U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Senegal, July 1996
Bureau of African Affairs

Prepared and released by the Bureau of African Affairs,
Office of West African Affairs

July 1996
Official Name: Republic of Senegal



Area: 196,840 sq. km. (76,000 sq. mi.); about the size of South Dakota.
Cities: Capital--Dakar. Other Cities--Diourbel, Kolda, Kaolack, Louga, 
Saint-Louis, Thies, Tambacounda, Ziguinchor.
Terrain: Flat or rising to foothills.
Climate: Tropical/Sahelian--desert or grasslands in the north, heavier 
vegetation in the south and southeast.


Nationality: Noun and adjective--Senegalese (sing. and pl.).
Population (est. 1995): 8.2 million. Annual growth rate: 3 percent.
Ethnic groups: Wolof 43 percent, Fulani (Peulh) and Toucouleur 23 
percent, Serer 15 percent, Diola, Mandingo, and others 19 percent.
Religions: Muslim 95 percent, Christian 4 percent, traditional 1 
Languages: French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Serer, Diola, Mandingo.
Education: Attendance--primary 58 percent, secondary 16 percent. 
Literacy--38 percent.
Health: Infant mortality rate--67/1,000. Life expectancy--50 yrs.
Work force (4.0 million): Agriculture--70 percent (subsistence or cash 
Wage earners (350,000)--private sector 61 percent, government and 
parapublic 39 percent.


Type: Republic.
Independence: April 4, 1960.
Constitution: March 3, 1963, last amended in 1992.
Branches: Executive--president (chief of state, commander in chief of 
armed forces). Legislative--National Assembly (single chamber with 
120 deputies). Judicial--constitutional court (appointed by the 
from sitting magistrates.)
Administrative subdivisions: 10 regions, 31 departments, 95 
Political parties: Twenty two political parties are registered, the most 
important of which are the Socialist Party (PS), the Democratic Party 
of Senegal (PDS), "AND JEF/PADS", the Democratic 
League/Movement for a Labor Party (LD/MPT), and the Independence 
and Labor Party (PIT) and the People's Liberation Party (PLP).
Suffrage: Universal adult, over 18.
Central government budget (1996): $977 million.
Defense (1996): $81.5 million.
National holiday: April 4, Independence Day.
Flag: Three vertical bands--green, yellow, red, with a green star 
centered in the yellow band.


GDP (1995): $5.1 billion. Real annual growth rate: 4.5 percent.
Per capita GDP (1995): $550.
Natural resources: Fish, peanuts, phosphate, iron ore, gold, titanium.
Agriculture (24 percent of GDP): Products--peanuts, millet, sorghum, 
manioc, rice, cotton.
Industry (22 percent of GDP): Types--fishing, agricultural product 
processing, light manufacturing, mining including energy, oil mining 
and construction: (18 percent of GDP).
Services: 54 percent of GDP;  including government: 65 percent GDP.
Trade (1995): Exports--$967 million (fish products, peanut products, 
phosphate rock). Major markets--France, other European Community, 
West African CFA zone. Imports--$1.2 billion (food, consumer goods, 
petroleum, machinery, transport equipment, petroleum products, 
computer equipment). Major suppliers--France, Nigeria, Cameroon, 
United States.
Exchange rate: Fixed to French franc (FF)-- African Financial 
Community (CFA) franc 100=1 FF; 1995
Average 515 F CFA=US$1.
Economic aid received (1995): $146 million from all sources, $26 
million from the U.S.

Membership in International Organizations

UN and its specialized agencies, Non-Aligned Movement, 
Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Organization of African 
Unity (OAU), West African Economic and Monetary Union 
(WAUMU), Interstate Community of West African States (ECOWAS), 
Senegal River Development Organization (OMVS).


Senegal lies on the bulge of western Africa, bounded by the Atlantic 
Ocean, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. The Gambia 
penetrates more than 320 kilometers (200 mi.) into Senegal.

Well-defined dry and humid seasons result from northeast winter winds 
and southwest summer winds. Dakar's annual rainfall of about 61 
centimeters (24 in.) occurs between June and October when maximum 
temperatures average 27 degrees C (82 degrees F); December to 
February minimum temperatures are about 17 degrees C (63 degrees 
F). Interior temperatures are higher than along the coast, and rainfall 
increases substantially farther south, exceeding 150 centimeters (60 
in.) annually in some areas.


