor . The five-pointed star symbolizes freedom and progress. The flag has existed since 1960. For more information about the national coat of arms, see the article Coat of arms of Senegal .

The national anthem with the text by Léopold Sédar Senghor reads: Pincez Tous vos Koras, Frappez les Balafons . In German: "All of you pluck your Koras , hit the marimbas , the red lion roared ..."

Press, radio and communication

As early as 1856, the newspaper Moniteur du Sénégal et dépendances (meaning: Senegalese news from the districts) with its headquarters in St. Louis began its work. However, most of the Senegalese press did not emerge until the 20th century during the colonial era. A mission station, founded primarily by Protestant mission stations in the early 20th century, spread the biblical message. Criticism of it was not tolerated.

After the First World War, parallel to the establishment of the trade unions, the first magazines for Senegalese workers developed, for example Voice of Workers of Senegal (founded in 1938). It was only after the Second World War that the continent had access to modern, up-to-date information media. In the 1950s, the magazine Présence africaine , founded by Alioune Diop in 1947, developed the idea of ​​pan-African freedom of information.

In 1959 the Senegalese press agency Agence de presse senegalaise (APS) was founded. It is an autonomous body and has a monopoly on the dissemination of information in Senegal through other news agencies worldwide. In the world ranking of press freedom, compiled by Reporters Without Borders , Senegal was ranked 86th in 2008 (out of a total of 173 countries), which is an above-average ranking in a comparison of all West African countries.

The main current press organs are
  • Daily newspapers: Le Soleil (The Sun) founded in 1970 as a government- affiliated newspaper, Sud Quotidien , an independent newspaper, the tabloid Wal Fadjri or the high-turnover neutral newspaper l'Observateur and others
  • A special feature of the Senegalese press is the existence of satirical magazines such as Le Cafard libéré (The liberated cockroach), founded with an explicit reference to a French magazine, Le Canard enchainé (The tied duck) or Le Politicien (The politician)
  • There are various sports and women's and wellness magazines ( Amina , magazine for African and Caribbean women) and, with increasing popularity, children's and youth magazines ( Planète Enfants or Planète Jeunes )
  • The pan-African magazines include the weekly Jeune Afrique , founded in 1960 and popular especially among the upper class, as well as titles from the international French press such as Le Monde , Le Figaro , International Herald Tribune and the English-language The Guardian
  • In Senegal, too, as elsewhere, the press is increasingly subject to competition from other media. B. the online platforms Rewmi , Nettali or Politicosn et Leral

For economic reasons and because of its ease of use, the radio is the only real mass medium for the broad majority of the population in Senegal. Although the media in Senegal has a relatively strong position compared to other African countries, the dependence on energy occasionally leads to social unrest.

  • Two radio programs from the public broadcaster Radio-Télévision sénégalaise ( RTS ) can be received almost everywhere (11 to 14 stations) via VHF. The national channel Chaîne Nationale and 11 regional VHF stations (with a national cover program ) offer programs in the different languages ​​of their broadcasting area. In addition, there is the Radio Sénégal International program , which can also only be received via satellite ( Eutelsat 7 degrees East) in the national languages ​​and whose French programs are aimed at the domestic population as well as an international audience. Short and medium wave transmitters were switched off.
  • There are numerous popular programs in the regionally spoken languages. Some of them can be received worldwide via the Internet .
  • Radio stations represented internationally in Senegal are Radio Africa No. 1 from Gabon or Radio France Internationale .

Television has existed in Senegal since 1963. It was founded with the help of UNESCO, but has only been broadcast on a regular basis since 1965. Numerous private international channels are available via satellite, although the majority of the population is excluded for cost reasons. Television is popular, but it often has to be used collectively by several households.

  • For a long time, the public broadcaster RTS offered the only receivable television program. He is also u. a. Receivable via Eutelsat. There is no longer any terrestrial reception.
  • 2sTV is a national private full television program . There are also some special interest programs and pay TV .
Internet and telecommunications

According to information from les Systèmes d'Information, les Réseaux et les Inforoutes au Sénégal (Observatory for Information Systems, Networks and Information Transmission in Senegal, OSIRIS), there were 650,000 internet users and 34,907 subscriber lines in September 2007, including 33,584 with an ADSL connection. Estimates currently assume 800 access points to the Internet for Senegal. In April 2007, 1921 domains were registered under the top level domain ".Sn", but only 540 pages were actually online. In 2016, 23.4% of the population used the internet.

