Senegal (French: Sénégal), officially the Republic of Senegal (French: République du Sénéga), is a country in West Africa . Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest .

Senegal also borders The Gambia, a country occupying a narrow sliver of land along the banks of the Gambia River, which separates Senegal's southern region of Casamance from the rest of the country . Senegal also shares a maritime border with Cape Verde . Senegal's economic and political capital is Dakar . It is the westernmost country in the mainland of the Old World, or Afro-Eurasia, and owes its name to the Senegal River, which borders it to the east and north. The name "Senegal" comes from the Wolof "Sunuu Gaal", which means "Our Boat" . Senegal covers a land area of almost 197,000 square kilometres (76,000 sq mi) and has an estimated population of about 15 million .

The climate is Sahelian, but there is a rainy season .

Senegal is located on the west of the African continent . It lies between latitudes 12° and 17°N, and longitudes 11° and 18°W .

Senegal is externally bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south; internally it almost completely surrounds The Gambia, namely on the north, east and south, except for Gambia's short Atlantic coastline .

The Senegalese landscape consists mainly of the rolling sandy plains of the western Sahel which rise to foothills in the southeast . Here is also found Senegal's highest point, an otherwise unnamed feature 2 . 8 km southeast of Nepen Diakha at 638 m (2,093 ft) . [36] The northern border is formed by the Senegal River; other rivers include the Gambia and Casamance Rivers . The capital Dakar lies on the Cap-Vert peninsula, the westernmost point of continental Africa .

The Cape Verde islands lie some 560 kilometres (350 mi) off the Senegalese coast, but Cap-Vert ("Cape Green") is a maritime placemark, set at the foot of "Les Mammelles", a 105-metre (344 ft) cliff resting at one end of the Cap-Vert peninsula onto which is settled Senegal's capital Dakar, and 1 kilometre (0 . 6 mi) south of the "Pointe des Almadies", the westernmost point in Africa .

The territory of modern Senegal has been inhabited by various ethnic groups since prehistory . Organized kingdoms emerged around the seventh century, and parts of the country were ruled by prominent regional empires such as the Jolof Empire . The present state of Senegal has its roots in European colonialism, which began during the mid-15th century, when various European powers began competing for trade in the area . The establishment of coastal trading posts gradually led to control of the mainland, culminating in French rule of the area by the 19th century, albeit amid much local resistance . Senegal peacefully attained independence from France in 1960, and has since been among the more politically stable countries in Africa .

Senegal's economy is centered mostly on commodities and natural resources . Major industries are fish processing, phosphate mining, fertilizer production, petroleum refining, construction materials, and ship construction and repair . As in most African nations, agriculture is a major sector, with Senegal producing several important cash crops, including peanuts, sugarcane, cotton, green beans, tomatoes, melons, and mangoes . Owing to its relative stability, tourism and hospitality are also burgeoning sectors .

A multiethnic and secular nation, Senegal is predominantly Sunni Muslim with Sufi and animist influences . French is the official language, although many native languages are spoken and recognized . Since April 2012 Senegal's president has been Macky Sall . Senegal has been a member of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie since 1970 .

Senegal is a republic with a presidency; the president is elected every five years as of 2001, previously being seven years, by adult voters . The first president, Léopold Sédar Senghor, was a poet and writer, and was the first African elected to the Académie française . Senegal's second president, Abdou Diouf, later served as general secretary of the Organisation de la Francophonie . The third president was Abdoulaye Wade, a lawyer . The current president is Macky Sall, elected in March 2012 .

Senegal has more than 80 political parties . The unicameral parliament consists of the National Assembly, which has 150 seats (a Senate was in place from 1999 to 2001 and 2007 to 2012) An independent judiciary also exists in Senegal. The nation's highest courts that deal with business issues are the constitutional council and the court of justice, members of which are named by the president .

French is the official language, spoken at least by all those who enjoyed several years in the educational system that is French origin .

Most people also speak their own ethnic language while, especially in Dakar, Wolof is the lingua franca . Pulaar is spoken by the Fulas and Toucouleur . The Serer language is widely spoken by both Serers and non-Serers (including President Sall, whose wife is Serer); so are the Cangin languages, whose speakers are ethnically Serers . Jola languages are widely spoken in the Casamance .

Owing to its relative stability, tourism and hospitality are also burgeoning sectors.

Contributors: Yasmina

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