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Senegal: borderland between the desert and the forest

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Senegal is a state of northwestern Africa located along the coast of the Atlantic ocean. Ancient French colony is now an overwhelmingly Muslim state (94%) with a small Christian minority (5%).

Almost half of the population is of Wolof ethnicity (43%), while the second most important ethnic group is that of the Fula (24%). The official language of Senegal is French although Wolof is often used as a lingua franca. While in the Casamance, which is the southern part of the country, Creole Portuguese is also spoken.


The country was visited by the Portuguese in the fifteenth century, who at the time founded some commercial stations along the coast. In particular, they settled on the island of Gorée, located in front of the Cape Verde peninsula, building a chapel and trading with the local population. The island was later occupied by the Dutch, English and French who used it for the slave trade.


Senegal is a flat country, its highest point is a hill located on the border with Guinea which reaches 581 meters in height. The country is crossed by numerous rivers, to the north the Senegal River marks the border with Mauritania. The Saloum and Siné rivers flow in the center of the country. While in the extreme south are the Gambia and Casamance rivers. The small state of Gambia is completely surrounded by Senegalese territory except for a few kilometers of coast along the Atlantic ocean. To the south, the country borders on Guinea Bissau, that is, the ancient colony of Portuguese Guinea, and on Guinea.

The coast of Senegal extends for over 500 km on the Atlantic ocean, along this coast is the westernmost point of the African continent, Pointe des Almadies in the Cape Verde peninsula. The coast is generally low and sandy with lagoons, swampy areas and mangrove vegetation. Only in correspondence with the Cape Verde peninsula are some rocky hills. Almost 600 km west of the coast of Senegal is the archipelago of the Cape Verde islands.

Geographically, the country represents the meeting point between the Sahara desert area and the equatorial area of the Gulf of Guinea, the north of the country is semi-desert, only thriving agriculture is practiced along the course of the Senegal River. Much of the central area of Senegal is made up of arid and steppe savannahs. South of Cape Verde the landscape becomes greener and the equatorial forest appears along the border with Guinea.


Senegal’s economy is essentially agricultural. The most developed crop is that of peanut, but rice, vegetables, sorghum, cotton are grown in the country. Fishing and sheep farming are also important activities for the population. The industry is mainly focused on the transformation of agricultural products.

The climate of Senegal.

The page of the Government of Senegal.

  • Surface: 196,723 sq km. (Arative 12%, Meadows and Pastures 29%, Forests and Woods 38%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 21%)
  • Population: 15,900,000 (adj. 2019) Wolof 43%, Fula 24%, Serer 14%.
  • Capital: Dakar.
  • Languages: Official language is French.
  • Religion: Muslims 94%, Christians 5%.
  • Currency: CFA franc (XOF).
  • Time zone: UTC

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