Senegal profile

Map of Senegal

Senegal has been held up as one of Africa's model democracies. It has an established multi-party system and a tradition of civilian rule.

Although poverty is widespread and unemployment is high, the country has one of the region's more stable economies.

For the Senegalese, political participation and peaceful leadership changes are not new. Even as a colony Senegal had representatives in the French parliament. And the promoter of African culture, Leopold Senghor, who became president at independence in 1960, voluntarily handed over power to Abdou Diouf in 1980.

Beach scene in Dakar Senegal's beaches are a big attraction for holidaymakers

The 40-year rule of Senegal's Socialist Party came to a peaceful end in elections in 2000, which were hailed as a rare democratic power transfer on a continent plagued by coups, conflict and election fraud.

Separatists

Senegal is on the western-most part of the bulge of Africa and includes desert in the north and a moist, tropical south.

At a glance

  • Politics: Macky Sall won presidential elections in 2012, replacing Abdoulaye Wade who controversially ran for a third term in office
  • Economy: Agriculture drives the economy; tourism is a source of foreign exchange
  • International: Senegal has mediated between Sudan and Chad over Darfur tensions; many African illegal migrants use Senegal as a departure point for Europe
  • Security: Despite a peace deal, a low-level separatist rebellion simmers in Casamance, in the south

Country profiles compiled by BBC Monitoring

Slaves, ivory and gold were exported from the coast during the 17th and 18th centuries and now the economy is based mainly on agriculture. The money sent home by Senegalese living abroad is a key source of revenue.

A long-running, low-level separatist war in the southern Casamance region has claimed hundreds of lives. The conflict broke out over claims by the region's people that they were being marginalised by the Wolof, Senegal's main ethnic group.

The government and rebels signed a peace pact at the end of 2004, raising hopes for reconciliation.

On the world stage, Senegal has sent peacekeeping troops to DR Congo, Liberia and Kosovo.

Casamance River in Senegal The Casamance region has been the scene of a struggle for autonomy

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Africa stories

RSS

Features

  • chocolate cake and strawberriesTrick your tongue

    Would this dessert taste different on a black plate?


  • Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George leaving New Zealand'Great ambassadors'

    How New Zealand reacted to William, Kate - and George


  • Major Power Failure ident on BBC2Going live

    Why BBC Two's launch was not all right on the night


  • Front display of radio Strange echoes

    The mysterious 'numbers stations' left over from the Cold War era


  • A letter from a Somali refugee to a Syrian child'Be a star'

    Children's uplifting letters of hope to homeless Syrians


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.