About 70 percent of Senegal's population is rural. In rural areas, 
density varies from about 77 per square kilometer (200 per sq. mi.) in 
the west-central region to 2 per square kilometer (5 per sq. mi.) in the 
arid eastern section. About 50,000 Europeans (mostly French) and 
Lebanese reside in Senegal, mainly in the cities. French is the official 
language but is used regularly only by the literate minority. All 
Senegalese speak an ethnic language, of which Wolof has the largest 


Archaeological findings throughout the area indicate that Senegal was 
inhabited in prehistoric times. Islam established itself in the Senegal 
River valley in the 11th century. (Ninety-five percent of Senegalese 
today are Muslims.)  In the 13th and 14th centuries, the area came 
under the influence of the great Mandingo empires to the east; the Jolof 
Empire of Senegal was also founded during this time.

In January 1959, Senegal and the French Soudan merged to form the 
Mali Federation, which became fully independent on June 20, 1960, as 
a result of the independence and the transfer of power agreement 
signed with France on April 4, 1960. Due to internal political 
difficulties, the Federation broke up on August 20, 1960; Senegal and 
Soudan (renamed the Republic of Mali) each proclaimed separate 
independence. Leopold Sedar Senghor, internationally renowned poet, 
politician, and statesman, was elected Senegal's first president in 
August 1960.

After the breakup of the Mali Federation, President Senghor and Prime 
Minister Mamadou Dia governed together under a parliamentary 
system. In December 1962, their political rivalry led to an attempted 
coup by Prime Minister Dia. Although this was put down without 
bloodshed, Dia was arrested and imprisoned, and Senegal adopted a 
new constitution. Dia was released in 1974.

Since assuming the presidency in 1981, Abdou Diouf has encouraged 
broader political participation, reduced government involvement in the 
economy, and widened Senegal's diplomatic engagements, particularly 
with other developing nations. Despite chronic economic problems, 
tempestuous domestic politics which have on occasion spilled over into 
street violence, border tensions and a violent separatist movement in 
the southern region of the Casamance, Senegal's commitment to 
democracy and human rights appears reasonably strong in its fourth 
decade of independence.


Senegal is a republic with a strong presidency, weak legislature, 
reasonably independent judiciary, and multiple political parties. The 
president is elected by universal adult suffrage to a seven-year term. 
The unicameral National Assembly has 120 members, elected 
separately from the president. The constitutional court, the justices of 
which are named by the president, is the nation's highest tribunal. 
Senegal is divided into 10 administrative regions, each headed by a 
governor appointed by and responsible to the president. However, a 
long anticipated decentralization program will devolve significant 
central government authorities to regional assemblies and regional 
mayors after the November 1996 elections.

Senegal's principal political party is the Socialist Party (name changed 
from Senegalese Progressive Union in 1976 after having joined the 
Socialist International), founded in 1949 by Leopold Senghor and now 
led by President Diouf. The Socialist Party, which has governed 
Senegal since independence in 1960, has advocated a moderate form of 
socialism based on traditional African concepts but increasingly has 
sought to encourage private enterprise, including foreign investment. 
Leopold Senghor was elected Senegal's first president in 1960 and 
served continuously until he stepped down in mid-term in 1980. In 
accordance with the constitution, Prime Minister Abdou Diouf 
succeeded Senghor as president. Diouf was elected to a full five-year 
term in his own right in 1983. The constitution, which previously 
restricted the number of political parties to four, was amended in 1981 
to legitimize previously unrecognized parties. The number of parties 
now stands at 22 of which several participated in the February/May 
1993 presidential and legislative elections. There are 120 seats in the 
National Assembly. The last national elections were held on February 
21 and May 9, 1993. President Diouf was reelected for a 7-year term.

