During prehistory, the presence of a rather old settlement is considered very inferior to the Christian era. Bifacial kernels were discovered in the Paleolithic era that were of inferior quality in the peninsula of Cape Verde, as well as other more elaborate objects out of stone (hatchets, scrapers) in the area known as Rufisque and at the edge of the rivers of eastern Senegal.
With the Neolithic era, the tools diversified and ceramics made its appearance. The researches carried out in the coastal regions brought to light kitchen discoveries that testifies to an important population of fishermen and tradesmen (swamp of Khant in the delta, entrance of Saloum).
The metallurgy developed during the protohistoric period (1st millenium b.c.), where one finds tombs in form of tumulus. In the center of the country, stretching towards the present Gambia, one finds a set of circles of megaliths on a sector of 100 km out of 250 km. One finds this kind of alignment in the north and in the Central African Republic.
The settlements were gradually consolidated to lead to the creation of the first kingdoms which were formed in the 7th century, Toucouleurs found Tekrour, the Kingdom of Namandirou, then Djolof, with remote relationships with the empire of Ghana. Among the various kingdoms, most powerful at the 14th century was the empire of Djolof which gathered Cayor, Baol, the kingdoms of the sérères of Sine and Saloum, Waalo, Fouta-Toro and Bambouk. In the south of the country, the State of Kaabu, then Fouladou.
Djolof was an empire founded by Ndiadiane Ndiaye, first bourba (king) of djolof. He had been elected as chief in what was going to become the kingdom of Oualo, in the North-West of present Senegal, in the area near the river. He had brought together all the populations of ethnic wolof group to form this empire in the 13th century. The empire crumbled in 1549, with the death of the last emperor of Djolof, Lélé Fouli Fak, was killed by Amary Ngoné Sobel Fall, the then chief of the area of Cayor.
Djolof remained a vassal empire of Mali for one century. From there, the other States kept coming one after the other to take their independence until reducing the great empire of Djolof to dimensions of a royalty in the central part of the country. In second half of the 19th century, the French colonists gradually annexed all the kingdoms of Senegal. Djolof was the last kingdom annexed with the departure to exile of Alboury Ndiaye, under the impulse of Louis Faidherbe.
Islam was introduced in Senegal for the first time between the 8th century and the 9th century by means of the arabo-Berber tradesmen. They peacefully diffused this religion and converted the Toucouleurs, whom later propagated it everywhere in Senegal. Later, in the 11th century, the Almoravides, helpes of the Toucouleurs, tried to Islamize the traditional religious groups by the Djihad. It is one of the reasons why there was migration of the Sérères towards Sine-Saloum, Wolofs, Fulani and Mandingues, were all allies with the Tekrour. A popular legend, sung by the griots and illustrated by poet-president Senghor, attaches the filiation of the first Bourba Djolof Ndiadiane Diaye to the dynasty of Almoravides (founder of Marrakech and the one in charge of the attack rebuffed by the famous “Cid”). Islam propagated early in the empire of Djolof. But it was in the 19th century that it truly gained the whole of the population, peacefully, thanks to the marabouts and their brotherhoods such as El Hadji Malick Sy for the tidjaniya or Amadou Bamba, founder of the brotherhood called mouride, who charmed the populations by their scholarly wisdom and their wonders. It was also a means for the populations to link themselves and of protecting themselves from the devastations which the kingdoms faced in the course of the 19th century (repeated Djihads, forced colonization).
The 19th century was indeed marked by the fall of the kingdoms, the projection of the European settlers and also by the anticolonial resistance, illustrated by personnalities such as Aline Sitoe Diatta, Sidya Ndaté Yalla Diop, El Hadj Oumar Tall, Mamadou Lamine Dramé, Bouna AlbouryNdiaye, Alpha Molo Balde, Maba DiakhouBa, Ndeté Yalla Mbodj, Moussa Molo Balde, Djignabo Badji, Lat Dior… The Catholic religion was propagated through the hand of the European missionaries as from the 19th century, particularly in Sine and in Casamance.
The first counters
The colonial conquest started as soon as these lands were discovered between 1442 and 1456 through the hand of the Venetian sailor Cadamostopour on the account of Portugal. The Portuguese launched out immediately in the trafficking of blacks, but will have to cope soon with tough competition from the British, French and Dutch slave traders through the triangular Trade.
The Dutchmen established a counter on the island of Gorée, France establishesd in 1659 that of Saint-Louis which became the first capital of Senegal. In 1677, the French occupied in their turn the island of Gorée (one of the principal commercial slave centers with Saint-Louis and the fort of the island of James in The Gambia).
