Senegal is a rather small West African country bordering the Atlantic, the Sahara, and the Sahel region. It has an estimated population of around 16 million people. The most populous city is its capital, Dakar, the only city whose population surpasses the 1-million mark. More than half of the state’s inhabitants live in rural areas, while the other 44 percent live in the cities. The fertility rate amounts to 4.84 children per woman, which makes Senegal one of the countries with the highest birth rates worldwide. Thus, the youth account for almost half of Senegal’s total population.
The Republic of Senegal was under French rule until April 1960, when merged as the Mali Federation with French Sudan. The union was short-lived and dissolved after a few months. In 1982, Senegal and The Gambia coupled to form Senegambia, a nominal confederation that, again, separated in 1989. Throughout history, Senegal was perceived as one of the stable nations in Africa, transitioning peacefully from each of the three political changes. Today, Senegal is a presidential republic structured into 14 administrative regions. The official language is French, but many native languages and dialects, such as Wolof or Pulaar, are widely spoken.
Widespread poverty, a low literacy rate, and a high unemployment rate are just some of the social problems that Senegal has to deal with. Economically speaking, the country's gross domestic product continues to grow at an accelerated rate, the year 2017 marking the third consecutive year with a growth rate above 6 percent. Senegal’s GDP itself is thus estimated to double between 2016 and 2022. The inflation rate remains low and despite high growth, cannot rise significantly pass the 2 percent core inflation rate in the near future.
Services represent an important sector in the Senegalese economy, accounting for nearly 60 percent of GDP generation. Additionally, the economy is also driven by mining, especially the production of phosphate rock, as well as tourism, and, since half of its inhabitants live in rural areas, agriculture. Senegal’s exports value did not change much in these past years, ranging from a value of 2 to 3 billion U.S. dollars of exported goods.
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