U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Republic of Senegal, February 1998
Released by the Office of Francophone West African Affairs, Bureau of
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%.
Ethnic groups: Wolof 43%; Fulani (Peulh) and Toucouleur 23%; Serer 15%;
Diola, Mandingo, and others 19%.
Religions: Muslim 95%, Christian 4%, traditional 1%.
Languages: French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Serer, Diola, Mandingo,
Education: Attendance--primary 58%, secondary 16%. Literacy--38%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--67/1,000. Life expectancy--50 yrs.
Work force (4.0 million): Agriculture--70% (subsistence or cash crops).
Wage earners (350,000): private sector 61%, government and parapublic
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 council (appointed by the president
from senior magistrates and eminent academics and attorneys), Court of
Final Appeals, Council of State .
Administrative subdivisions: 10 regions, 30 departments, 138
Political parties: 25 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), the Independence and Labor Party (PIT), and the
Democratic and Patriotic Convention (CDP).
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%.
Per capita GDP (1995): $550.
Natural resources: Fish, peanuts, phosphate, iron ore, gold, titanium.
Agriculture (24% of GDP): Products--peanuts, millet, sorghum, manioc,
Industry (22% of GDP): Types--fishing; agricultural product processing;
light manufacturing, mining including energy, oil mining, and
construction: (18 % of GDP). Services: 54% of GDP; including government:
65 % 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
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.
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 27oC
(82oF); December to February minimum temperatures are about 17oC (63oF).
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% 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 indigenous language, of which Wolof has the largest usage.
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--95% 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 also was
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
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 Court of Cessation and the constitutional
council, the justices of which are named by the president, are the
nation's highest tribunals. Senegal is divided into 10 administrative
regions, each headed by a governor appointed by and responsible to the
president. The law on decentralization devolving significant central
government authorities to regional assemblies came into effect in
January 1997 following local elections held in November 1996.
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 full five-year terms in his own right in
1983 and 1988. 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 25
of which several participated in the November 1996 regional and local
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 Cissokho
President of the Constitutional Council--Youssoupha Ndiaye
Prime Minister--Habib Thiam
Minister of State Without Portfolio--Abdoulaye Wade
Minister of State and Minister of 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-Lamine Cisse
Minister of Justice--Jacques Baudin
Minister of Economy, Finance and Planning-Lamine Loum
Minister of National Education--Andre Sonko
Minister of Equipment, Road transport, and Housing--Landing Sane
Minister of Industry and Mining--Magued Diouf
Minister of Health and Social Affairs--Ousmame Ngom
Minister of Commerce, Artisanry, and Industrialization--Idrissa Seck
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
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. Morocco, the United States, Great Britain, and Germany also
provide support but on a smaller scale. Military noninterference in
political affairs has contributed to Senegal's stability since
Senegal has participated in international and regional peacekeeping
missions. In 1992 Senegal sent 1,500 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 (now renamed Kataanga Province
of the Democratic Republic of the Congo) 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
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 rainfall,
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 for U.S. $192 million.
The World Bank also supported Senegal under an economic recovery credit,
a private sector adjustment and competitiveness credit and an
agricultural sector adjustment credit. Senegal also benefited 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 of about U.S. $1.5
billion for program and project aid for the period of 1995-97, 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% in 1994 to reach 4.5% in 1995.
Inflation has reported to be 8% in 1995 compared to 36% in 1994, and the
fiscal deficit has held to 3.3% 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 liberalization
of soap, milk, coffee, soft drinks, cement, tomato paste, and fresh
--Abolition of monopolistic agreements in major industries (cement,
textiles, wheat flour, tomato paste, packing materials, and
--Elimination of export subsidies;
--Liberalization of rice and sugar imports;
--Abolition of the requirement for prior government authorization to lay
off workers during economic downturns; and
--Preparation of a list of 18 major public enterprises to be privatized
during the next three years.
Senegal's economy is principally agricultural, with more than 70% 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-
The fishing sector has replaced the groundnut sector as Senegal's export
leader. Its export earnings reached $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 devaluation.
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. Currently, there are no
restrictions on the transfer or repatriation of capital and 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 also is 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 carried 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. It
was elected to the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1997.
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 World.
