“The French colonies of Senegal and the French Sudan were merged in 1959 and granted their independence as the Mali Federation in 1960. The union broke up after only a few months. Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia in 1982. The envisaged integration of the two countries was never carried out, and the union was dissolved in 1989. The Movement of Democratic Forces in the Casamance (MFDC) has led a low-level separatist insurgency in southern Senegal since the 1980s, and several peace deals have failed to resolve the conflict. Nevertheless, Senegal remains one of the most stable democracies in Africa and has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping and regional mediation. Senegal was ruled by a Socialist Party for 40 years until Abdoulaye Wade was elected president in 2000. He was reelected in 2007 and during his two terms amended Senegal’s constitution over a dozen times to increase executive power and to weaken the opposition. His attempt to change the constitution in June 2011 prompted large public protests and his decision to run for a third presidential term sparked a large public backlash that led to his defeat in a March 2012 runoff election with Macky Sall.
“Senegal relies heavily on donor assistance. The country’s key export industries are phosphate mining, fertilizer production, and commercial fishing. The country is also working on iron ore and oil exploration projects. In January 1994, Senegal undertook a bold and ambitious economic reform program with the support of the international donor community. Government price controls and subsidies have been steadily dismantled. After seeing its economy contract by 2.1% in 1993, Senegal made an important turnaround, thanks to the reform program, with real growth in GDP averaging over 5% annually during 1995-2007. Annual inflation had been pushed down to the single digits. The country was adversely affected by the global economic downturn in 2009, when GDP growth fell to 2.2%. As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union, Senegal is working toward greater regional integration with a unified external tariff and a more stable monetary policy. High unemployment, however, continues to prompt migrants to flee Senegal in search of better job opportunities in Europe. Under the IMF”s Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief program, Senegal benefited from eradication of two-thirds of its bilateral, multilateral, and private-sector debt. In 2007, Senegal and the IMF agreed to a new, non-disbursing, Policy Support Initiative program which was completed in 2010. The IMF approved a new three-year policy support instrument in December 2010 to assist with economic reforms. Senegal receives disbursements from the $540 million Millennium Challenge Account compact it signed in September 2009 for infrastructure and agriculture development. In 2010, the Senegalese people protested against frequent power cuts. The government pledged to expand power capacity by 2012 and to promote renewable energy, but until Senegal has more capacity, more protests are likely. Foreign investment in Senegal is retarded by Senegal”s unfriendly business environment.”
(Source: CIA World Fact Book)