Senegal is a country in West Africa.
The official name of the country is the Republic of Senegal.
It is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal also borders The Gambia, a country occupying a narrow sliver of land along the banks of the Gambia River, which separates Senegal’s southern region of Casamance from the rest of the country.
The official language is French.
As of 1 January 2017, the population of Senegal was estimated to be 15,837,555 people.
It is the 86th largest country in the world in terms of land area with 196,712 square kilometers (75,951 square miles).
Dakar is the capital and largest city of Senegal. It is located on the Cap-Vert peninsula on the Atlantic coast and is the westernmost city in the Old World as well as on the African mainland.
Much of Senegal is covered in rolling, sandy plains courtesy of the western Sahel – a transition zone between the Sahara desert and Sudanian Savannas.
Foothills rise from the Sahel in the southeastern part of the country, and this is where the highest point of Senegal is found: an unnamed elevation southwest of Kedougou at 648 meters (2,126 feet).
Senegal has 531 kilometers (330 miles) of coastline.
The best beaches in Senegal are found in Cap Skirring and Dakar. Cap Skirring is located in southern Senegal in the Casamance region of the country. The beaches in Cap Skirring are vast and undeveloped even during high tourist season. Dakar has many beaches that are very nice and are heavily populated every day by local people and tourists.
The network of protected areas in Senegal covers about 25% of the national territory. It is made up of 6 national park, plus other types of protected areas.
The Niokolo-Koba National Park is a natural protected area in south eastern Senegal. Established as a reserve in 1925, Niokolo-Koba was declared a Senegalese national park on 1 January 1954. Expanded in 1969, it was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 1981 as a UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve.
The Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary lies on the southeast bank of the Senegal River. It provides a range of wetland habitats which prove very popular with migrating birds, many of which have just crossed the Sahara. Of almost 400 species of birds, the most visible are pelicans and flamingos. A wide range of wildlife also inhabits the park, which is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981.
Saloum Delta or Sine-Saloum Delta is a river delta in Senegal at the mouth of the Saloum River where it flows into the North Atlantic Ocean. The delta covers 180,000 hectares (444,800 acres). It extends 72.5 kilometers (45 miles) along the coastline and 35 kilometers (22 miles) inland. In 2011 the delta was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The site contains “brackish channels encompassing over 200 islands and islets, mangrove forest, an Atlantic marine environment, and dry forest.”
Senegal has 7 UNESCO world heritage sites.
The island of Gorée lies off the coast of Senegal, opposite Dakar. From the 15th to the 19th century, it was the largest slave-trading centre on the African coast. Ruled in succession by the Portuguese, Dutch, English and French, its architecture is characterized by the contrast between the grim slave-quarters and the elegant houses of the slave traders. Today it continues to serve as a reminder of human exploitation and as a sanctuary for reconciliation. The island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, since September 1978.
Founded as a French colonial settlement in the 17th century, Saint-Louis was urbanised in the mid-19th century. It was the capital of Senegal from 1872 to 1957 and played an important cultural and economic role in the whole of West Africa. The location of the town on an island at the mouth of the Senegal River, its regular town plan, the system of quays, and the characteristic colonial architecture give Saint-Louis its distinctive appearance and identity. The city was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
The Stone Circles of Senegambia lie in The Gambia north of Janjanbureh and in central Senegal. The site consists of four large groups of stone circles that represent an extraordinary concentration of over 1,000 monuments in a band 100 km (62 mi) wide along some 350 km (220 mi) of the River Gambia. The four groups, Sine Ngayène, Wanar, Wassu and Kerbatch, cover 93 stone circles and numerous tumuli, burial mounds, some of which have been excavated to reveal material that suggest dates between 3rd century BC and 16th century AD. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Bassari Country and its Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes, located in the southeast of Senegal, is a well-preserved multicultural landscape which emerged from the interaction of human activities and the natural environment. In 2012, the Bassari Country with its Bassari, Fula and Bedik Cultural Landscapes was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
The African Renaissance Monument is a 49 meter (161 feet) tall bronze statue located on top of one of the twin hills known as Collines des Mamelles, outside Dakar. It is the tallest statue in Africa. Built overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in the Ouakam suburb, the statue was designed by the Senegalese architect Pierre Goudiaby after an idea presented by president Abdoulaye Wade and built by Mansudae Overseas Projects, a company from North Korea.
Archaeological findings throughout the area indicate that Senegal was inhabited in prehistoric times and has been continuously occupied by various ethnic groups.
In the mid-15th century, the Portuguese landed on the Senegal coastline, followed by traders representing other countries, including the French.
In 1677, France gained control of what had become a minor departure point in the Atlantic slave trade — the island of Gorée.
French expansion into the interior was opposed by Muslim peoples – they were defeated and the French staked their claim to French West Africa at the Berlin conference of 1884-5.
After World War II, independence movements gained in popularity. Senegal became fully independent in 1964.
With its stable democracy, Senegal remains the only country in West Africa never to have experienced a military coup, where the army seizes power from an elected government.
Predominantly rural, and with limited natural resources, the Economy of Senegal gains most of its foreign exchange from fish, phosphates, groundnuts, tourism, and services.
Senegal is the westernmost country in the mainland of the Old World, or Afro-Eurasia, and owes its name to the Senegal River, which borders it to the east and north. “Senegal” comes from the Wolof “Sunuu Gaal”, which means “Our Boat.”
Senegal is a secular state. Islam is the predominant religion in the country, practiced by approximately 94% of the country’s population; the Christian community, at 5% of the population, are mostly Roman Catholics.
Because Senegal borders the Atlantic Ocean, fish is very important. Chicken, lamb, peas, eggs, and beef are also used in Senegalese cooking, but not pork, due to the nation’s largely Muslim population.
Wrestling is Senegal’s most popular sport and has become a national obsession. Football and basketball are also popular sports in Senegal.
The country hosted the Paris–Dakar rally from 1979 until 2007. The last race was held in 2007, before the 2008 rally was canceled a day before the event due to security concerns in Mauritania.