Introduction of Senegal-River
River, approximately 1,000 mi long. It is formed inMali by the confluence of the Bafing and Bakoy rivers,which rise in the Fouta Djallon, a highland regionof Guinea. The river flows north, then west, formingthe border between Senegal and Mauritania. Itenters the Atlantic Ocean at Saint-Louis, Senegal.The Tukolor people settled in the Senegal valley inthe ninth century and between the 10th and 14thcenturies ruled the strong state of Tekrur. They wereconquered by the Mali Empire in the 14th century.Portuguese explorers reached the mouth of the riverin 1444-45. They established a trading post and usedthe river as a trade route, exchanging cloth and metalgoods for gold dust, gum arabic, ivory, and slaves.The French displaced the Portuguese in 1638 and in1698 established St. Joseph de Galam, a post 400miles upstream. Kayes, in western Mali, is an administrativeand business center at the upper limit ofnavigation.A republic of West Africa bordered by the AtlanticOcean on the W, Mali on the E, Mauritania on theN, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau on the S.Senegal was formerly the center of French WestAfrica, and its capital city of Dakar was the commercialand administrative hub of the French Africanempire.The first Europeans to reach the region were thePortuguese, who in the mid-15th century establishedseveral factories here, as did the French in 1638 and then briefly the Dutch. The British captured the thenFrench posts during the Seven Years' War of 1759 to1763, and again during the Napoleonic Wars. Frenchinfluence steadily increased, until Senegal officiallybecame a colony in 1895.In 1945 Senegal became a republic within theFrench Community, led by President Leopold Senghor.A brief union with the Sudanese Republic asthe Federation of Mali lasted from 1959 to 1960,after which Senegal became an independent state.Senghor continued to be the dominant figure in thecountry and maintained close ties with France. Healso kept a tight rein on internal politics. Its economy,resting almost entirely on peanut production, wasdevastated by the great sub-Saharan drought of 1973;and many thousand s died from starvation. Senegaltried to diversify its agricultural output with U.S.assistance. In 1979 ground was broken for a threenation,$550 million project to harness the SenegalRiver for power and irrigation, in an attempt to providea long-term solution to the country's continuingeconomic problems. In 1981, Senghor, who remainedhead of the Socialist Party, yielded the presidency toAbdou Diouf and Senegal joined with Gambia toform the new nation of Senegambia. This confederationwas dissolved in 1989. Diouf was reelected in1988 and 1993, but was defeated in a runoff electionby Abdoulaye Wade of the Senegalese DemocraticParty in 2000. From 2000 through 2004, a separatistmovement in Casamance in the south part of thecountry below the Gambia has been in armed revolt.