Full Country Name:
The Republic of Senegal
Country Profile: Senegal
197 000 sq km
Dakar (2.1 million)
People and language:
Senegal is made up of numerous ethnic groups, including the Wolof, Pular, Serer and the Diola.
French is the official Language, while Malinke, Wolof, Serere, Soninke and Pular are “national languages”. African languages
(most commonly Wolof) are widely spoken.
Around 95% of Senegalese are Muslim. Christianity and indigenous Africa religions are also practised.
CFA Franc. €1=656 Francs
Major political parties:
The two largest parties are the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS) and the Socialist Party
(PS). Other political parties include the African Party for Democracy and Socialism (PADS/AJ); Alliance of Forces of Progress
(AFP); Democratic League-Labour Party Movement (LD-MPT); Independence and Labour Party (PIT); National Democratic Rally
(RND); Senegalese Democratic Party-Renewal (PDS-R) and the Union for Democratic Renewal (URD).
Head of State:
President Abdoulaye Wade
Membership of international groupings/organisations:
African Development Bank (AFDB), Economic Community of West
African States (ECOWAS), Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMAO), African Union (AU), Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
Senegal, the most westerly African state, occupies an area of 197,161 sq km between Mauritania to the north, Mali to the
east, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south. The Gambia almost divides Senegal in the south. The Casamance region, south
of The Gambia, lies on the northern fringe of the monsoon climate, and has a rainy season of 4-5 months. Northern Senegal is
arid and increasingly desertified.
The areas of Senegal around Dakar and St Louis, colonised in the 1840s, were the earliest parts of the formal French empire
in sub-Saharan Africa. Dakar was the capital of French West Africa from the early 1900s. Some Africans from this region were
granted full French citizenship, and a handful of individuals became prominent in French public life, such as Blaise Daigne
and Leopold Sedar Senghor, both members of the French parliament in the colonial period.
On independence in 1960, Senghor became the country’s first President. Famous for his intellectual and literary achievements,
his rule was peaceful and largely benevolent, although the country was a one party state from 1966 until multiparty democracy
was re-introduced in 1976. In 1980 Senghor retired, handing the presidency to his Prime Minister Abdou Diouf, who
subsequently confirmed his position by winning presidential elections in 1983.
In 1988 presidential elections were marred by allegations of fraud and followed by serious rioting. Opposition leaders were
tried for incitement to violence, and some, including the veteran opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade, were convicted. The
Socialist Party (PS) won elections in 1993 and 1998 and President Diouf was re-elected in 1993. However, with the economy
declining in the 1990s and with a series of splits within the PS, the party’s old aura of invincibility began to fade.
Senegal is a presidential republic, with an elected National Assembly. The President is permitted to stand for two terms of 7
years. The winning candidate must gain the absolute majority of votes in the first round. If this does not happen, the two
candidates with the highest number of votes go through to a second round.
Wade won the Presidential elections in 2000 after a second round run off against Diouf. Diouf quickly conceded defeat and
there was a peaceful transition to the country's first ever non-PS Government. Legislative elections were called in the
following year. Wade’s PDS formed a loose alliance with other parties under the banner “Sopi” (coalition for change). With
strong support from Wade they won convincingly. They currently have 80 of the 120 parliamentary seats.
Wade has worked with 4 Prime Ministers. Moustapha Niasse held the position in 2000 before leaving the PDS alliance to form
his own party. He was followed in the position by Mme Madior Boye, who in turn was replaced in November 2002 by the dynamic
presidential advisor Idrissa Seck. He was replaced in turn by Macky Sall in April 2004.
In July 2004, Madiambal Diagne, Managing Editor of "Le Quotidien" was arrested for publishing Confidential reports, false
information and incitement to rebellion. He was released after 18 days of detention following a campaign by civil society
organisations, trade unionists, the media and opposition leaders. The controversial "Ezzan" Law, which grants an amnesty for
some politically motivated crimes, was passed on 7 January 2005. A defection by 14 PDS Deputies, members of the Liberal and
Democratic Group at the National Assembly occurred on 25 April protesting an increasing lack of democracy and transparency.
Seck was said to have been behind the move. He was arrested in July 2005 for misuse of public funds and on charges relating
to state security.
Since 1982 an armed separatist movement in the impoverished Casamance region of southern Senegal, known as the Mouvement des
Forces Democratiques de Casamance (MFDC) has been fighting for independence. Negotiations with the Dakar government have been
hindered by constant splits and leadership disputes within the MFDC. Much of the apparently rebel activity is no more than
banditry. The MFDC was supported clandestinely in the 1990s by the military in neighbouring Guinea-Bissau, but this support
has since declined. A ceasefire was announced in December 2004 and a Peace Agreement was signed in early 2005, although there
are reports of continuing low level banditry in the Casamance.
For recent statements of UK government policy towards Senegal go to the Hansard website
and enter 'Senegal' in the
Senegal has a good record on Human Rights. The press, civil society organisations and political parties generally exercise
their activities freely. In recent years however some concern has been expressed over intimidation of journalists, and over
the Ezzam amnesty law (see above), which provided for amnesty for political crimes between 1983 and 2004 and has raised
concerns over impunity.
