A Hospitable Land
Cuddled by a dry tropical climate, Senegal has just two seasons- the dry season, extending from November to May and marked by heat, which intensifies as one travels from west to east, and the rainy season, which runs from June to October.
The freshest season extends from November through May, when the Cap-Vert Peninsula is constantly swept by trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean. This softens the effect of the "harmattan", a hot and dry wind coming from the northeast.
Average temperatures vary from 24° to 30° Celsius
Dakar: Max. is 30° C in September, 17°C min. In January;
Saint-Louis: Max. is 30.8°C in September, 17°C min. in January;
Ziguinchor: Max. is 30°C in April, 19°C min. in January;
Tambacounda: Max. is 40,6°C in April; 17°C min. in January.
Senegal has three types of vegetation: Forest in the south, savanna in the central region and steppe in the north. The northeastern and central region of Senegal have a sahelian-type vegetation characterized by steppe and savanna, largely influenced by a relatively abundant rainfall. The southern region contrasts greatly with the rest of the country, as it enjoys a more intense rainy season and offers vegetation where the savanna turns into forest.
Three rivers cross the country: the Senegal River (1 700 km long), which flows from south-east to north-west, the Gambia River (750 km); and the Casamance River (300 km). The two latter traverse the southeastern zone.
A Warm and Hospitable People
"Senegalese teranga" is often translated as "hospitality", but its true sense is expressed by the Senegalese people’s way of welcoming guests that conveys their pleasure in receiving at home.
Senegal’s last census was taken in 1996 when the population was estimated at 8,572,004 inhabitants. Senegal population was estimated at 9,280,783 in 1999, presently in the year 2001, it is estimated approximately at 10,500,000 inhabitants.
The Senegalese population is characterized in particular by:
A very high growth rate of about 2.7% per year;
A very young population: about 58% of the population is less than 20 years old;
Still weak urbanization trend: 42% of Senegalese live in towns. The City of Dakar and its suburbs are home to some 3,000,000 beings (2,244,682 in 1999).
Population density: approx. 44 hab/km²
Great ethnic diversity.
POPULATION DISTRIBUTION (1999)
Source: Situation Economique et Sociale du sénégal (Direction de la Prévision et de la Statistique)
The Senegalese population consists of several ethnic groups. The Wolof, located chiefly in the Cap-Vert and Diourbel Regions, are the largest group.
Senegal is home to a large foreign community, which is chiefly concentrated in the big towns. This includes people from neighbouring countries (Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, etc….).
A strong Syrian-Lebanese community has been present for several generations, consisting mainly of merchants. The lion’s share of the European community consists of the French and of diplomats from other nations, almost all who reside in Dakar.
French is the official language used in business and teaching establishments. Wolof is the traditional language spoken by the majority of Senegalese. Conveniently, it is the lingua franca, heard even into the Gambia. Five other national languages are often heard as well: Diola, Mandingo, Serere, Pulaar and Sarakhole (Soninke). Additionally, the teaching of Arabic is developing steadily through Koran schools, but also due to the strong presence of Islamic countries’representational offices. English is widely spoken by educated people both in the administration and for business
Senegal is a secular country embracing all religions. Islam is the predominant religion, practiced by 90% of Senegalese. Most of the Moslem population belong to five brotherhoods: Mouride, Tidjane, Khadir, Layenne and Niasséne. They cohabit freely with Christians (mainly Catholic and Protestant) and those practicing the traditional religions. More often than not, one can find blood-related persons in different religious affiliations.
Senegal is a secular state, independent since 1960. Its constitution was institutionalized on 7 March 1963. The President of the Republic is elected by universal suffrage for a mandate that can be renewed once and which was brought from 7 to 5 years in 2001.
Senegal’s first president was Mr. Leopold Sedar Senghor, who exercised his power until 31 December 1981, at which time he voluntarily stepped down on behalf of his successor, Mr. Abdou Diouf, who was his Prime Minister at the time. Mr. Diouf was reelected in 1983 and 1988 and after his third mandate, which began in 1993, he was defeated by the current President, Mr. Abdoulaye Wade in March 2000.
For the past 40 years, Senegal has experienced a political stability to be envied. In fact, it is the first African country over 22 years ago to set up a multiparty system backed by a free increasingly diversified press.
At the last legislative elections held in April 2001, 25 political parties were represented.
The political climate of national and social unity has remained calm, except perhaps in the Casamance region, where there is some disturbance due to activities of the separatist movement, the MFDC (Movement of the Democratic Forces of the Casamance). Recently a cease-fire has been signed between the Senegalese government and MFDC.
The President of the Republic is head of the Executive Branch. He directs and guides the Administration. He designates the Prime Minister and sets government policy.
The National Assembly or Parliament is comprised of 120 Deputies who are elected for 5 years.
Senegal has inherited a great deal from French administrative structures. Today it is the only country in West Africa to possess a strong diversified administrative culture. The following administrative levels have been established here:
In terms of administrative organization, Senegal is divided into 10 regions, 30 departments and 320 arrondissements. Regions are headed by governors, Departments by prefects and Arrondissements (districts) by sub prefects.
Since its rise to international sovereignty, Senegal has opted for a gradual, cautious decentralization policy. This political policy, aimed to meet the country’s economic development demands, has resulted in the creation of regions composed of community- based groups. The three levels of local organization are the region, the commune and the community. Thus, Senegal is divided into 10 regions, 48 communes and 320 communities (the first division pertains to administration where are discharged by appointed civil servants (fonctionnaires) whereas the second division concerns local elects).
Le Mensonge peut courir un an, la vérité le rattrape en un jour, dit le sage Haoussa
se SURPASSER ,ne JAMAIS ABDIQUER,TOUJOURS RESTER HUMBLE