A republic in western Africa on the coast of the Atlantic; formerly a French colony.
River in W Africa, formed by the confluence of the Bafing and Bakhoy rivers and flowing 1,125 km/700 mi NW and W to join the Atlantic Ocean near St Louis, Senegal. In 1968 the Organization of Riparian States of the River Senegal (Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, and Senegal) was formed to develop the river valley, including a dam for hydroelectric power and irrigation at Joina Falls in Mali; its headquarters is in Dakar. The river gives its name to the Republic of Senegal.Country in W Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean, bounded N by Mauritania, E by Mali, S by Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, and enclosing the Gambia on three sides.
The constitution of 1963, amended 1970, 1976, 1981, 1992, and 1993, provides for a single-chamber legislature, the 120-member national assembly, elected by universal suffrage for a five-year term. The president, also elected by universal suffrage, serves a seven-year term, renewable only once. The president appoints a prime minister to lead a council of ministers. Senegal's ten regions enjoy a high degree of autonomy, each having its own appointed governor and elected assembly and controlling a separate budget.
For early history, see Africa. Portuguese explorers arrived in the 15th century, and French settlers in the 17th. Senegal had a French governor from 1854, became part of French West Africa 1895, and a territory 1902.
Senegal became an independent republic Sept 1960, with Léopold Sédar Senghor, leader of the Senegalese Progressive Union (UPS), as its first president. Senghor was also prime minister 1962–70. The UPS was the only legal party from 1966 until in Dec 1976 it was reconstituted as the Senegalese Socialist Party (PS) and two opposition parties were legally registered. In 1978 Senghor was decisively reelected.
Senghor retired at the end of 1980 and was succeeded by Abdou Diouf, who declared an amnesty for political offenders and permitted more parties to register. In the 1983 elections the PS won 111 of the assembly seats and the main opposition, the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), eight seats. Later that year Diouf tightened control of his party and the government, abolishing the post of prime minister. This met open, sometimes violent, opposition, but he and the PS remained firmly in power.
In 1980 Senegal sent troops to the Gambia to protect it against a suspected Libyan invasion, and it intervened again 1981 to thwart an attempted coup. As the two countries came closer together, they agreed on an eventual merger, and the confederation of Senegambia came into being Feb 1982. Senegal maintained close links with France, allowing it to retain military bases. In the Feb 1988 elections Diouf was reelected president with 73% of the vote, but his ruling party had a slightly reduced majority in the national assembly. In April 1989 violent border disputes, with more than 450 people killed, led to a severance of diplomatic relations with neighboring Mauritania. Over 50,000 people were repatriated from both countries May 1989. In Aug 1989 formal recognition was given to the termination of the unsuccessful federation of Senegambia.
Constitutional changes were proposed 1991, including the reduction of the voting age from 21 to 18 and the limitation of the presidential mandate to two terms. Diplomatic relations with Mauritania were restored 1992. In March 1993 Diouf was reelected for a third and (under the revised constitution) final term. The ruling PS won the May 1993 assembly elections and a new cabinet was formed, with Habib Thiam as prime minister (the post having been reinstated 1992).