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June 2, 2009

Senegal, a Brief Country Profile & Prayer Guide


Senegal is located at Africa’s most western point between Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania, with another tiny country, The Gambia, almost entirely enclosed within it. Its name is said to have originated from the Wolof name for the dugout canoes used by fishermen. Today the brightly painted, specially designed pirogues are at the heart of one of Senegal’s main national sports, canoe racing, which takes place along various stretches of the coast. The dugouts are still used by fishermen who navigate the waters of the 250-mile long coastline in the age-old tradition that is the most common activity after farming.

Senegal’s modern capital city of Dakar is situated on the tip of the Cape Verde peninsula. It’s vibrant and full of local and international activity. Here you will find businessmen rubbing shoulders with tourists and traditionally dressed Senegalese amid the gleaming hotels, cafes, colorful open-air markets, and the medina (old quarter). Just two miles offshore lies Gorée, an island that was the most important slave depot in West Africa between the 16th and 19th centuries.

It’s possible to enjoy sunshine almost all year round on hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches, estuaries, mangrove swamps, savannah, and a semi-desert in the north. The Casamance region, a strip of land stretching from east to west across the country below The Gambia, boasts some of the most enjoyable beaches in West Africa. It is heavily visited by tourists due to its tropical splendor with lush forests, coconut palm groves, brilliant flame trees and bougainvillea, and warm waters brushing endlessly along the sandy beaches.

A few interesting facts about Senegal:
• The main industries include food processing, mining, cement, artificial fertilizer, chemicals, textiles, refining imported petroleum, and tourism. Exports include fish, chemicals, cotton, fabrics, groundnuts, and calcium phosphate, and the principal foreign market is India at 26.7 percent of exports (as of 1998). Other foreign markets include the US, Italy, and the UK.
• Over 11 million people call Senegal home. 70% live in rural areas while approximately 2.4 million people live in or near the capital of Dakar.
• The official language of Senegal is French, but nearly 44% of the population’s first language is Wolof.
• Senegal is a secular state with freedom of religion despite the large Muslim majority.

Specific ways to pray for the country of Senegal:

Praise God that Senegal allows freedom of religion. However, the task is great as 92% of the population adheres to Islam. It is the religion of almost all of the Wolof, Fulbe, and Mande peoples. Pray for new receptivity to the gospel message and the continued preservation of religious freedom. (Continue reading…)