The past few days since accepting my invitation, I’ve been knee deep in paperwork preparing for service. Within the first 30 days of accepting my invite I’ve been given various tasks to complete including passport and visa applications, background checks, and other vital information needed before one departs for 2 year service abroad. I can happily say I’ve completed everything on the legal side of pre-service preparation and that is a major relief! The next step is waiting to begin medical clearance, which usually begins about 6 months out. Until then I suppose I will acquire some French skills and continue learning more about Senegal, my job description, and vigorously studying packing lists.
With that said, I will share some of the basic geographic and political information I’ve learned about Senegal that is beneficial to me and possibly to my readers as well if you are interested:
Republique du Senegal
- Located on the west coast of the African continent
- Approximately 196,722 sq km (slightly smaller than South Dakota)
- Senegal almost completely surrounds Gambia (save for the western coast on the Atlantic) making Gambia a semi-enclave
- Senegal’s population as of 2016 is 14, 320,066
- Languages of Senegal are French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Jola, and Mandinka
- Religion: 95.4% Muslim, Christian 4.2%, and Animist .4%
- Senegal gained independence from France in 1960 along with French Sudan (Mali) to create the Mali Federation.
- Later that year the Federation broke up when Senegal and the then French Sudan both proclaimed independence.
- Senegal’s government is a semi-presidential democratic republic with an executive branch, legislative branch, and judicial branch
- Senegal has a President, elected to a 5 year term (head of state) and a Prime Minister (Head of Government)
- The current President is Macky Sall of the Senegalese Democratic Party (PDS), The Prime Minister is Mohammed Dionne
- The legislative branch is composed of a unicameral legislative body via the National Assembly
- The National Assembly is composed of 150 members of parliament elected to 5 year terms under a multi-party system
- MPs represent multi-seat constituencies in the 14 regions of the country (interestingly enough, there used to be a Senate but it was abolished to save the nation money)
- Senegal prospers from a healthy democratic system that has enjoyed successful democratic peaceful power transitions since it’s independence
- Senegal is one of the few African countries that has not had a coup d’état or a dictatorship making it one of the most stable democratic countries with low amounts of corruption in Africa and the developing world.
I think that should do for now. This post is sort of dry unless you’re into comparative politics. The next post might be more interesting as I will try to go into detail on the Peace Corps’ mission in Senegal and what exactly a Sustainable Agriculture Agent will be doing for 2 years.
Peace Corps Senegal Welcome Book