Brief history of Senegal summarized
A brief tour of the history of Senegal.
The first humans in Senegal were hunters, but by 3,000 BC they had learned to farm. Around 500 BC the knowledge of how to make iron tools reached West Africa. Around AD 500, a sophisticated society capable of building stone circles arose in Senegal. Towns and trade flourished.
By the 13th century, the Mali Empire included much of West Africa, including Senegal. However, Mali’s power waned in the 15th century, and Senegal was divided into small kingdoms.
Meanwhile, Europeans were exploring the West African coast. The Portuguese landed at Cap Vert in 1544. The Portuguese began to trade with the Africans and their influence gradually grew.
At the beginning of the 16th century, the Portuguese settled in Brazil and needed slaves to work on the sugar plantations. So they started importing slaves from West Africa. Slavery was not new to Senegal, but the Portuguese took large numbers of slaves from the area. At the end of the 16th century, the English joined the slave trade.
In the early 17th century so did the Dutch and the French. The Dutch established a trading station on Ile de Goree in 1617. The French established a trading station in 1639, and in 1677 they took Ile de Goree from the Dutch.
During the 18th century the slave trade flourished. The Europeans persuaded the Africans on the coast to attack neighboring tribes and take captives. The captives were exchanged for products such as weapons and cloth. They were then shipped across the Atlantic in appalling conditions. However, the British outlawed the slave trade in 1807.
In the 19th century, the British became the power along the Gambia River, but the French pushed inland along the Senegal River. In 1884-85 the European powers divided Africa. France was confirmed as the colonial power in Senegal.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Senegal was a prosperous exporting colony of ground nuts. However, in the 1950s, demands for independence grew in Senegal. Finally, Senegal became independent on June 20, 1960.
At first, Senegal joined Mali, but the union was short-lived. Senegal became a separate nation on August 20, 1960. Leopold Senghor became the first leader. He introduced a new constitution in 1963. Senghor resigned in 1980. He was replaced by Abdou Diouf. Diouf, in turn, was president of Senegal until 2000. He was replaced by Abdoulaye Wade.
Today, Senegal is still a poor country. However, its economy is growing rapidly. Senegal has great tourism potential and is developing rapidly. Currently, the population of Senegal is 16 million inhabitants.
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