Principal Government Officials

President of the Republic--Abdou Diouf
President of the National Assembly--Cheikh Abdou Khadre
President of the Constitutional Court--Youssoupha Ndiaye


Prime Minister--Habib Thiam
Minister of State Without Portfolio--Abdoulaye Wade
Minister of State for Foreign Affairs--Moustapha Niasse
Minister of State for Presidential Affairs--Ousmane Tanor Dieng
Minister of State for Agriculture--Robert Sanga
Minister of Armed Forces--Cheikh Hamidou Kane
Minister of Interior--Abdourahmane Sow
Minister of Justice--Jacques Bodin
Minister of Economy, Finance and Planning--Papa Ousmane Sakho
Minister of National Education--Andre Sonko
Minister of Equipment, Road transport, and Housing--Landing Sane

Ambassador to the United States--General Mansour Seck
Ambassador to the United Nations--Ibra Deguene Ka

Senegal maintains an embassy in the United States at 2112 Wyoming 
Avenue, NW., Washington, DC  20008  (tel. 202-234-0540), and a 
Mission to the United Nations at 392 Fifth Avenue, 9th floor, New 
York, NY  10018 (tel. 212-517-9030).


Senegal has well-trained and disciplined armed forces consisting of 
about 19,000 personnel in the army, air force, and navy. The 
Senegalese military force receives most of its training, equipment, and 
support from France. The United States, Great Britain and Germany 
also provide support, but on a smaller scale. Military non-interference 
in political affairs has contributed to Senegal's stability since 

Senegal has participated in international and regional peacekeeping 
missions. In 1992 Senegal sent 1500 men to the ECOMOG 
peacekeeping group in Liberia, and in 1991, it sent a contingent to 
participate in Operation Desert Storm. The Senegalese contributed a 
600-member battalion to the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, and also 
dispatched a battalion to the Shaba province of Zaire as part of the 
Inter-African Force assembled to counter dissident attacks against 
Kolwezi in 1978. In August 1981, the Senegalese military was invited 
into The Gambia by President Dawda Kairaba Jawara to put down a 
coup attempt. In August of 1989, the Senegalese-Gambian military 
cooperation, which began with the joint Senegalese-Gambian efforts 
during the 1981 coup attempt, ceased with the dissolution of the 
Senegambian Confederation.


The former capital of French West Africa, Senegal is a semi-arid 
country located on the westernmost point of Africa. Its economy is 
dominated by agriculture, particularly by peanut production. The 
modern sector includes fishing, phosphates, tourism, and chemical 
industries. Senegal's economy is highly vulnerable to declining 
desertification and changes in world commodity prices.

The January 1994 devaluation of the CFA franc was an explicit 
condition set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World 
Bank for resumption of financing for economic adjustment. Senegal's 
adjustment efforts were funded primarily by a stand-by agreement from 
the IMF, which was replaced, in August 1994, by a three-year 
enhanced structural adjustment facility (ESAF) for U.S. $192 million. 
The World Bank also supported Senegal under an economic recovery 
credit, a private sector adjustment and competitiveness credit (PASCO) 
and an agricultural sector adjustment credit (PASA). Senegal also 
benefitted from assistance from other multilateral and bilateral donors, 
including debt rescheduling from the Paris Club and other creditors. At 
the consultative group meeting in Paris in July 1995 (the first 
sponsored by the World Bank since 1987), Senegal received pledges 
for program and project aid for the period of 1995-97 of about U.S. 
$1.5 billion, which completely covered the 1995 financing gap.

Macroeconomic indicators show that Senegal has turned in a 
respectable performance in meeting the targets set under the IMF's 
ESAF program: annual GDP growth has improved from 2.3 percent in 
1994 to reach 4.5 percent in 1995. Inflation has reported to be 8 
percent in 1995 compared to 36 percent in 1994, and the fiscal deficit 
has held to 3.3 percent of GDP.

During 1995, Senegal made some encouraging progress in the 
implementation of structural adjustment policies aimed at creating a 
better regulatory  framework for private sector development. Measures 
implemented to date include:

--the elimination of barriers to free domestic trade (price 
of soap, milk, coffee, soft drinks, cement, tomato paste and fresh 
--the abolition of monopolistic agreements in major industries (cement, 
textiles, wheat flour, tomato paste, packing materials, and 
--the elimination of export subsidies;
--the liberalization of rice and sugar imports;
--the abolition of the requirement for prior government authorization to 
lay off workers during economic downturns;
--the preparation of a list of 18 major public enterprises to be 
during the next three years.

