Senegal at a glance

Location The westernmost country in mainland Africa, 1,600km north of the Equator

Neighbouring countries Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia

Land area 196,772 km2 (about 1.5 times the size of England and half the size of California)

Climate Hot and humid, cooler on the coast and considerably hotter inland. Rainy season from May to November, with dry, harmattan conditions prevailing from December to April.

Terrain Mostly expansive rolling plains that eventually give way to the Fouta Djalon foothills in the extreme southeast, where the unnamed highest point (581m) is found southwest of Kédougou. The central north consists of semi-desert Sahelian savannah, central regions are primarily given over to agriculture, and the well watered and densely vegetated river deltas in Casamance and Sine-Saloum are the greenest areas anywhere in the country.

Status Multi-party republic

Population 15.2 million (2017 estimate)

Life expectancy 62

Capital Dakar (population 3.5 million including Pikine, Rufisque and other suburbs)

Other main towns Touba-Mbacké (880,000), Thiès (318,000), Kaolack (234,000), Mbour (233,000)

Economy Predominantly subsistence agriculture, although this is changing as exploitation of mineral resources increases.

GDP US$2,700 per capita (PPP) (2017); 6.8% annual growth (2017)

Languages 38 languages spoken overall. French is the language of government and schooling but is only mother tongue to a small percentage of Senegalese. Wolof is the most widely spoken indigenous language and acts, along with French, as a lingua franca throughout the country, while Wolof, Serer, Diola, Pulaar, Soninke and Mandinka are all recognised as ‘national’ languages.

Religion Islam, with most following one of the four major Sufi brotherhoods present: Tijāniyyah, Mouride, Qadriyya or Layene (94%); Christianity, primarily Catholic (5%); traditional/Animist beliefs (1%)

Currency West African CFA Franc (shared with Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger and Togo)

Exchange rate £1 = 898F; US$1 = 575; €1 = 656F (September 2015)

National airline Air Senegal 

International telephone code +221

Time GMT +0

Electrical voltage 220V, 50Hz

Weights and measures Metric

Flag Three vertical bands: from hoist, green, yellow, and red, with a five-pointed green star in the centre of the yellow band.

National anthem Pincez Tous vos Koras, Frappez les Balafons (Pluck your koras, strike the balafons)

Public holidays Senegal officially celebrates a mix of 12 Islamic, Christian and secular public holidays.

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