Early and pre-colonial eras
Senegal was populated in ancient periods, according to archeological discoveries, and has been continually colonized by different ethnic groups. Takrur was founded in the ninth century, followed by Namandiru and the Jolof Empire in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The Ghana Empire formerly included Eastern Senegal.
Islam was brought to the Maghreb via Toucouleur and Soninke’s interaction with the Almoravid dynasty, who then spread it. The Almoravids employed military force to convert their subjects, with the aid of Toucouleur allies. Traditional religious groups, particularly the Serers, fought against this development.
The region was influenced by empires to the east in the 13th and 14th centuries, and the Jolof Empire of Senegal was established during this period. Between 1300 and 1900, almost one-third of the population in the Senegambia area was enslaved, mostly as a consequence of prisoners captured in battle.
The Jolof Empire rose in strength in the 14th century, uniting Cayor with the kingdoms of Baol, Sine, Saloum, Waalo, Futa Tooro, and Bambouk. Rather than being based on military conquest, the empire was a consensual confederation of different nations. The empire was established by Ndiadiane Ndiaye, a Serer and Toucouleur who was able to make alliances with various ethnic groups, but it fell apart in 1549 when Lele Fouli Fak was defeated and killed by Amari Ngone Sobel Fall.
The Portuguese arrived on the Senegalese coast in the mid-15th century, followed by merchants from other nations, notably the French. From the 15th century onwards, several European powers—Portugal, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom—competed for commerce in the region. In 1677, France took possession of the island of Gorée, which was used as a base to buy slaves from the warring chiefdoms on the mainland and had become a minor departure point in the Atlantic slave traffic.
In the 19th century, European missionaries brought Christianity to Senegal and the Casamance. The French did not begin to advance into the Senegalese mainland until the 1850s, after abolishing slavery and promoting an abolitionist ideology, and adding local kingdoms like as the Waalo, Cayor, Baol, and Jolof Empire. Under Governor Louis Faidherbe, French colonists gradually attacked and conquered all of the kingdoms save Sine and Saloum. Lat-Dior, Damel of Cayor, and Maad a Sinig Kumba Ndoffene Famak Joof, the Maad a Sinig of Sine, led Senegalese opposition against French expansion and the curtailment of their profitable slave trade, culminating in the Battle of Logandème.
Senegal and the French Sudan united on April 4, 1959, to create the Mali Federation, which gained full independence on June 20, 1960, as a consequence of an independence and power transfer deal signed with France on April 4, 1960. The Federation was dissolved on August 20th, when Senegal and French Sudan (renamed the Republic of Mali) both declared independence due to internal political strife.
In September 1960, Senegal’s first president, Léopold Sédar Senghor, was sworn in. Senghor was a well-read guy who had received his education in France. He was a poet and philosopher who wrote “Pincez tous vos koras, frappez les balafons,” the Senegalese national song. He was pro-African and pushed for a kind of African socialism.
President Senghor chose to leave politics in 1980. He handed up control to Abdou Diouf, his hand-picked successor, the next year. Senghor’s opponent, former Prime Minister Mamadou Dia, stood for election against Diouf in 1983 but lost. Senghor eventually settled in France, where he died at the age of 96.
On February 1, 1982, Senegal and Gambia formed the notional Senegambia Confederation. The union, however, was disbanded in 1989. Despite peace negotiations, the Casamance dispute has seen occasional clashes between government troops and a southern separatist organization (the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance, or MFDC). The violence has decreased in the early twenty-first century, and President Macky Sall met with rebels in Rome in December 2012.
Between 1981 to 2000, Abdou Diouf served as president. He pushed for more political participation, decreased government intervention in the economy, and expanded Senegal’s diplomatic ties, especially with other developing countries. Street violence, border tensions, and a violent separatist movement in the Casamance’s southern area have all occurred as a result of domestic politics. Senegal’s dedication to democracy and human rights, however, has become stronger. Abdou Diouf was president for four times.
In the 1999 presidential election, opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade beat Diouf in an election that foreign observers judged free and fair. Senegal’s second peaceful transfer of power took place, this time from one political party to another. On December 30, 2004, President Wade stated that he will sign a peace deal with the Casamance separatist organization. However, this has not yet been implemented. A round of discussions was held in 2005, but no conclusion has yet been reached.