The 18th and the 19th centuries saw the peak of the signares, rich commercial halfcasts, centered on Gorée and Saint-Louis, which remained external with the slave trade.
The second Republic of 1848 created a mandate of deputy for Saint Louis. The colonial master imposed Faidherbe, as governor of Senegal (territory of the four municipals) from 1854 to 1861 and 1863 to 1865, which provided the foundations for future West African Francophonie (WAF). Mindful of the indigenous culture, he extended the French influence beyond Senegal, worked to develop the local economy and created the Dakar port. The third Republic devotes to the statuts of the four municipalities in Saint-Louis, Gorée, Dakar and Rufisque.
After the conference of Berlin
The Berlin conference ended on February 26th 1885, the European powers shared Africa afterwards, and annex from then kingdoms in the lands. The colonization of the whole of West Africa was completed a few years later. West African Francophonie (WAF) was created in 1895. Two statutes will then cohabit within the population, the inhabitants of the four municipals are full French citizens while the populations of the lately colonized territories will be subjected to the former. Under the influence of black deputy Blaise Diagne, a particular statut can be picked by the inhabitants of the four municipals as from 1916. These sent out conscripts during the two world wars. In 1919, Dakar was faced with some form of troubles. The rifleman Cheikou Cissé, born in French-Sudan and wounded during the war, was condemned to the sorrow of perpetual deportation and was sent to the prison of New Caledonia. Died in 1933, he became an object of resistance fighting alongside some anti-colonialists from within (of which the international red Help and the communist SFIC).
After Saint-Louis, Dakar became, in 1902, the capital of the West African Francophonie (WAF), one of the French colonies.
In April 1959, the Sudanese Republic (present day Mali) and Senegal amalgamated to form the Federation of Mali. June 20th 1960 the federation became independent following the transfer of powers agreed upon in the agreement signed in France April 4th the 1960. This date is considered as the official day of accession of Senegal to independence.
August 20th, 1960, Senegal withdraws from the federation of Mali and proclaims its independence.
Whereas the President of the Council, Mamadou Dia, incarnates the summit of the State in a bicephalous parliamentary system a type in the fourth Republic (internal and political economy for him, and foreign policy for Senghor), his relationship with the President of the Republic worsened little by little. He was arrested and charged for “coup plotting” with four other ministers, Valdiodio Ndiaye, Ibrahima Sarr, Joseph Mbaye and Alioune Tall.
In as much as the public prosecutor did not apply any form of punishment, they were condemned to 20 years of imprisonment in the special detention center in Kédougou.
The public prosecutor at the time, Ousmane Camara, reconsidered the course of the law suit in an autobiography published in 2010: “I know that this high court of justice, essentially and by its composition, (note: one finds deputies here having voted the vote of no confidence), has already pronounced his sentence, before even the opening of the lawsuit (...) the participation of magistrates who are President (Ousmane Goundiam), the examining magistrate (Abdoulaye Diop) and the public prosecutor does nothing but put on the coat of equality, a summarized execution already planned”.
Many personalities like Jean-Paul Sartre, the pope John XXIII or François Mitterrand sought for their release but Senghor decided to reprieve them only to release them in March 1974; they were amnestied in April 1976, a month before the re-establishment of the multi-party system in Senegal. In spite of the announcement of the revision of the law suit of Mamadou Dia and his assistants by Abdoulaye Wade in the beginning of his first presidential mandate, this dramatic episode of the History of Senegal remains a delicate subject because many political analysts and historians saw this event as the first true political drift from Senghor.
Following this event, Léopold Sédar Senghor sets up in March 7th 1963 a strong presidential regime.
In 1966, UPS becomes the only authorized party. It took about ten years to wait before the re-establishment of the multi-party system in Senegal in May 1976.
Senegal and The Gambia came together in 1982 to form the Confederation of Sénégambie, but this was only theoretical and was never applied. It is finally dissolved in 1989.
Confrontations took place since 1982 in an intermittent way between the separatists installed in the South of Casamance and the government forces. After several unfruitful attempts, a new agreement was signed in Ziguinchor December 30th, 2004 between the Home Secretary Ousmane Ngom and Father Augustin Diamacoune Senghor, head of the rebellion of the Movement of the democratic forces of Casamance (MFDC).
Another stream of conflict broke out between the Casamançais and the Guinea-Bissau’s in April 2007.
In 1989, Mauritania and Senegal rejected violently and respectively the communities of the neighbouring countries where the majorities were born and for a long time lived and have established, integrated both in the social and in the economic sectors. According to the UNHCR, refugees are still been hosted along the Senegal coast. In 2007, the president of Mauritania stated during his campaign, that he is in favour of the return of his compatriots living in Senegal and in Mali against their will.