Powerful European countries competed for the trade of Senegal, until France finally gained control over it in 1677. Traders dealt in wax, amber, gold, ivory, and also participated in the slave trade. In the 1850s slavery was abolished.
Senegal became independent from France on June 20, 1960 after long negotiations. Although officially Senegal gained independence on June 20, 1960 the holiday is celebrated on April 4.
Senegal has been held up as one of Africa’s model democracies. It has an established multi-party system and a tradition of civilian rule.
Although poverty is widespread and unemployment is high, the country has one of the region’s more stable economies.
For the Senegalese, political participation and peaceful leadership changes are not new. Even as a colony Senegal had representatives in the French parliament. And the promoter of African culture, Leopold Senghor, who became president at independence in 1960, voluntarily handed over power to Abdou Diouf in 1980.
Edited by Rita Murphy.
Photo credit: www.cdc.gov