Driving Directions Senegal

SENEGAL is a former French colony in West Africa that extends from the most western point in Africa, Cape Verde, to the border with Mali. The Republic of Senegal consists mainly of a low-lying savannah plain with high­er ground only in the extreme southeast. The Fouta Djallon Mountains in the south rise to 1,515 meters or 4,971 feet. The River Senegal forms the northern boundary, and other rivers further south include the Gambia.

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Senegal has a hot, tropical climate. It is dry in the north but becomes progressively wetter towards the south.

Natural vegetation in the north of the country consists of Sahel savannah grassland with some thorny bushes and isolated trees.

Further south, with the greater amounts of rainfall, the vegetation becomes much lusher, and there are areas of dense tropical forest.

Wildlife is very diverse and includes large grazing mammals, monkeys, hippopotamus, reptiles, and many bird species. The most densely populated region is in the southwest.

Agriculture accounts for almost 80 percent of the workforce. Peanuts and cotton are grown for export, and millet, sugar cane, maize, rice, and sorghum as subsistence crops. Increased production of crops such as rice and tomatoes has been encouraged to achieve self-sufficiency in food.

The country’s economy is mainly dependent on peanuts, but there is a growing manufacturing sector, including food processing and cement, chemicals, and tinned tuna. Tourism is also expanding.

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Senegal is the westernmost part of a broad savannah extending across the Sahel. Most of the country lies upon a low sedimentary basin characterized by an expanse of flat and undulating plains with sparse grasses and woody shrubs. There are no significant natural landmarks or major elevation changes. Broken terrain and steep slopes are found only in the extreme southeast.

Extensive riverine areas have been converted to farmland, especially in the Siné and Saloum River basins; the lowlands between Thiès and Kaolack yield significant peanut and other food crops. Beyond these areas, most of the land has little potential except for pasturage. Volcanic action created the Cap-Vert promontory, the westernmost point in Africa, and the nearby islets. Senegal lies on the African Tectonic Plate.

The western coast of Senegal faces the North Atlantic Ocean. The North Atlantic provides Senegal with a great deal of rich fishing ground, a major component of Senegal’s economy. The goblin shark, an animal with a peculiarly shaped body of which little is known, is prevalent in Senegal’s ocean waters. There are many ports and harbors along the Atlantic coast, the largest of Dakar‘s capital city. Other harbors up and down the coast are Kaolack, Matam, Podor, Richard Toll, Saint-Louis, and Ziguinchor.

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There are two sites in Senegal that have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the Senegal River delta, the Djoudj Sanctuary is a wetland that serves as home to over one million birds, including the white pelican, the purple heron, the African spoonbill, the great egret, and the cormorant. Along the Gambia River banks, Niokolo-Koba National Park is a protected area home to the Derby eland (largest of the antelopes), chimpanzees, lions, leopards, and a large population of elephants, as well as many birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

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