Senegal

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Senegal is a country in Western Africa. With the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Senegal has Guinea-Bissau to the south, Guinea to the southeast, Mali to the east, and Mauritania to the north. The Gambia is almost an enclave of Senegal in the middle of the western coast.

Population: 13,300,410 people
Area: 196,722 km2
Highest point: 581 m
Coastline: 531 km
Life expectancy: 60.57 years
GDP per capita: $2,100
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About Senegal

History

Prehistory and Ancient Kingdoms

The earliest known human settlement in Senegal existed over 350,000 years ago. The Stone Circles of Senegambia (now World Heritage Sites) are believed to date back to 3 BC. Not a lot is known about the earliest civilizations, but there were many paleolithic and neolithic civilizations around the Senegal River.

The Tekrur Kingdom (Tekrour), formed around the Senegal River in Futa Toro (Fouta Toro), is one of the earliest recorded black kingdoms. Although the exact formation date is unknown, historians believe it began in the early 9th century, around the same time as the Ghana Empire formed in the east. Parts of eastern Senegal were ruled by the Ghana Empire as it expanded but Tekrur was more concentrated in Senegal(although the southern regions were inhabited by ancestors of the Wolof). It was during Tekrur rule that Islam came to Senegal in the 11th century from the Almoravids in the North. The Tekrur rulers first converted to Islam and most of the kingdom followed soon after. After the Almoravids attacked the Ghanaian Empire, it slowly lost power and influence, giving rise to the Mali Empire in 1235.

The Wolof Empire (Djolof) was formed in the 13th century from many smaller states to the south of Tekrur as a tributary state of the Mali Empire. Unlike their northern neighbors, they were not converted to Islam; they were animists. The Tekrur Kingdom was weak by this time, so the rising Wolof and Mali Empires excised heavy influence over them (The Mali Empire also considered Tekrur to be a tributary state). The Wolof Empire obtained full independence from Mali in 1360 with its capital at Linguère and overtook territories to the south around the Gambia and established many groups as vassals, such as the Sine Kingdom in 1400. The Wolof Empire became quite powerful and at the height of its rule saw the arrival of the Portuguese.

Portuguese Arrival and Fall of Wolof Empire

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Senegal at Goree Island in 1444. They were searching for a new spice route to India but soon established ports in Goree and on the Cap-Vert Peninsula (present-day Dakar). The Wolof and Portuguese established trade relations, providing wealth to the empire. Europeans payed good money for war captives (which they sent off as slaves), and the natives were able to bring the slaves to them so that they didn't have to go inland. Senegal was one of the most profitable ports early on in the slave trading business and the strong Wolof were able to sell many captives from weaker regions. Their tributary, the Sine Kingdom, was also quite actively involved in selling captives to the Portuguese. Members of the Waalo Kingdom (a Wolof vassal state) were commonly the victims of captive raids. Sometimes the Europeans incited wars in order to ensure more captives while in other cases, the money they payed was enough incentive for natives to start conflicts just to produce slaves.

While profits were great in the beginning, the Atlantic slave trade soon crippled the empire as the Cayor Kingdom separated from the Wolof in 1549 and the Sine Kingdom became independent in 1550, cutting the Wolof off from the coast and from trade and business with the Portuguese. Along with internal problems, the Wolof were also plagued by outside problems. As a former tributary state of the Mali Empire, the Wolof maintained strong ties with Mali through trade with the empire, but as the Songhai grew stronger, they seized much of Mali's territory, further isolating the Wolof. Furthermore, the Denianke Kingdom (Denanke) had taken over territories to the north, including Takrur, and had attacked the Wolof's northern territories, which they struggled to maintain. By 1600, the Wolof Empire had completely disbanded, although one of the territories remained a Wolof state.