Basic Economic Facts
Main economic sectors:
agricultural products (groundnuts, millet, corn, sorghum, rice, cotton, market gardening and
livestock), fish processing, phosphate mining, fertilizer production, petroleum refining, construction materials.
fish, groundnuts, petroleum products, phosphates, cotton
Main trade partners:
EU, United States.
Senegal’s economy is based on primary product export (groundnuts, phosphates and fish) and tourism. Remittances from abroad
also make a considerable contribution to the economy. As a member of the Franc Zone, the country enjoys low inflation.
Privatisation of the parastatal which deals in groundnuts and groundnut products (Sonacos) was completed earlier this year.
The privatisation of the electricity sector (Senelec) is ongoing. Ground nut production has recently stood up well despite a
locust invasion in 2004 which seriously damaged cereal crop production. Senegal runs a successful airline (Air Senegal) in
partnership with the Moroccan national airline.
Senegal faces serious development challenges. The life expectancy is 52 years at birth and 26% of the population live on less
than a dollar a day. There is a wide disparity between the over-crowded capital and the poor and isolated interior. However
Senegal enjoys good relations with international donors, and reached HIPC completion point in April 2004, which has since led
to debt alleviation measures by bilateral and multilateral donors. France, the EU, Germany, the US, Japan, Taiwan, some
Middle Eastern States are major donors. The UK aids Senegal’s development through UN agencies and the European Commission.
The only bilateral funding is some £200,000 per annum provided through DFID's Small Grants Scheme, administered by the
British Embassy in Dakar.
Relations with The Gambia have suffered due to disputes over cross-border access. However, recent visits by Prime Minister
Idrissa Seck and in August 2003 by President Wade have helped to improve relations. Negotiations continue over the long
standing issue of building a bridge over the Gambia river to facilitate movement between the north and south of Senegal.
Relations with Guinea-Bissau have improved since the death of former Junta leader Ausamane Mane in 1999, who was thought to
have aided the Casamance rebels.
Senegal pursues an active foreign policy. While France is a close ally for historical reasons, Senegal has also sought allies
as far apart as the Middle East and Taiwan, and enjoys good relations with the United States, where a large Senegalese
community resides. President Bush included a brief visit to Senegal at the start of his Africa tour in 2003. A number of
Senegalese hold high positions in international organisations.
Senegal has a prominent role in Africa, often maintaining independent positions at odds with other African countries, for
example in 2002 towards Madagascar, when Senegal broke the African Union consensus to recognise the new Ravalomanana
Government. President Wade has been instrumental in the NEPAD agenda - a plan for the regeneration of the African continent
adopted by the African Union in 2001. He has played an important role in promoting that agenda in the wider international
community, including at meetings with G8 countries. Senegal has contributed troops to numerous international peacekeeping
operations, and senior Senegalese military are respected across the continent for their role in political and military
SENEGAL'S RELATIONS WITH THE UK
Although not traditionally close, Senegal and the UK enjoy good relations including consultations on pan-African issues.
There is a community of approximately 2000 Senegalese in the UK. Trade links are modest but growing. There is modest but good
military cooperation. Dakar was used as the Forward Mounting Base for British deployment to Sierra Leone in 2000 and was the
evacuation point for British and other foreign nationals. Each year the UK sponsors a small number of scholarships for
postgraduate courses in the UK.
Britain's Ambassador in Senegal is Mr Peter Newall. There is also a British Council office in Dakar, specialising in English
Language Teaching. Senegal is represented in the UK by Ambassador General Mamadou Niang.
UK representation in Senegal
Senegal's representation in the UK
Trade and Investment with the UK
British exports in 2004 were £67.41m, up from £52M the previous year. These were made up of food, beverages, cigarettes,
chemicals, machinery for transportation and manufactured goods. British imports from Senegal in 2004 were £7.1 m, and
included fish, furniture, oil seeds, fruit, rubber, fertiliser and animal feed.
UK Trade & Investment Country Profile: Senegal
A substantial number of senior members of the Senegalese government have visited the UK in recent years, including The
Foreign Minister, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio (2001) and the then chief of Defence Staff, Brigadier General Babacar Gaye
(2002).President Wade has made regular visits to the UK since his election in 2000. In 2001 he meet the Prime Minister; in
2003 he made two visits to the UK, meeting the Prime Minister, the then Minister for Africa Baroness Amos, addressing a
conference on NEPAD at the Royal Institute of International Affairs and delivering a lecture at St Anthony’s college Oxford.
President Wade attended the G8 meeting in Gleneagles in Scotland in July 2005.
In February 2002, Prime Minister Tony Blair and the then Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short,
visited Senegal as part of a tour of West Africa. Mr Blair is the first British Prime Minister to have visited the country.
Baroness Amos, then Foreign Office Minister for Africa, visited in February and April 2002.The Earl of Wessex visited Senegal
in early June 2004 in connection with the international Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. The Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
Paul Boateng, visited Dakar in October and in November 2004 and Hilary Benn, International Development Secretary, also
visited in 2004 - both visited to promote the work of the Commission for Africa. The Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness
Amos, attended Dakar Agricole in February 2005.
Travel advice: Senegal
Last reviewed: 1 July 2005.