Sunset over the Saloum River, Sine Saloum Delta, Senegal.
The Republic of Senegal is the most westerly country of the African continent, situated between Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania and bordering the North Atlantic Ocean with a coastline of 531 km. In the south-east it is bordered by Mali and Guinea. The Gambia lies in the southern part of Senegal and is entirely enclosed by it apart from its coastline. Senegal has a total area of 196,190 km2 (of which 4,190 km2 is water) and a population of almost 11 million people. The Senegal river flows from Guinea and forms the whole northern and eastern border of Senegal to the Atlantic at Saint-Louis. Other estuaries of significance are those of the Sine-Saloum, Gambia and Casamance rivers.
The climate is tropical with a rainy season from May to November (although rain only really falls between June and September) with strong south-east winds, and a dry season from December to April dominated by hot, dry, harmattan winds, which blow from the east and north-east off the Sahara. The terrain is generally low with 90% of the country less than 100 m above sea level. Rolling plains rise to foothills in the south-east and the highest elevation is 58 m above sea level.
The country can be divided into five distinct areas according to soils and vegetation: the Senegal river valley which lies in the Sahel biome; the coastal zone from south of the Senegal river to the Gambia river; the ground-nut zone which covers some two-thirds of the country including the vast Sahel and Sudan savannas of the interior; the south-east including the Bassari hills and the Parc National du Niokola Koba; and the Casamance, which includes the only area of Guinea forest vegetation in Senegal. Both the Sine-Saloum and the Casamance have important areas of mangroves.
Languages are French (official), Wolof, Pulaar, Jola and Mandinka. More details can be found at CIA Factbook.