Senegal is one of the few countries in the world with evidence of continuous human life from the Paleolithic period to present. Between the 14th and 16th centuries, the Jolof Empire ruled most of Senegal. Starting in the 15th century, Portugal, the Netherlands, France, and Great Britain traded along the Senegalese coast. Senegal’s location on the western tip of Africa made it a favorable base for the European slave trade. European powers used the Senegalese island of Goree as a base to purchase slaves from the warring chiefdoms on the mainland, and at the height of the slave trade in Senegal, over one-third of the Senegalese population was enslaved. In 1815, France abolished slavery and began expanding inland. During the second half of the 19th century, France took possession of Senegal as a French colony. In 1959, the French colonies of Senegal and French Sudan were merged and granted independence in 1960 as the Mali Federation. The union broke up after only a few months. In 1982, Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia. The envisaged integration of the two countries was never implemented, and the union dissolved in 1989.
Since the 1980s, the Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance - a separatist movement based in southern Senegal - has led a low-level insurgency. Several attempts at reaching a comprehensive peace agreement have failed. Since 2012, despite sporadic incidents of violence, an unofficial cease-fire has remained largely in effect. Senegal is one of the most stable democracies in Africa and has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation. The Socialist Party of Senegal ruled for 40 years until Abdoulaye WADE was elected president in 2000 and re-elected in 2007. WADE amended Senegal's constitution over a dozen times to increase executive power and weaken the opposition. In 2012, WADE’s decision to run for a third presidential term sparked public backlash that led to his defeat to current President Macky SALL. A 2016 constitutional referendum limited future presidents to two consecutive five-year terms. The change, however, does not apply to SALL's first term. In February 2019, SALL won his bid for reelection; his second term will end in 2024.
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NOTE: The information regarding Senegal on this page is re-published from the 2023 World Fact Book of the United States Central Intelligence Agency and other sources. No claims are made regarding the accuracy of Senegal 2023 information contained here. All suggestions for corrections of any errors about Senegal 2023 should be addressed to the CIA or the source cited on each page.
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