French Conquest

The location and success of trade in Senegal made it a hot commodity among Europeans. The Portuguese, British, French, and Dutch all wanted the territory, particularly Goree Island. In 1588 the Dutch were able to successfully overtake the Portuguese and expanded trade. France established its first post in Saint-Louis. The Dutch and French were both keen to take control of the other's territory and fears of the growing powers of the Dutch Republic came to a head in the Franco-Dutch War. The war actually took place in Europe, but while the Dutch defended their homeland, the French attacked Goree Island and ousted the Dutch from Senegal, claiming it for France in 1677.

Territories on the mainland were taken from and returned to France by the British. When the British took the territory during the Napoleonic War, they abolished slavery in 1807 and upon its return to France, the French agreed to uphold it, so slave trade in Senegal fell sharply during the 19th century but its rich resources were still in demand and the French soon went inland to claim the territory.

During the time Europe was fighting over the coastal settlements, the Senegalese still had control of the land. The Waalo Kingdom existed around the Saint-Louis trading post, so they had a treaty with the French in which the French would pay them for goods and they would provide protection for the traders. When French ambitions turned to colonisation, they started by conquering their Waalo allies in 1855. Around the same time, the Toucouleur Empire had conquered the Futa Toro, which formed out of an Islamic Revolution among citizens in the Denianke Kingdom in 1776 who were tired of being persecuted. The Toucouleur unsuccessfully tried to drive out the French in 1857, and the Trarza from Mauritania who supported the Senegalese kingdoms were also threatening French advancement.

The French built a series of forts along the coast and river, and the Trarza were told they would not be attacked as long as they stayed north of the Senegal River and they did, which allowed France to establish greater control over northern Senegal. The construction of the Dakar-Niger Railway made it much easier to maintain control of the region and Senegal was in French control by 1895 and officially became part of French West Africa in 1904.

French Senegal to Independence

The French created the Grand Council of French West Africa to oversee the territories and only French citizens and citizens of the Four Communes in Senegal were able to become members. The colonized people were only considered to be French subjects, so they were prevented from gaining power however, in 1914 Blaise Diagne was able to prove he was born in one of the communes (Saint-Louis) and became the first black man elected to oversee the colonies. He then passed a law to allow citizens of Dakar, Saint-Louis, Rufisque, and Goree to vote in French elections and he sent many West Africans to aid France in WWI.

Senegal and French Sudan (modern Mali) joined to form the Mali Federation in 1959. The following year, France agreed to give them independence and on June 20, 1960, it officially gained independence from France. Senegal soon defected from the Mali Federation and became an independent state in August 1960. Senegal briefly joined the Gambia to form the nation of Senegambia in 1982 but they separated before the year ended. Issues with separatists in the southern Casamance region of Senegal have occurred since the 1980s, but a treaty was signed in 2004 that has been upheld to this day.

Senegal is often praised for its incorporation of all its ethnic and religious groups into a peaceful society.

Climate

Tropical; hot, humid; rainy season (May to November) has strong southeast winds; dry season (December to April) dominated by hot, dry, harmattan wind; Natural hazards : lowlands seasonally flooded; periodic droughts.

Activities

  • Fathala Reserve (at Karang just north of the border to Gambia),  221 776379455, e-mail: sarra@orange.sn. open all year. Go an a 3-hour mini-safari in your own car or hire an off-road car at the reserve. You will see giraffes, rhinos, elands, antilopes, many birds 10000.

Food

Be careful with food prepared by the road, as it could be cooked in unsanitary conditions. Western-style meals are available and can be found at restaurants in various parts of Dakar, Thies, Saint Louis and other towns and near the big hotels in the Petite Côte and in some other touristic regions of the country, too. If you really want to try the genuine Senegalese food, you can buy it at restaurants serving Senegalese dishes; or alternatively, you can make it yourself with the food gathered fresh from the markets or supermarkets.

