Senegal Population, Main Cities and Geography

By | January 27, 2023

Senegal: population and cities



According to Countryaah website, approximately 16 million people live in Senegal, around 60% of whom are under 20 years of age. The life expectancy of women is 53 years, that of men 58 years. Due to the annual population growth of around 2%, the country’s population has doubled over the past twenty years. However, infant mortality is very high (77 out of 100 live births). While half of the Senegalese live in rural regions, the majority of the Senegalese have settled on the west coast and in particular in Dakar, the country’s capital. Large groups live as nomads.

Ethnic groups

The most strongly represented ethnic group with around 40% are the Wolof, who mainly live in the north-west of Senegal. They have been able to maintain their own culture and almost all of them profess Islam. Other groups are the Lebu on the Cape Verdean coast, the peasant people of the Serer, the Toucouleur, who also live on the farm, the (semi) nomadic Fulbe and the predominantly Christian Diola, rice farmers from the south of the country. Finally there are the Mandinka, the Bambara and the Soninke, i.e. ethnic groups that have connections primarily to Mali. In addition to the groups mentioned, numerous French, Moors and Lebanese still live in Senegal.


About 95% of Senegalese are Sunni Muslims and 5% are Catholics, the rest adheres to animist traditions. Muslim dignitaries and teachers also play a major role in everyday life, although the Senegalese state is quite tolerant and secular. It is striking and characteristic of Senegal that almost every Muslim is also a member of a brotherhood. These include the Tijani, the Mourids, the Qadiriyya and the rather small Layène order. In addition to the Muslims, there are also Christians in Senegal, as well as people who belong to traditional African religions. The latter live mainly in the extreme south of Senegal. Meanwhile, signs and influences of African religions are present all over the country.

National languages

French is the country’s official language. The African colloquial languages used include Wolof, Senegal-Guinean, Mandé, Ful, Peul, Malinké.

Capital and other cities

Dakar The Senegalese capital Dakar with around 3.5 million residents spreads on the Atlantic coast on a peninsula on which the city was once founded. Today it is not only the largest city in the country, but also the most westerly city in all of Africa, and now extends over the entire Cape Verde peninsula. The city is the most important port and economic center in Senegal. Dakar is the seat of an archbishop of the Catholic Church and has had a gigantic landmark with the 50 meter high African Renaissance statue made of bronze for several years. According to Abbreviation Finder, SEN stands for Senegal in English. Click to see other meanings of this 3-letter acronym.


The city of Diourbel in the west of Senegal has around 105,000 residents. Most of the people, whose lives are made difficult by extreme poverty and desertification, live from the local cultivation of peanuts. Numerous parties and political institutions are also based there.


About 200,000 people live in Kaolack, an important center of the Tijaniyyah order and, because of the large port, also the center of the Senegalese peanut industry. Visitors to the city will quickly notice why Kaolack is one of the dirtiest cities in Africa; you can only live in the western parts of the city. The rest of the city is sinking into dirt, chaos, poverty and disease.


In the city of M’bour in the west of Senegal, where around 180,000 people live, one lives mainly from the titanium industry and from fishing. The city maintains the country’s second largest port after Dakar. But M’bour is also interesting for tourists, which is due to the fine sandy beach of the Petite-Côte and the Experimental Ecological Reserve of M’bour, which has existed since 1987.


The city with 170,000 residents on the north-west coast of Senegal served as the capital of French West Africa until 1902, but was then replaced by Dakar in this role. The city’s significant past can still be read in the cityscape, because Saint-Louis, the cultural center of the country, which is often referred to as the “Venice of Africa” because of its geographical location, has a colonial center, above all with the Place de Faidherbe where the Rognard barracks and the imposing governance rise. The bitterly poor district of Guet N’Dar contrasts with the first cathedral in West Africa with its splendor and dominance, in which the daily struggle for survival takes place against the backdrop of corrugated iron huts. Saint-Louis,


Senegal’s fifth largest city with almost 240,000 residents is the center of the carpet industry, but also the center of cattle trade and meat processing. The city, founded by the French in 1863, also has a university, a museum and the oldest cinema in Senegal that is still in operation.


