Today's Senegal has been inhabited since
prehistoric times. In historical times several Wolofriks
were formed north of the Gambia River. Europeans came to
the area from the mid-1400s and began trading with, for
example, slaves. The Wolof kingdoms existed until France
took control of the area in the early 1800s. The
colonial federation of French West Africa, formed in
1895, a few years later got Dakar as its capital. The
country was relatively refreshed. After World War II the
demands for self-government grew. Senegal became
independent in 1960.
Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Senegal, covering history, economy, and social conditions.
Parts of the area that today make up Senegal were
periodically linked to the mighty kingdoms of Ghana,
Mali and Songhai. The three kingdoms replaced each other
between the 300s and 1500s and had their centers further
east, mainly in present-day Mali. At the same time,
local small kingdoms flourished.
In the Senegal River valley, around the 8th century,
the state of Tekrur was founded, which was mainly
populated by tukulas. The Wolof kingdoms lay to the
west. One of them, Djolof, succeeded in subjugating the
others in the 1300s. This united Wolofrike fell in the
16th century in the former kingdoms, which existed until
the conquest of the French in the 19th century. Both the
Tukulor and Wolof kingdoms were highly hierarchical. In
Casamance in the south, among others, the diola people
lived in more equal communities.
The slave trade becomes a major industry
The first Europeans to come to the coast of Senegal
were Portuguese sailors and traders. During the 16th
century Dutch, French and British were also attracted by
the trade in gold, rubber and ivory. But soon, human
trafficking became the most important. Slavery had
existed for a long time in Africa, but it was when
Europeans arrived that it developed into a major
industry. Europeans bought prisoners of war and slaves
by African rulers and millions of people were shipped
from West Africa to plantations in America. Even more
lost their lives in trade: in wars and slave raids,
during the long marches from inland to coast, and on the
journey across the Atlantic. The island of Gorée outside
Dakar was for several decades an important place of
shipping for slaves, until the French banned the slave
trade in 1848.
All the time, Europeans fought for strategic sites
along the coast, such as the Gorée and the city of
Saint-Louis at the mouth of the Senegal River. It was
not until 1814 that France took final control of the
area. Peanuts now began to be grown on a large scale and
during the second half of the 19th century the French
invaded the country during fierce battles with the local
At the Berlin Conference of 1884–1885, the Europeans
divided the African continent between themselves. Much
of western Africa was allocated to France and in 1895
the colonial federation was formed French West Africa,
with Dakar as the capital of 1902.
From colony to independent nation
Unlike British colonial policy, the French aimed to
eventually incorporate the colonies into the motherland,
as the population embraced French culture and lifestyle.
In practice, this so-called assimilation policy was not
at all consistent, but it was carried further in Senegal
than anywhere else in black Africa. The inhabitants of
the "four municipalities" - the island of Gorée and the
three largest cities - received basically the same civil
rights as the French and in 1914 Senegal was able to
send its first black delegate, Blaise Diagne, to the
An intellectual and political elite emerged while the
majority of the population was completely without
rights. After the Second World War, when many Senegalese
were forced to fight on the Allies' side, demands for
reform increased. The women in the four municipalities
gained voting rights in 1945, one year after the French
women, and in 1956 the voting rights were extended to
everyone in the colony.
After a referendum two years later, Senegal and most
other French colonies became autonomous republics within
the newly formed French Commonwealth. But the
commonwealth soon dissolved into independent states. On
April 4, 1959, Senegal merged with French Sudan (now
Mali) in the Mali Federation. On the day a year later,
an agreement was signed that led to full independence in
June 1960. Already in August of that year, the
federation collapsed and on September 5, the independent
Republic of Senegal was proclaimed with Léopold Sédar
Senghor as president.
The government and the MFDC agree on peace talks
The government and the separatist movement MFDC in Casamance agree on an
agenda and a time frame for future peace talks.
The Prime Minister is dismissed
President Sall dismisses Prime Minister Abdou Mbaye. The new head of
government will be Aminata Touré, thus leaving the post of Minister of Justice.
Aminata Touré has been a leader in the government's campaign against corruption
and has played a leading role in the legal process against Chad's former
dictator Hissène Habré.
The US President is visiting the country
US President Barack Obama visits Senegal. He praises the country as one of
the most stable democracies in the region, but criticizes its way of treating
gays. Homosexuality is illegal in Senegal and can result in the death penalty.
President Sall receives criticism for his decision-making
President Sall receives criticism - even from his own ranks - for having used
26 decrees as a whole, that is, making decisions without first anchoring them in
President Sall is trying to win financial support abroad
President Sall is trying to win financial support overseas for his economic
reforms for higher growth and lower unemployment. He visits Qatar, Gabon and the
G8 countries in Northern Ireland.
The Prime Minister is accused
Prime Minister Abdoul Mbaye is accused of handling the money, equivalent to $
3 million, that Habré illegally brought into Senegal in 1990 during his time as
Chad's former dictator is prosecuted
Habré is formally charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and
torture at a special AU tribunal in Dakar. Habré denies all charges.
Preparations for the trial are expected to take up to 15 months.
Chad's former dictator is removed
Chad's former dictator Hissène Habré (see December 2012) is led by police
from his house arrest in Dakar to an unknown location.
The former president is being prosecuted
Karim Wade is charged with embezzling over a billion dollars during his time
as Minister in 2000-2012. He is placed in custody without the possibility of
being released from bail. The son of the president is suspected of being linked
to a number of companies based in so-called tax havens, such as the British
At least four people are killed when the MFDC attacks a bank
At least four people, including most civilians, are killed in Casamance when
the MFDC attacks a bank in Kafountine.
32-year-old man dies in protest of presidential administration
A 32-year-old man dies as he sets fire to himself outside the presidential
palace. Suicide is a protest against President Sall's rule.