About Senegal

The Republic of Senegal, in West Africa, is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal nearly surrounds The Gambia. Mostly Muslim, Senegal has a young population of 16.1 million people, with about 61 percent age 24 or younger. The country comprises diverse ethnic and linguistic communities, the largest being the Wolof, Fula, Serer, Mandinka, Jola, and Soninka, who speak their namesake languages as well as the country’s official language, French. Dakar is the capital, home to 3.2 million people.

Senegal gained independence from France in 1960. It is one of the most stable democracies in the world and represents one of the more successful post-colonial democratic transitions in Africa. The country has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation. The main sources of employment and the driving forces of Senegal’s economy are mining, construction, tourism, fishing, and agriculture. Despite an economic growth rate of 7.2 percent, the high cost of electricity, an inefficient justice system, corruption, cumbersome bureaucratic systems, and a failing education sector present significant obstacles to Senegal’s economic development. Based on 2011 estimates, 47 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Senegal is classified as a heavily indebted poor country, with a relatively low human development index.

Despite its high poverty rates and low human development indicators, life expectancy continues to rise, nearing 68 years. Communicable and non-communicable diseases contribute the most to death in the country, including neonatal disorders, ischemic heart disease, lower respiratory infections, malaria, diarrheal diseases, stroke, tuberculosis, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, cirrhosis, congenital defects, HIV/AIDS, and meningitis. Between 2009 and 2019, mortality due to non-communicable diseases has increased on average, while mortality due to communicable diseases has decreased. The risk factors that contribute most to deaths and disabilities include malnutrition, air pollution, insufficient water and sanitation, high blood pressure, high fasting plasma glucose, high body-mass index, dietary risks, tobacco use, kidney dysfunction, and unsafe sex.

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