A map of Senegal Africa’s westernmost point, Cap Vert or Cabo Verde, lies within the borders of Senegal. The country is named after the River Senegal, which flows along its northern border. This horseshoe-shaped country curves around another country, The Gambia. Most of its land is made up of rolling grasslands. The foothills of the Fouta Djalon highlands—the country’s only uplands—rise in the far southeast corner. The northern part of Senegal reaches into the semi-arid Sahel, bordering the Sahara Desert. The south is greener and wetter, with a hot, tropical climate and a rainy season between June and October.
The largest ethnic group in Senegal are the Wolof, a people whose ancestors came from the western Sahara. Other large groups include the Pula (or Fula) in the north and the Serer, native to the Senegal valley. Senegal is largely a peaceful country. Nearly all its people are Muslims. Although French is the official language, most people speak local languages, such as Wolof or Fula. Wolof is the main language spoken in the capital, Dakar.
In the 15th century, the River Senegal was nicknamed “River of Gold” by traders searching for a way to sail into the heart of the gold-rich Ghana and Mali Empires.
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