In a country where friendliness and verbal negotiation are at the heart of family and social life, mobile telephony has quickly gained market share. The two operators who share the Senegalese market are currently Sonatel (whose services have been marketed under the Orange brand since 2006 ) and Tigo . Together they had 4,122,867 registered users in December 2007. At the same time, 269,088 landline calls were counted on the same day, plus calls from the 17,000 public telephones throughout the area.


The Senegalese writer and filmmaker Ousmane Sembène is considered the "father" of African film.

Djibril Diop Mambéty was also one of the most important directors of African cinema .

Traditional life

Since the Muslims, especially the Murids , make up the majority of the population, the Islamic holidays are of particular importance. One of the most important of them is the Maouloud , the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed, which - according to the Christian era - took place in the year 570. In Senegal, for example, there are pilgrimages to certain places, for example to Tivaouane in the north-east of the country or to Kaolack for 150 years , and the President sometimes takes part.

The cultural landscapes of the Bassari , Fula and Bedik are located in three inaccessible mountainous regions in the Kédougou region in southeast Senegal . They were included in the UNESCO World Heritage List as Bassari Land because there the land use and settlement patterns, the traditional architecture, the sacred forests and sanctuaries together with the ancestral agricultural and social practices, rituals, beliefs and the traditional formation of the ethnic groups contributed to it have to permanently secure human settlement through the respectful and sustainable handling of scarce resources. The inhabitants have preserved original agricultural, social, ritual and spiritual customs that are sustainably adapted to the given environmental conditions.


The Orchester Baobab 2008 in New York

For all peoples of Senegal, music, combined with dance and storytelling, is the most important form of artistic expression. Traditionally, music is made by the griots , using percussion and string instruments. The main instruments are the sounds Xalam , Riti or the Kora , which actually comes from the neighboring Mali. The drum tama , shaped like an hourglass and tucked under the arm, is the most common percussion instrument. All events in public or private life are traditionally accompanied by music, be it solo chants, chants with orchestral accompaniment or purely instrumental performances.

The 20th century brought significant developments to Senegalese music. In the 1930s, jazz music came to the country through the radio and was immediately adopted by the urban population as a counter-concept to French colonial culture. The most important artist of this time was Aminata Fall , the singer of Star Jazz . Until the 1970s, the music scene was dominated by Afro-Cuban jazz, which was combined with Senegalese and other African elements, including the Baobab Orchestra . In the 1980s the Mbalax , in which the Senegalese percussion element dominates the jazz, became popular. The main sizes of the Mbalax are Youssou N'Dour , Ismaël Lô , Omar Pene and Baaba Maal . Originally described as too vulgar, it was not allowed to be played on Senegalese radio before 1988; this only changed in 1988. Today Mbalax is omnipresent in media and advertising.

In the late 1980s, rap and hip-hop began to take hold in Senegal. The resulting Senerap became popular among those young people in the country who were excluded from the consumerism of the Mbalax for economic reasons. At the same time, the Senegalese rap based on the French model is very political, directly addresses points of social conflict and deliberately snubs the older, conservative and Islamic generation. The first successful Senegalese rap group was Positive Black Soul , today Akon is the most important rapper in the country.

to eat and drink

Cooking in Senegal 20050824-b.jpg

The traditional staple foods of the Senegalese people are millet and sorghum , which are mainly eaten as a porridge, as well as legumes and cow's milk. Today these are mainly consumed in the countryside. Rice is preferred in the cities. Although rice has been grown in Casamance for a long time and plays a major cultural role there, the production is nowhere near enough to meet the country's needs. The majority of consumption must therefore be covered by imports; this also applies to wheat, which is needed for the popular baguettes adopted by the French.

Numerous types of vegetables such as onions, peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, yams and aubergines are available all year round thanks to irrigated agriculture; Fruits such as melons, mangos or citrus fruits are only available at certain times of the year and come mainly from the Niayes , the relatively humid lowlands between the dunes. The main source of protein is fish that are fresh, dried inland and processed along the coast. Meat is usually only consumed on holidays.

The warm meals are traditionally served in a large pot around which the family members sit on the floor. People eat with their fingers or, increasingly, with a spoon. In large families, women and children eat separately from men.

Thieboudienne , a dish made from rice cooked in tomato sauce, braised vegetables and fish , takes its status as the national dish. Yassa is meat or fish that is marinated, fried and served with rice. Maafe is a dish in which meat and vegetables are braised in peanut sauce and served with rice.