More than half a million people live in Touba, the center of the Sufi brotherhood Muridiyya, whose followers are called Mourids. The movement was founded in 1887 by the religious leader Amadou Bamba, who is also buried in Touba. The city’s Great Mosque, one of the largest Islamic places of worship south of the Sahara, has stood on the site of his death since 1963.

Senegal: geography, map

Senegal is located on the Atlantic coast in the upper third of West Africa in the tropics (within the tropic of the tropics). The country covers an area of 196,712 km². Check topmbadirectory for politics, flags, famous people, animals and plants of Senegal. Thereof:

  • ForestAround 50% of the country is forested.
  • Meadow and pasture landAround 15% of the land is used as meadow or pasture land.
  • Fields and fieldsAround 18% of the land is used as arable land or fields, especially for growing millet, maize, peanuts, fruit and vegetables.

National borders

Senegal shares a border with the following five states:

Gambia with a length of around 740 km,

Guinea with a length of around 330 km,

Guinea-Bissau with a length of around 340 km,

Mali with a length of around 420 km, as well as

Mauritania with a length of around 820 km.

Tidal range in Dakar

In Dakar the mean tidal range is around 3.5 m. For detailed explanations of ebb and flow, see Tides, Ebb and Flow.


The world’s highest tidal range can be found in the Bay of Fundy in Canada, where it is up to 16 m, and at spring tide even over 20 m. The Bay of Fundy is located on the Atlantic Ocean between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, which is called “Nova Scotia” in German and whose capital is Halifax. On the German North Sea coast it varies between 1 m and 3 m.

In the western Baltic Sea, on the other hand, the tidal range is only 0.3 m, while it is barely noticeable in the eastern Baltic Sea.

Longitude and latitude

Senegal extends over the following geographical latitude (abbreviation Δφ) and geographical longitude (abbreviation Δλ):

Δφ = from 12 ° 20 ‘N to 16 ° 40’ N Δλ = from 011 ° 20 ‘W to 017 ° 33’ W.

You can find detailed information on this subject under: Geographical longitude and latitude.

Legal time

For Senegal, the following value applies to Central European Time (CET), i.e. the time without summer time. A minus sign means that it is earlier there, a plus sign that it is later than CET:

Δt (CET) = – 2 h

More detailed explanations of the time can be found under: Time zones, time.

The highest point of the sun in Dakar

Dakar lies at a northern latitude of around φ = 15 ° (see position of the sun): If the declination of the sun has a value of 15 ° N and the sun’s image point is exactly above the city, the sun is perpendicular there. This happens exactly twice a year, roughly 33 days before June 21st and then again 33 days after June 21st.


It should be noted that the sun, unlike, for example in Europe, part of the year from the east on the north moves west. The sun is always in the north at noon in Dakar when the image point of the sun and thus its declination is more northerly than the latitude of Dakar with φ = 15 °.


Nepen Diakha

The highest point in the country is the Nepen Diakha with a height of 581 m. It is located in the foothills of the Guinean mountainous country Fouta Djalon in the extreme southeast of the country.



The longest river in the country is the Senegal of the same name, but only part of it flows in the country and has a total length of around 1,635 km. It flows into the Atlantic at Saint Louis in the north of the country.

Other rivers are the Gambia with a total length of about 1,100 km. But it is mostly enclosed by the country of Gambia. In addition, there are the Saloum and Casamance rivers in Senegal.


Lac de Guier There are

hardly any lakes in the country. But there is the Lac de Guier with an area of around 20 km².


Île de Gorée

The Île de Gorée, with an area of 0.36 km², lies in front of the country, along with a few other tiny islands.

The Atlantic

Senegal borders the Atlantic Ocean for around 530 km in the west of the country. It should be mentioned that in the west in the Atlantic at a distance of around 660 km.

Senegal Population