Senegal: Actual Facts

Background.
A former French Colony, Senegal is the most westerly state on the African continent, with its Capital City of Dakar, jutting into the North Atlantic, the most westerly city. The state holds the distinction of being The Gambia’s only neighbour (740km), surrounding it on three sides with the ocean to the west. However, Senegal shares its borders with four other neighbours, with Guinea-Bissau (338km) and Guinea (330km) to the south, Mali (419km) to the east and Mauritania (813km) to the north.)

Area
196,722 square km (slightly smaller than South Dakota)

Natural hazards
Senegal has extreme weather and is subject to lowlands seasonal flood and periodic droughts;

Agricultural products
peanuts, millet, corn, sorghum, rice, cotton, tomatoes, green vegetables; cattle, poultry, pigs; fish

Population: 12,643,799

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%

Languages
French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, Mandinka

Population below poverty line: 51%

Infant mortality rate
56.42 deaths/1,000 live births

Current Unemployment rate: 48%

Recent History
Senegal is located on the West African coast, between Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania. After their independence in 1960, Senegal enjoyed one of the most peaceful transitions in Africa from colonial rule. Its first two elected Presidents each served for twenty years, with peaceful transfers of power, followed by a fully democratic election in 2000. Its principal political party was for 40 years the Socialist Party (PS); the current President of [i]Senegal leads the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS).

Political Climate
Senegal is one of the few African countries that has never experienced a coup d’état. Its largest political challenge—a secession attempt from the southern part of the country (Casamance)—started in the 1980s and extended until recent years, whereby the Senegalese government signed a peace agreement with the MFDC (Mouvement des Forces Démocratiques de Casamance). Retaining a high level of international visibility, with relative political and social stability since its independence in 1960, Senegal has fared overall better in social progress than its neighbors.

Culture
Senegal is rich in arts and culture and has been influenced by their colonization. The Senegalese artistic practices include weaving fabric; embroidering; pottery-making; making jewelry from various metals, wood, beads, seeds and clay; woodcarvings; and sculpting statues.

Economics
Senegal was characterized as one of the best economic performers in sub-Saharan Africa from 1995 to 2005, with real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growing on average by about 5% annually, reflecting the first period of sustained increase since its independence. Senegal’s economy is largely comprised of a few sectors, including groundnuts, chemical industry, tourism, fisheries, and services.

Poverty, Growth & Development
A surge in international oil prices and incidents in other sectors of its exports caused a slowdown in 2006, but the government responded with macroeconomic reforms that helped to return GDP growth to historical trends. The largest economic challenge facing Senegal is to enhance growth and reduce poverty. Although Senegal realized a decline in poverty over the period of one decade, dropping from 68% in 1994 to 51% in 2005, Senegal remains a poor country with a high level of poverty, most prevalent in the rural areas.[1]

[1] FACTS compiled from: Nation Master Website: http://www.nationmaster.com/country/sg-senegal

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