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
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.
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.
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,
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
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.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
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
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
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
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
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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