oa Africa Insight - Country profiles - Senegambia

Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



The Republic of Senegal, the most westerly state in Africa, has one of the most advanced of the economies of former French West Africa. When it achieved independence as a unitary state in August 1960, Senegal was already familiar with a limited form of democracy because of its special status as the oldest French foothold (since 1659) in Africa south of the Sahara. As the administrative capital of French West Africa, Dakar became an active centre of African politics. Political parties representing labour interests, Islamic sects, Marxist ideology, and business interests, came onto the local political scene in the years preceding independence. But it was the broadly-based socialist movement, led by Leopold Senghor, that led the country to independence. In April 1959 Senegal and French Soudan were joined in the Federation of Mali, which became independent on 20 June 1960. Senegal seceded on 20 August 1960 and Soudan became known as the Republic of Mali.

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