map of Senegallocator map of Senegal

Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa. It owes its name to the Sngal River that borders it to the east and north. Senegal is externally bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau; internally it almost completely surrounds the Gambia, namely on the north, east and south, except for Gambia's short Atlantic coastline.

In medieval times, parts of Senegal belonged to the empires of Mali, Ghana and Songhai. The first Portuguese explorers arrived in the 15th century, followed by French colonists in the 17th century. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, the Senegalese coast was a major landing point for the transatlantic and European trades in ivory, gold and slaves. In 1763, Senegal was ceded to Britain as part of the settlement of the Seven Years War, but returned to the French in 1817. In 1895, Senegal was incorporated into French West Africa. After World War II, it was back to French West Africa again.

On 4 April 1959 Senegal and the French Sudan merged to form the Mali Federation, which became fully independent on 20 June 1960. Due to internal political difficulties, the Federation broke up on 20 August, when Senegal and French Sudan (renamed the Republic of Mali) proclaimed independence.