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Senegal

Map and Basic Facts about Senegal

Location:
Senegal is in Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania.

Land Boundaries:
The Gambia 740 km, Guinea 330 km, Guinea-Bissau 338 km, Mali 419 km, and Mauritania 813 km.

Geography:
Size 196,190 sq km, slightly smaller than South Dakota, US. Senegal has a tropical climate and is generally hot and humid There's a rainy season (May to November) with strong southeast winds. The dry season (December to April) is dominated by hot, dry, harmattan wind (lots of sand blowing around). Senegal's terrain consists of generally low, rolling, plains rising to foothills in the southeast. Its lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean at 0 m and its highest point is an unnamed feature near Nepen Diakha which stands at a mere 581 m. Senegal is the westernmost country on the African continent; The Gambia is almost an enclave within Senegal.

Population:
Just over 11 million people live in Senegal. Life expectancy is around 58 years. Birth rate is on average 4.75 per woman. Literacy rate is just over 40% (30% for women and 50% for men).

Languages:
French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, and Mandinka.

Ethnic Groups:
Wolof 43.3%, Pular 23.8%, Serer 14.7%, Jola 3.7%, Mandinka 3%, Soninke 1.1%, European and Lebanese 1%, other 9.4%.

Religion:
Muslim 94%, indigenous beliefs 1%, Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic).

Brief Political History:
Independent from France in 1960, Senegal was ruled by the Socialist Party for forty years until current President Abdoulaye WADE was elected in 2000. Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia in 1982, but the envisaged integration of the two countries was never carried out, and the union was dissolved in 1989. A southern separatist group sporadically has clashed with government forces since 1982, but Senegal remains one of the most stable democracies in Africa. Senegal has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping.

Economic Overview:
In January 1994, Senegal undertook a bold and ambitious economic reform program with the support of the international donor community. This reform began with a 50% devaluation of Senegal's currency, the CFA franc, which was linked at a fixed rate to the French franc. Government price controls and subsidies have been steadily dismantled. After seeing its economy contract by 2.1% in 1993, Senegal made an important turnaround, thanks to the reform program, with real growth in GDP averaging over 5% annually during 1995-2004. Annual inflation had been pushed down to the low single digits. As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Senegal is working toward greater regional integration with a unified external tariff and a more stable monetary policy. Senegal still relies heavily upon outside donor assistance, however. Under the IMF's Highly Indebted Poor Countries debt relief program, Senegal will benefit from eradication of two-thirds of its bilateral, multilateral, and private sector debt.

Source: CIA World Factbook

Further Reading:
Senegal Travel Links
Goree Island
The Dakar Rally
Cheap Flights to Africa
Health and Safety Tips for Travelers to Africa

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