The one minute summary on
This is it: one minute to the best info on Senegal. This info alone will put you ahead of 99% of foreigners visiting Senegal, garner the admiration of the locals who will instantly want to be your friends, and the envy of your fellow travelers. Read on. You’ll make friends faster that way, become a traveler instead of simply being a tourist, and also enjoy your travels a lot more.
The French colonies of Senegal and the French Sudan were merged in 1959 and granted their independence as the Mali Federation in 1960. The union broke up after only a few months. Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia in 1982. The envisaged integration of the two countries was never carried out, and the union was dissolved in 1989.
The Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance (MFDC) has led a low-level separatist insurgency in southern Senegal since the 1980s, and several peace deals have failed to resolve the conflict. Nevertheless, Senegal remains one of the most stable democracies in Africa and has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation. Senegal was ruled by a Socialist Party for 40 years until Abdoulaye WADE was elected president in 2000. He was reelected in 2007 and during his two terms amended Senegal’s constitution over a dozen times to increase executive power and to weaken the opposition. His decision to run for a third presidential term sparked a large public backlash that led to his defeat in a March 2012 runoff election with Macky SALL.
That was it. I promised one minute.
For other condensed info check also my other posts on local culture (don’t make the mistakes I made), local food or local drinks. And when you call your friends to tell them you were by far the most knowledgeable at the party, do that with confidence that you’ll not get hit with a 6.99 per minute bill. You’ll also pick the local food from the tray, and order a local drink with confidence.
- Cultural Mistakes To Avoid in Senegal
- Does my current phone work in Senegal ? Tips to cell phone usage in Senegal
- Local food you should try in Senegal and No miss drinks in Senegal
Now, cheers to the most Senegal aware person at the cocktail party.
What are the key history moments for Senegal?
Prehistory and Ancient Kingdoms The earliest known human settlement in Senegal existed over 350,000 years ago. The Stone Circles of Senegambia (now World Heritage Sites) are believed to date back to 3 BC. Not a lot is known about the earliest civilizations, but there were many paleolithic and neolithic civilizations around the Senegal River. The Tekrur Kingdom (Tekrour), formed around the Senegal River in Futa Toro (Fouta Toro), is one of the earliest recorded kingdoms. Although the exact formation date is unknown, historians believe it began in the early 9th century, around the same time as the Ghana Empire formed in the east. Parts of eastern Senegal were ruled by the Ghana Empire as it expanded but Tekrur was more concentrated in Senegal(although the southern regions were inhabited by ancestors of the Wolof). It was during Tekrur rule that Islam came to Senegal in the 11th century from the Almoravids in the North.
The Tekrur rulers first converted to Islam and most of the kingdom followed soon after. After the Almoravids attacked the Ghanaian Empire, it slowly lost power and influence, giving rise to the Mali Empire in 1235. The Wolof Empire (Djolof) was formed in the 13th century from many smaller states to the south of Tekrur as a tributary state of the Mali Empire. Unlike their northern neighbors, they were not converted to Islam; they were animists. The Tekrur Kingdom was weak by this time, so the rising Wolof and Mali Empires excised heavy influence over them (The Mali Empire also considered Tekrur to be a tributary state).
The Wolof Empire obtained full independence from Mali in 1360 with its capital at Linguère and overtook territories to the south around the Gambia and established many groups as vassals, such as the Sine Kingdom in 1400. The Wolof Empire became quite powerful and at the height of its rule saw the arrival of the Portuguese. Portuguese Arrival and Fall of Wolof Empire The Portuguese were the first Europeans to arrive in Senegal at Goree Island in 1444. They were searching for a new spice route to India but soon established ports in Goree and on the Cap-Vert Peninsula (present-day Dakar).
The Wolof and Portuguese established trade relations, providing wealth to the empire. Europeans payed good money for war captives (which they sent off as slaves), and the natives were able to bring the slaves to them so that they didn’t have to go inland. Senegal was one of the most profitable ports early on in the slave trading business and the strong Wolof were able to sell many captives from weaker regions. Their tributary, the Sine Kingdom, was also quite actively involved in selling captives to the Portuguese.