Senegal's economy is principally agricultural, with more than 70 
percent of the labor force engaged in farming. Peanut production 
accounts for half of agricultural output, and food crops, especially 
millet, rice, corn, sorghum, and beans, currently provide about two-
thirds of the country's food needs. Export earnings from peanut oil and 
peanut cake have increased slightly since the January 1994 CFA 
devaluation. The government has invested heavily in the Senegal River 
basin with the aim of moving Senegal closer to food self-sufficiency.

The fishing sector has replaced the groundnut sector as Senegal's 
export leader. Its export earnings reached dollars 274 million in 1995. 
The industrial fishing operations struggle with high costs and 
Senegalese tuna is rapidly losing the French market to more efficient 
Asian competitors.

Phosphate production, the third major foreign exchange earner, has 
been steady at about $33 million. Receipts from tourism, the fourth 
major foreign exchange earner, have picked up since the January 1994 

Senegal has met with limited success in attracting foreign investment to 
hasten economic development. Under the provisions of the 1987 
investment code, the approval process has been shortened. Presently 
there are no restrictions on the transfer or repatriation  of capital 
income earned, or investment financed with convertible foreign 
exchange. Direct U.S. investment in Senegal remains about $38 
million, mainly in petroleum marketing, pharmaceuticals 
manufacturing, chemicals, and banking. Economic assistance, about 
$350 million a year, comes largely from France, the IMF, the World 
Bank, and the United States. Assistance is also provided by Canada, 
Italy, Japan, Germany, and others.

Senegal has relatively good infrastructure. It includes well-developed 
though costly port facilities, a major international airport serving 24 
international airlines, including scheduled service by U.S. firm world 
airways in its Newark, NJ-Johannesburg route, and direct and 
expanding telecommunications links with major world centers.


President Senghor advocated close relations with France and 
negotiation and compromise as the best means of resolving 
international differences. To a large extent, President Diouf has 
on Senghor's policies and philosophies. Senegal has long supported 
functional integration among French-speaking West African states 
through the West African Economic and Monetary Union. Senegal has 
a high profile in many international organizations and was a member of 
the UN Security Council in 1988-89.

President Diouf was chairman of the Organization of African Unity 
(OAU) in 1985-86 and again in 1992-93, host of the Third 
Francophone Conference in 1989 and host of the Organization of the 
Islamic Conference (OIC) summit in 1991. Friendly to the West, 
especially to France and to the U.S., Senegal also is a vigorous 
proponent of more assistance from developed countries to the Third 

Senegal enjoys mostly cordial relations with its  neighbors. However, 
the military junta ruling The Gambia since 1994 adopted economic 
policies that disrupted the flow of goods and people both to and from 
The Gambia and the Ziginchor and Kolda regions of southern Senegal. 
In spite of clear progress on other fronts with Mauritania (border 
security, resource management, economic integration, etc.), there 
remains the problem of approximately 60,000 Afro-Mauritanian 
refugees living in Senegal. To the east, Mali, Guinea, and Senegal 
suffer from cross-border cattle raids by criminal elements from each 
country. Energetic diplomacy--including the creation of bilateral and 
multilateral fora--is ongoing to achieve peaceful resolution to these 
other problems.


Senegal enjoys an excellent relationship with the United States. The 
government of Senegal is known and respected for its able diplomats 
and has often been supportive of the U.S. in the United Nations, 
including in troop contributions for peacekeeping activities. The United 
States maintains friendly relations with Senegal and provides 
considerable economic and technical assistance. President Diouf paid 
his first official visit to Washington, D.C., in August 1983 and has 
traveled several times to the U.S. since then.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) implements 
the U.S. Government's development assistance efforts, provides 
program assistance linked to reforms in finance, agriculture, and 
natural resource management. USAID provides project assistance in 
the fields of health and family planning, agriculture and natural 
resources (including forestry), and market liberalization. The primary 
development goal of the U.S. Government in Senegal is to help raise 
the per capita incomes of those people in Senegal whose incomes 
depend on the sustainable exploitation of natural resources. USAID 
provided over twenty $23 million in program (including food aid) and 
project assistance to Senegal in fiscal year 1995. The Peace Corps 
program in Senegal involves some 160 volunteers, engaged in forestry, 
health and small business development. The cultural exchange program 
consists of three Fulbright professors and about 20-30 international 
visitor grants per year.

