October 14, 2022

Dakar, the magic city – Desk research in Senegal

Senegal, or the Republic of Senegal, is a West African country. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south. Gambia forms a quasi-enclave in Senegal, penetrating more than 300 km inland. The islands of Cape Verde are located 560 km from the Senegalese coast. Dakar is the capital and largest city of Senegal. Macky Sall has been the President of the Republic since April 2nd, 2012.


With an area of 196 712 square km, and a population of approximately 17.196.308 in 2021, Senegal is the 25th smallest country in Africa. The country is divided Senegal is divided into fourteen regions as the highest administrative structure. These regions are managed by the regional council, which is elected by general election. These regions are divided into 45 departments. The most populated regions are Dakar (3 938 358 hab.), Thiès (2 221 097 hab.), Diourbel (1 919 090 hab.) and Kaolack  (1 228 746 hab.). At the start of 2022, 49.1 percent of Senegal’s population lived in urban centres, while 50.9 percent lived in rural areas. The median age of population in Senegal is 18.8.

The population of Senegal has been growing at a rate that is higher than the world average but is comparable to other countries in the region. Life expectancy figures for Senegal are among the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. The population is heavily weighted toward the young, as are most African populations, with more than two-fifths under 15 years of age.

There are various ethnic groups in Senegal, none of which forms the ethnic majority in the country. Many subgroups of those can be further distinguished, based on religion, location and language. These ethnic groups live in harmony on a moderately extended territory with disparities of settlement according to the regions. Some ethnic groups are subdivided into several subgroups.

Geography & climate

Senegal is divided into five geographic areas, which are inhabited by various ethnic groups. Ferlo, the north-central area of Senegal, is distinguished by its semi-desert environment and by its poor soils. Vegetation appears only in the south, the north consisting of the Sahelian type of savanna parkland. Fouta is centered on the Senegal River and extends approximately from Bakel in the east to Dagana in the north. It consists of a strip of territory that is relatively densely inhabited. Watered by the river and its tributaries in the dry season, this area is conducive to highly developed agricultural and pastoral use of the soils and vegetation. The diverse area situated between Ferlo and the Atlantic and extending from the False Delta in the north to Cape Verde Peninsula in the south was once home to the historical Wolof states of Dianbour, Cayor, Djolof, and Baol. Here the soils are sandy and the winters cool; peanuts are the primary crop. The Sudan area is bounded by Cape Verde to the northwest, Ferlo to the north, and the lower Casamance valley to the southwest. In general, the area benefits from ample rainfall, which becomes abundant toward the south. It is suitable for agriculture and, as a result, is relatively densely populated. Finally, the lower Casamance area is covered by dense vegetation of the Guinean type. The predominant ethnic groups are the Diola and the Mandinka.

Culture & religion

Senegal is a multilingual country. Ethnologists lists 36 languages, Wolof being the most widely spoken language and French being the official language of Senegal.

Religion and beliefs occupy an important place in the daily life of the nation of Senegal. Although predominantly Muslim, Senegal is a tolerant secular state, whose peoples have lived together peacefully for several generations and have intermingled to some extent.

Collectivism is central to traditional Senegalese culture, which remains very much alive. Rites and initiations are actively practiced in rural areas—for example, by the Basari of Kédougou. Among Muslims, youths must be circumcised before being accorded the responsibilities of manhood. Even though the constitution prohibits discrimination by sex, traditional religious beliefs in many parts of the country prohibit women from inheriting land, and society generally recognizes men as the heads of households.

Immigration & Foreign population

Historically, Senegal was a destination country for economic migrants of diverse origins, but in recent years West African migrants more often use Senegal as a transit point to North Africa – and sometimes illegally onward to Europe. This immigration remains dominated by neighboring countries, and in particular Guinea (43%), Mali (10%), The Gambia (7%) and Guinea-Bissau (6%) 4. These four countries represent 66% of the foreign population established in Senegal.

The country also has been host to several thousand black Mauritanian refugees since they were expelled from their homeland during its 1989 border conflict with Senegal.

Media & Telecom

Senegal has traditionally had one of the most unrestricted and diverse media scenes in the region. The constitution guarantees freedom of information and abuses against journalists are relatively infrequent according to Reporters Without Borders. But some subjects remain off limits for reporters.

There were 8.01 million internet users in Senegal in January 2022. Senegal’s internet penetration rate stood at 46 percent of the total population at the start of 2022. The median mobile internet connection speed via cellular networks is 17.86 Mbps, while the median fixed internet connection speed is 20.71 Mbps. At the start of 2022, there were 20.24 million cellular mobile connections in Senegal


Western education has existed in Senegal since the 19th century; its first goal was to train the Senegalese in French culture and to help with colonial administration. Since independence Senegal has made particular efforts to increase school enrollment in rural areas, although with limited success; the literacy rate remains one of the lowest in the world.

Among the secondary schools, the Faidherbe Lycée at Saint-Louis and the Van Vollenhoven Lycée at Dakar are the oldest and most renowned. Technical education is expanding and is provided by institutions in Dakar, Saint-Louis, Diourbel, Kaolack, and Louga.

The Senegalese education sector is divided into four levels, of which two are mandatory. Despite progress in increasing educational access for many of Senegal’s children, there are still significant challenges in offering a quality education. Low quality and inequitable service delivery have left youth lacking in opportunity and essential life skills.

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Senegal, or the Republic of Senegal, is a West African country.
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