Backgr Notes Ser. 1988 Jul;1-6.


PIP: Attention in this discussion of Senegal is directed to the following: geography; the people; history; government and political conditions; the economy; foreign relations; defense; and relations between Senegal and the US. Senegal, which lies on the bulge of western Africa, is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. About 70% of the population is rural. French, the official language, is used regularly only by the literate minority. Most Senegalese speak Wolof, Pulaar, Diola, Mandingo, or other ethnic languages. Senegal was inhabited in prehistoric times. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the area came under the influence of the great Mandingo empires to the east. The Jolof Empire of Senegal was founded during this time. French commercial establishments date from the 17th century. During the 19th century, the French gradually established control over the interior regions and administered them as a protectorate until 1920 and as a colony thereafter. In January 1959, Senegal and the French Soudan merged to form the Mali Federation, which became fully independent on June 20, 1960. After the breakup of the Mali Federation on August 20, 1960, President Senghor and Prime Minister Mamdou Dia governed together under a parliamentary system. A 1970 constitutional amendment recreated the post of prime minister, but this post was subsequently abolished in 1983. The 1963 constitution transformed Senegal's government into an executive-presidential system; the president is elected by universal adult suffrage to a 5-year term. Senegal's governing political party is the Socialist Party, and in 1981 the constitution was amended to legitimize previously unrecognized parties. President Diouf continues to pursue a longterm structural adjustment program designed to reverse more than a decade of economic decline. The economy now seems to have stabilized as a result of financial austerity measures and fiscal restraint. The country is overwhelmingly agricultural, with more than 70% of the labor force engaged in farming. Senegal has sought vigorously foreign investment to hasten economic development. The US maintains friendly relations with Senegal. US assistance to Senegal has included capital and technical assistance and loans and donations of food.

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Africa, Northern
  • Africa, Western
  • Agriculture
  • Americas
  • Commerce
  • Conservation of Natural Resources
  • Demography*
  • Developing Countries
  • Economics*
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Geography*
  • Industry
  • North America
  • Political Systems*
  • Politics*
  • Population Characteristics
  • Population Density
  • Population Growth
  • Population*
  • Senegal
  • Social Planning*
  • United States