National Anthem: “Le Lion Rouge”, written by Léopold Sédar Senghor, music by Herbert Pepper.
Official Country name: Senegal (/ˌsɛnɪˈɡɔːl, -ˈɡɑːl/)
Government Type: Unitary Presidential Republic
- President: Macky Sall
- President of the National Assembly: Moustapha Niassen
- Chief Justice: Ismalia Madior Fall
Total: 196,712 km2 (75,951 sq mi) (86th)
Water: 2.1 (%)
Wolof (41.3%), Fula (17.8%), Serer (15.7%), Mandinka (14.0%), Jola (3.7%), Soninke (1.1%), Other (7.4%)
The climate is tropical, semi-arid in nature. There is a long dry season, from October to June, in the northern part of the country and a rainy season, which is linked to the African monsoon, from November till May, in the southern part. The north of Senegal has a Sahel climate, causing rainfalls to be less abundant.
Dakar, Pikine, Touba, Thiès, Thiès Nones, Saint-Louis, Kaolac, Ziguinchor, Tiébo, Tambacounda, Mbaké, Louga.
Official and National Language
The official language is French. Senegal also boasts six additional national languages: Wolof which is the most widespread, Mandinka, Pular, Serer, Diola and Soninke.
Wolof is the most widely spoken language. French is used by the administration but understood only by 15-20 % of the population.
Other spoken languages include Hassaniya Arabic, Balanta-Ganja, Mandjak, Noon, Casamance Creole, Mandjak, Mankanya, Fulah.
Sunni Islam (95%)
Christianity (4%), Animism (1%).
Education literacy rate
15-24 years: 69,48% (total), 63,50 % (female), 75,58% (male)
15 years and older: 51,9 % (total), 39,8 % (female), 64,81% (male)
65 years and older: 25,9 % (total) 53.07 (male) 26.76 (female)
43.6 % (deaths per 1,000 live births) in 2018.
In 2018, child mortality rate for Senegal was 43,6% deaths per 1,000 live births. Child mortality rate in Senegal has been on a gradual decrease, from 292.2 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1969 to 43.6 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2018.
Currency: West African CFA Franc, code: XOF
International telephone area code
HDI (2018) Increase 0.514 · 166th
(source: “Human Development Report 2019”; United Nations Development Programme. 10 December 2019. Retrieved 10 December 2019).
During the 8th century, Senegal was part of the Ghana Empire.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, a part of Senegal, the area between the Senegal River and the territory where today’s capital is, was part of the Jolof Empire. In the 16th century, many European countries were interested in controlling the market area where slaves, bound for the Americas, could be collected. Firstly, the Portuguese traders and then the British, French and Dutch jostled for control over most of the strategic points. Since 1659, Senegal’s predominantly French influence helped construct one of its cities, Saint-Louis, and subsequently turned Dakar into the country’s administrative centre in the 19th century.
The 20th of June, 1960, Senegal was declared independent from France and part of the Mali Federation. Two months later, Senegal withdrew from the federation and became an independent republic, under the presidency of Léopold Sédar Seghor, a socialist and a poet of international stature. At the end of 1980, Seghor voluntarily stepped down and was replaced by Abdou Diouf, who was faced with the mounting crises.
Geography: To the north, Senegal borders Mauritania, along the Senegal river; to the east, Mali; to the south, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, where the natural border is the Casamance River; and the North Atlantic Ocean to the west. The Cape Verde (Cap Vert) Peninsula is the westernmost point of the African continent. The Gambia penetrates more than 320 km into Senegal, from the Atlantic Coast to the center of Senegal, along the Gambia River, which separates Senegal’s territory into two parts.
Politics and government
The parliament of Senegal, The National Assembly, is a unicameral entity, with most members being directly elected and in charge for a five-year term. Senegal is a multiparty presidential republic. The three powers- judicial, legislative and executive – are separated. The president is the head of the State and of the Government. He is directly elected by adult suffrage and could stay in charge for a seven-year term, with a two-term limit. The President appoints the Ministers directly.
The Senegalese economy is mostly based on agriculture, with the most important crops being peanuts, sugarcane and cotton (export earnings), fishing (12.3% of export earnings), telecom services and tourism. The Senegalese economy is the second economy of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) and fourth of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
After his election in March 2012, President Macky Sall has been trying to implement reforms in hopes of leading Senegal towards an economic emergence by 2035. The Senegal Emergent Plan (PSE) details a three step model aimed at developing the country.
Senegal’s economic growth has been among the highest in Africa, between 2014 and 2018, remaining above 6% annually. However, this growth has consistently been contrasted by the strong demographic growth and the derived food shortages.
This year, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed Senegal’s economic development. Growth has significantly slowed to an estimated 1.3% percent, with tourism, transport and the exports market being exceptionally hard hit.
The main body of works in Senegalese literature is written in French. There are also some books written in Arabic or in native languages like Wolof, Pulaar, Mandinka, Diola, Soninke and Serer. Originally, literature was transmitted in the form of oral tradition, as native languages lacked written codification. Literature, therefore, took the form of Griot chants: Griot was the community storyteller who could concurrently be a singer, poet and musician. Being the repository of the oral tradition, he frequently was also an important guide and advisor for the royals.