The official dish of Senegal is ceebu jen (or thebou diene) -- rice and fish. It comes in two varieties (red and white -- named for the different sauces). The Senegalese love ceebu jen and will often ask if you've ever tried it, and it is definitely part of the experience. Even better if you get the chance to eat with your hands around the bowl with a Senegalese family! Keep your eyes out for the delicious, but elusive ceebu jen "diagga", which is served with extra sauce and fish balls. Other common dishes are Maafe, which is a rich, oily peanut-based sauce with meat that is served over white rice. "Yassa" is a delicious onion sauce that is often served over rice and chicken, "Yassa poulet" or with deep fried fish "Yassa Jen."

Drinks

If you intend to explore the arid area of Senegal (Saint-Louis & Ferlo), you need to drink several liters of water a day. Even in Dakar, dehydration is possible during warmer months if you do not drink enough water each day.

Shopping

The West African CFA franc (XOF) is used by Senegal. It's also used by Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger and Togo. While strictly speaking, a separate currency from the Central African CFA franc (XAF), the two currencies are used interchangeably at par throughout all CFA franc (XAF & XOF) using countries.

Both CFA francs are guaranteed by the French treasury and are pegged to the euro at €1 = XOF655.957.

Maps

Tourist maps are available at the tourist offices.

International Driving Permit (IDP)

If you want to explore the country by (rented) car, you need one.

Vaccines

A yellow fever vaccine is required, together with the vaccination certificate, to enter Senegal. It is, however, not checked on a regular basis.

Mosquito repellents

Buy at least a mosquito net (preferably permethrin-impregnated) and a good repellent (preferably DEET-based). Permethrin can be washed into clothing and will remain in the garment for a month before the effectiveness of the product wears off and should be reapplied.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Senegal on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Senegal

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Dakar is the capital and largest city of Senegal and is often regarded as the cultural and commercial center of French-speaking West Africa. The metropolitan area is home to about 2.4 million people and lies on the end of the Cap Verte peninsula, which marks the westernmost point on the African mainland. ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • Ile de Goree Beach
  • Presidential Palace
  • African Renaissance Statue
  • Dakar Grand Mosque
  • IFAN Museum of African Arts
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Mbour is a city in Cap Vert-Thies.

Interesting places:

  • Bandia Animal Reserve
  • Saly Golf Club
  • Mbour Fishermen Village
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Interesting places:

  • Place Faidherbe
  • Faidherbe Bridge
  • Lompoul Desert
  • Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary
  • Guembeul Reserve
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Mbour is a city in Cap Vert-Thies.

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Mar Lodj is a rural community in Central Senegal. It belongs to the district of Fimela, in the Fatick administrative region.

Interesting places:

  • Samba Dia Forest
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Toubakouta is a city in Central Senegal.

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Joal-Fadiouth is a city in the Cap Vert-Thies region on the western coast of Senegal.

Interesting places:

  • Joal Forest
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Kafountine is a coastal village in the Casamance region of Senegal.

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Palmarin is a rural community in Central Senegal. It is part of the Fatick administrative region.

Interesting places:

  • Salt Evaportation Pools
panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

Points of Interest in Senegal

With arid desert and lush rainforests, Senegal boasts a stunning array of sights, sounds and flavours.

  • Lac Rose owes its name to its pink colouring for swimming and is also the terminus of the Dakar rally.
  • Parc National du Niokolo-Noba is one of Senegal's major national parks and a international biosphere reserve.

Place Faidherbe - St. Louis

Ile de Goree Beach - Dakar

Grand Mosque of Touba - Touba

Bandia Animal Reserve - Mbour

Joal Forest - Mbodiene

Lac de Guiers - Richard-Toll

Salt Evaportation Pools - Palmarin

Samba Dia Forest - Ndangane

Niokolo-Koba National Park - Kedougou

Faidherbe Bridge - St. Louis

Presidential Palace - Dakar

African Renaissance Statue - Dakar

Dakar Grand Mosque - Dakar

IFAN Museum of African Arts - Dakar

Cheikh Anta Diop University - Dakar

Lompoul Desert - St. Louis

Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary - St. Louis

Saly Golf Club - Mbour

Guembeul Reserve - St. Louis

Lake Retba - Dakar

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners
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