The most famous drinks in Senegal are bissap and gingembre , which are made from hibiscus flowers and ginger, respectively. They are consumed sweet and cold. Ataya is the Senegalese tea, which is usually drunk from small glasses in a long ceremony. Although Senegal is a Muslim dominated country, beer is brewed in Senegal.


Yékini 2006, Roi des arènes 2004–2012

Two sports dominate in Senegal, namely Senegambian wrestling, known as Lutte sénégalaise, and football . In Senegal, wrestling is a martial art that has its roots in armed conflicts as well as in traditional African religions. It has therefore only survived in those peoples who were not Islamized or who were Islamized at a late stage, especially among the Diola , Serer and Lébou . In a wrestling match, which traditionally takes place on the village square and is called Mbapat , not only the fighters themselves, but also the guardian spirits of all those involved compete against each other. A Mbapat is therefore preceded by lengthy ritual acts and sacrifices. The fight itself is short; if you are the first to touch the ground with a body part other than your hand or foot, you leave the field as a loser. Wrestling became popular in the cities from 1920 onwards. It was declared a national sport in 1959 and has since gained a foothold in the media and politics. Especially the stars in the heavyweight division with battle names like Tyson, Bombardier or Yékini have large following and are very present in the gossip press.

Senegalese fans at the 2018 World Cup in Russia

Senegalese football has an official league, which on the one hand suffers from poor infrastructure and underpaid payments, but on the other hand serves as a first-class stepping stone to European clubs for local talent; one of the stars who went this way is El Hadji Diouf . There are also numerous nawetaan clubs that originally came into being in communities of migrant workers and so came to the cities. They are financed almost exclusively from local sources and play a very important role in the immigrant districts. The Senegalese national soccer team achieved the greatest success in their history at the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan . They surprisingly won the first group game against the French team and later reached the quarter-finals; Experts' expectations were exceeded by far. The Senegal team achieved their highest ranking in the FIFA world rankings in June 2004 with 26th place and the lowest in December 1998 with 95th place (as of May 2010).

Sports that were introduced to Senegal by the French include cycling , athletics , gymnastics , basketball and swimming in addition to football . Muslim leaders initially resisted attempts to establish a European sports culture in Senegal. In 1930 sport was also allowed for women. The earliest international success in the sporting field was achieved in 1922 by the Senegalese boxer Battling Siki , who became the first African boxing world champion in the fight against the Frenchman Georges Carpentier . The Senegalese javelin thrower Samba Ciré took part for France in the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris . The 200-meter runner Abdoulaye Seye also won a bronze medal for France at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome . In the years after independence, a National Olympic Committee was established and Senegalese athletes regularly participated in the Summer Olympics and sometimes the Winter Games. The first Olympic medal for Senegal was won by the 400-meter hurdler Amadou Dia Ba when he finished second in 1988 in Seoul . At the 2001 World Championships in Athletics won Amy Thiam Mbacké the 400 Meters .


  • Mamadou Diouf: Une histoire du Sénégal. Le modèle islamo-wolof et ses périphéries. Maisonneuve & Larose, Paris 2001, ISBN 2-7068-1503-5 .
  • Sheldon Gellar: Democracy in Senegal. Tocquevillian analytics in Africa. Palgrave Macmillan, New York 2005, ISBN 1-4039-7027-0 .
  • Werner Glinga: Literature in Senegal. History, Myth and Social Ideal in Oral and Written Literature. Reimer, Berlin 1990, ISBN 3-496-00460-6 (habilitation thesis, University of Bayreuth 1987, 632 pages, 24 cm).
  • Roman Loimeier: Secular State and Islamic Society - the Relationship between the State, Sufi Brotherhoods and Islamic Reform Movement in Senegal in the 20th Century. Lit, Münster / Hamburg 2001, ISBN 978-3-8258-5039-5 .
  • Brigitte Reinwald : The wealth of women. Life and work of the female population in Siin / Senegal under the influence of French colonization (= Studies on African History, Volume 9), LIT, Münster 1995, ISBN 3-89473-778-6 (Dissertation, Universität Hamburg 1994, 417, 121 Sides, 21 cm).
  • Paulin Soumanou Vieyra : Le cinéma au Sénegal. L'Harmattan, Paris 1983, ISBN 2-85802-280-1 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Senegal  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Senegal  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Senegal  - geographical and historical maps
Wikivoyage: Senegal  - Travel Guide

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Coordinates: 14 °  N , 14 °  W