Members of the Waalo Kingdom (a Wolof vassal state) were commonly the victims of captive raids. Sometimes the Europeans incited wars in order to ensure more captives while in other cases, the money they payed was enough incentive for natives to start conflicts just to produce slaves. While profits were great in the beginning, the Atlantic slave trade soon crippled the empire as the Cayor Kingdom separated from the Wolof in 1549 and the Sine Kingdom became independent in 1550, cutting the Wolof off from the coast and from trade and business with the Portuguese. Along with internal problems, the Wolof were also plagued by outside problems.
As a former tributary state of the Mali Empire, the Wolof maintained strong ties with Mali through trade with the empire, but as the Songhai grew stronger, they seized much of Mali’s territory, further isolating the Wolof. Furthermore, the Denianke Kingdom (Denanke) had taken over territories to the north, including Takrur, and had attacked the Wolof’s northern territories, which they struggled to maintain. By 1600, the Wolof Empire had completely disbanded, although one of the territories remained a Wolof state. French Conquest The location and success of trade in Senegal made it a hot commodity among Europeans.
The Portuguese, British, French, and Dutch all wanted the territory, particulary Goree Island. In 1588 the Dutch were able to successfully overtake the Portuguese and expanded trade. France established its first post in Saint-Louis. The Dutch and French were both keen to take control of the other’s territory and fears of the growing powers of the Dutch Republic came to a head in the Franco-Dutch War. The war actually took place in Europe, but while the Dutch defended their homeland, the French attacked Goree Island and ousted the Dutch from Senegal, claiming it for France in 1677.
Territories on the mainland were taken from and returned to France by the British. When the British took the territory during the Napoleonic War, they abolished slavery in 1807 and upon its return to France, the French agreed to uphold it, so slave trade in Senegal fell sharply during the 19th century but its rich resources were still in demand and the French soon went inland to claim the territory. During the time Europe was fighting over the coastal settlements, the Senegalese still had control of the land.
The Waalo Kingdom existed around the Saint-Louis trading post, so they had a treaty with the French in which the French would pay them for goods and they would provide protection for the traders. When French ambitions turned to colonisation, they started by conquering their Waalo allies in 1855. Around the same time, the Toucouleur Empire had conquered the Futa Toro, which formed out of an Islamic Revolution among citizens in the Denianke Kingdom in 1776 who were tired of being persecuted.
The Toucouleur unsuccessfully tried to drive out the French in 1857, and the Trarza from Mauritania who supported the Senegalese kingdoms were also threatening French advancement. The French built a series of forts along the coast and river, and the Trarza were told they would not be attacked as long as they stayed north of the Senegal River and they did, which allowed France to establish greater control over northern Senegal.
The construction of the Dakar-Niger Railway made it much easier to maintain control of the region and Senegal was in French control by 1895 and officially became part of French West Africa in 1904. French Senegal to Independence The French created the Grand Council of French West Africa to oversee the territories and only French citizens and citizens of the Four Communes in Senegal were able to become members. The colonized people were only considered to be French subjects, so they were prevented from gaining power however, in 1914 Blaise Diagne was able to prove he was born in one of the communes (Saint-Louis) and became the first black man elected to oversee the colonies.
He then passed a law to allow citizens of Dakar, Saint-Louis, Rufisque, and Goree to vote in French elections and he sent many West Africans to aid France in WWI. Senegal and French Sudan (modern Mali) joined to form the Mali Federation in 1959. The following year, France agreed to give them independence and on June 20, 1960, it officially gained independence from France. Senegal soon defected from the Mali Federation and became an independent state in August 1960. Senegal briefly joined the Gambia to form the confederation of Senegambia in 1982 but they separated in 1989. Issues with separatists in the southern Casamance region of Senegal have occurred since the 1980s, but a treaty was signed in 2004 that has been upheld to this day. Senegal is often praised for its incorporation of all its ethnic and religious groups into a peaceful society.
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