Principal U.S. Officials

Ambassador Designate--Dane Smith
Deputy Chief of Mission--James Ledesma
USAID Director--Anne Williams
Public Affairs Officer (USIS)--Gerald Huchel
Peace Corps Director--Patrick Barry
Defense Attache--Lt. Col. Paul Cariker
Political Officer--David Wagner
Economic Officer--Whitney Young-Baird
Consular Officer--Lili Ming
Administrative Counselor--Robert J. Mcanneny

The U.S. Embassy in Senegal is located on Ave. Jean XXIII at the 
intersection of Ave. Kleber, (P.O. Box 49), Dakar.


Entry Requirements: A passport is required for entry. U.S. do not need 
a visa for stays of less than 90 days. Evidence of a vaccination for 
yellow fever may be required at the port of entry.

Climate and clothing: Lightweight clothing is suitable for Dakar's hot, 
humid summer (June-November). Winter (December-May) is like early 
Fall in Washington, DC--warm days and cool to cold evenings.

Health: The general level of health in Dakar is good; however, city 
water is not potable. Meats should be well cooked and vegetables 
carefully prepared. Malaria is endemic in Senegal; chloroquine 
resistant malaria has been reported since 1989. Malaria prevention with 
mosquito repellent sprays and other barrier methods is important. It is 
imperative that all travelers check with their doctors and obtain one of 
the various forms of chemical prophylaxis such as chloroquine plus 
proguanil. However, mefloquine is the preferred tablet by the mission 
medical unit. Hepatitis A is common and may be prevented with 
gamma globulin. Polio and typhoid are present but present little risk to 
immunized travelers. HIV (the AIDS-related virus) is confirmed 
present in about 1 percent of the general population; as many as 40 
percent of tested prostitutes are infected by for HIV (1989 data). The 
following immunizations should be current for travelers to Senegal:

-- diphtheria (10 yrs.)
-- tetanus (10 yrs.)
-- yellow fever (10 yrs.)
-- typhoid (3 yrs.)
-- polio (once/lifetime adult booster)
-- gamma globulin (1ml per month of travel, max. 5ml ea. 5 mos.)

Transportation: Dakar has good and reasonably frequent worldwide 
airline connections. In the city,  metered taxis are available at rates 
comparable to those in the U.S.

Telecommunications: Long-distance telephone service (direct dial to 
Dakar) is via satellite link. Cable and telex services are available. 
Dakar is five time-zones ahead of eastern standard time (EST). When 
the U.S. is on daylight savings time, Dakar is four time-zones ahead of 

Tourist Attractions: Senegal offers good beaches and swimming, 
boating, fishing, sailing, scuba diving, and spearfishing, and world-
class surfing. There are several national parks, of which Niokola Koba 
and the bird refuge at Djoudj are most visited. Cosmopolitan Dakar is a 
major port of entry into West Africa and has interesting (if 
deteriorating) French colonial architecture, a few museums and other 
sites of historical interest. Goree Island, reached by regular ferry 
Dakar, and its slave museum are poignant reminders of Goree's role as 
a center of the West African slave trade.


These titles are provided as a general indication of material published 
on this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial 

Colvin, Lucie Gallistel. Historical Dictionary of Senegal. Scarecrow 
Press, 1981.
Delgado, Christopher L. and Sidi Jammeh, ed., The Political Economy 
of Senegal under Structural Adjustment. Praeger, 1991.
Fatton, Robert Jr. The Making of a Liberal Democracy: Senegal's 
Passive Revolution, 1975-1985. Lynne Rienner, 1987.
Gellar, Sheldon. Senegal; An African Nation between Islam and the 
West. Westview, 1982.
Gersovitz, Mark & Waterbury, John, eds. The Political Economy of 
Risk & Choice in Senegal. Biblio Dist., 1986.
Lutz, William. Senegal. Chelsea House, 1988.
Sembene, Ousmane. God's Bits of Wood. Doubleday, 1962.

Available from the Superintendent of Documents, US Government 
Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402:

American University. Area Handbook for Senegal. 1974.
U.S. Department of Labor. Foreign Labor Trends. Annual.
U.S. Department of Commerce. "Senegal."  Foreign Economic Trends 
and Their Implications for the United States. International Marketing 
Information Series: Annual.


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