Post-colonial Senegalese writers are often engaged in the defense of the “national literature” and eager to show the pride they take in their roots. This contemporary form of literature investigates the relation between language and identity, while trying to find the intimate sense of pride in African culture. The most important Senegalese novelists of this period are Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Boubacar Boris Diop and Ousmane Sembene.
The most important Senegalese poet, who has earned international acclaim, is the president and philosopher Léopold Sédar Senghor. Other important poets include Birago Diop, Cheik Aliou Ndao and Alioune Badara Bèye.
In recent years, the female writers who have contributed to Senegalese literature are Mariama Bâ, Fatou Diome, Ndeye Fatou Kane, Aminata Sow Fall, Fatou Sow. In their literary works, they address the issues of polygamy and feminism.
Mass media in Senegal are varied and include multiple television channels, private radio stations, and over fifteen newspapers.
The most important newspapers are limited to Dakar and Thies and they are written in French or Arabic. The daily newspapers are Le Soleil, Sud Quotidien, WalFadjiri, Le Quotidien, Le Matin, Le Populaire, Il Est Midi.
Music and dance are very important in Senegalese culture, markets, roads or houses. Any place or moment is a great opportunity to make music. It can be a form of entertainment or a medium to communicate social claims. Traditional Senegalese music is polyphonic and very rhythmic. Percussion instruments are the ones that are predominantly used in compositions, in addition to some traditional string and woodwind instruments.
Gomis, Alain, director. Félicité. Jour2Fête, 2017.
Dia, Mamadou, director. Samedi Cinema. USA, 2016.
Thiaw, Rama, director.The Revolution Won’t Be Televised. Senegal, 2016.
Wùlu. Directed by Daouda Coulibaly, performance by Ibrahim Koma and Inna Modja, Senegal, 2016.
Sembene! Directed by Samba Gadjigo and Jason Silverman, Senegal, 2015.
1st January: New Year’s Day
4th April: Independence Day
1st May: Labour Day
Easter Monday, this year the 13th April.
21st May: Ascension Day.
1st June: Whit Monday.
15th August: Assumption of Mary Day.
1st November: All Saints’ Day.
25th December: Christmas Day.
24th May: Eid al-Fitr, End of the month of Ramadan.
31th July: Eid al-Adha is referred to as “Tabaski Festival” in Senegal, commemorating the”Sacrifice Feast”, the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son.
29th August: Ashura, commemorating the death of the grandson of Muhammad
5th October: Magal de Touba, is a pilgrimage to the city of Touba. The event commemorates the exile of the Sufi religious leader Ahmadou Bamba from Senegal to Gabon.
29th October: Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday.
Mafé, or Maafe: West African meat in peanut sauce;
Poulet Yassa: Senegalese chicken with onions and lemon;
Akkra: Senegalese black-eyed pea fritters;
Ceebu Jen: Senegalese fish with rice and vegetables.
The official Senegalese Education System is based on its French counterpart. The Senegalese constitution added two new articles in January 2001 (art.21 and 22) which grant all children the right and access to public education. However, the limited resources and the low demand have made Islamic education more prevalent in many areas. For demographic reasons, multi-grade teaching is especially diffused in the sub-Saharan territory and the outcomes of this kind of education are poor, with less than half of the students passing the school year.
Structure of Senegal school system
Age 3 – 5
Length: 3 years (not compulsory)
Elementary Education (compulsory)
Age: 7 – 12 or (6-11 for children having access to preschool)
Length: 5 years
Length: 4 years
These schools, public or registered private middle schools, are concentrated in urban areas of Dakar, Thiès and Zinguinchor.
Senegalese secondary education has two different paths: a general one (adhering to the French “llycée” standard) and a technical one (where students receive more practical skills). These secondary study programs last three years and are officially approved by the French baccalaureate. The technical secondary education program culminates in the passing of the BEP (brevet d’études professionnelles) and of the BT (brevet de technicien).
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
TVET programmes are offered at the secondary level and are taught at technical high schools (lycée technique) and in vocational education and training centres.
TVET system is organized as follows:
- Secondary technical education: a three year program which prepares students for the job market or for TVET at the tertiary education level.
- Secondary vocational education: the short cycle only lasts two years while the long cycle, three years. The program prepares graduates for work or for tertiary vocational education.
TVET at high education level: TVET is taught at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The most important institutions for higher education and technical and vocational training are the High School of Technical and Vocational Education (l’Ecole Normale Supérieure d’Enseignement Technique et Professionnel) and the Higher Polytechnic School (l’Ecole Supérieur Polytechnique) of Dakar.
Senegal has private and public universities. The public universities are only five and they are located in the most important cities. These schools are Cheikh Anta Diop University of Dakar, Gaston Berger University of Saint-Louis, Thiès University, Zinguinchor University and Alioune Diop University of Bambey.
Unfortunately, Senegalese universities do not have a good international reputation.