U.S. Department of State
Background Notes: Republic of Senegal, February 1998
Released by the Office of Francophone West African Affairs, Bureau of 
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%. 
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 

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 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, 
rice, cotton. 
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 
(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.


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 


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 
(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. 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. 

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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