Senegal enjoys mostly cordial relations with its neighbors. In spite of
clear progress on other fronts with Mauritania (border security,
resource management, economic integration, etc.), there remains the
problem of some 35,000 to 40,000 Afro-Mauritanian refugees living in
Senegal. Senegal practices energetic diplomacy, including the creation
of bilateral and multilateral fora, to achieve peaceful resolution to
its diplomatic 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 supported the U.S. in the United Nations, including with 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. Senegal hosted the Second African-African American
Summit in 1995. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton began her trip to
Africa in March 1997 with a visit to Senegal.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) implements the
U.S. Government's development assistance efforts, providing 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 $23-million in program
(including food aid) and project assistance to Senegal in fiscal year
1995. The Peace Corps program in Senegal involves 122 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 Counselor-David G. Wagner
Economic Officer--Whitney Young-Baird
Consular Officer--Lili Ming
Administrative Counselor-Mark Stevens
The U.S. Embassy in Senegal is located on Ave. Jean XXIII at the
intersection of Ave. Kleber, (P.O. Box 49), Dakar.
TRAVEL AND BUSINESS INFORMATION
The U.S. Department of State's Consular Information Program provides
Travel Warnings and Consular Information Sheets. Travel Warnings are
issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel
to a certain country. Consular Information Sheets exist for all
countries and include information on immigration practices, currency
regulations, health conditions, areas of instability, crime and
security, political disturbances, and the addresses of the U.S. posts in
the country. Public Announcements are issued as a means to disseminate
information quickly about terrorist threats and other relatively short-
term conditions overseas which pose significant risks to the security of
American travelers. Free copies of this information are available by
calling the Bureau of Consular Affairs at 202-647-5225 or via the fax-
on-demand system: 202-647-3000. Travel Warnings and Consular Information
Sheets also are available on the Consular Affairs Internet home page:
http://travel.state.gov and the Consular Affairs Bulletin Board (CABB).
To access CABB, dial the modem number: (301-946-4400 (it will
accommodate up to 33,600 bps), set terminal communications program to N-
8-1 (no parity, 8 bits, 1 stop bit); and terminal emulation to VT100.
The login is travel and the password is info (Note: Lower case is
required). The CABB also carries international security information from
the Overseas Security Advisory Council and Department's Bureau of
Diplomatic Security. Consular Affairs Trips for Travelers publication
series, which contain information on obtaining passports and planning a
safe trip abroad, can be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-
7954; telephone: 202-512-1800; fax 202-512-2250.
Emergency information concerning Americans traveling abroad may be
obtained from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-
5225. For after-hours emergencies, Sundays and holidays, call 202-647-
Passport Services information can be obtained by calling the 24-hour, 7-
day a week automated system ($.35 per minute) or live operators 8 a.m.
to 8 p.m. (EST) Monday-Friday ($1.05 per minute). The number is 1-900-
225-5674 (TDD: 1-900-225-7778). Major credit card users (for a flat rate
of $4.95) may call 1-888-362-8668 (TDD: 1-888-498-3648)
Travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. A hotline at
(404) 332-4559 gives the most recent health advisories, immunization
recommendations or requirements, and advice on food and drinking water
safety for regions and countries. A booklet entitled Health Information
for International Travel (HHS publication number CDC-95-8280) is
available from the U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC
20402, tel. (202) 512-1800.
Information on travel conditions, visa requirements, currency and
customs regulations, legal holidays, and other items of interest to
travelers also may be obtained before your departure from a country's
embassy and/or consulates in the U.S. (for this country, see "Principal
Government Officials" listing in this publication).
U.S. citizens who are long-term visitors or traveling in dangerous areas
are encouraged to register at the U.S. embassy upon arrival in a country
(see "Principal U.S. Embassy Officials" listing in this publication).
This may help family members contact you in case of an emergency.
Further Electronic Information:
Department of State Foreign Affairs Network. Available on the Internet,
DOSFAN provides timely, global access to official U.S. foreign policy
information. Updated daily, DOSFAN includes Background Notes; Dispatch,
the official magazine of U.S. foreign policy; daily press briefings;
Country Commercial Guides; directories of key officers of foreign
service posts; etc. DOSFAN's World Wide Web site is at
U.S. Foreign Affairs on CD-ROM (USFAC). Published annually by the U.S.
Department of State, USFAC archives information on the Department of
State Foreign Affairs Network, and includes an array of official foreign
policy information from 1990 to the present. Contact the Superintendent
of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954,
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954. To order, call (202) 512-1800 or fax (202)
National Trade Data Bank (NTDB). Operated by the U.S. Department of
Commerce, the NTDB contains a wealth of trade-related information. It is
available on the Internet (www.stat-usa.gov) and on CD-ROM. Call the
NTDB Help-Line at (202) 482-1986 for more information.
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