At what point did France assume control of Senegal?

Travel Destinations

By Meagan Drillinger

Senegal’s early history

Senegal is located on the west coast of Africa and has a rich history that dates back thousands of years. The first inhabitants of Senegal were the Serer people, who established their own political and social systems. Over time, other groups such as the Wolof and Fulani migrated to the region and established their own societies. Senegal was also influenced by the empires of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai, which controlled large parts of West Africa.

Arrival of the Portuguese

In the 15th century, the Portuguese arrived in Senegal and established trading posts along the coast. They were followed by the Dutch and British, who also established trading posts and forts. These European powers traded goods such as gold, ivory, and slaves with the local populations. The trade in slaves had a devastating effect on the region, as millions of Africans were forcibly taken from their homes and transported to the Americas.

French trade and settlement in Senegal

In the 17th century, the French established trading posts along the Senegal River. They were interested in the region’s rich resources, including peanuts, gum arabic, and gold. The French also established settlements, such as Saint-Louis, which became the capital of French Senegal. By the 19th century, the French had established a number of trading posts and forts along the coast, and had gained control of the Senegalese interior.

French acquisition of Saint-Louis

In 1659, the French established a settlement on the island of Saint-Louis, which they named after King Louis XIV. The settlement became an important center for French trade and administration in West Africa. In 1758, the French captured the fortified town of Saint-Louis from the Dutch, and it became the capital of French Senegal.

Expansion of French control in Senegal

During the 19th century, the French expanded their control over Senegal. They established a protectorate over the Wolof kingdom of Cayor in 1863, and invaded the neighboring kingdom of Baol in 1864. The French also established a protectorate over the Fulani Empire of Fouta Djallon in 1881, and gained control of the Casamance region in the south of Senegal in 1886. By the end of the 19th century, the French had gained control of most of Senegal.

Formation of the French West Africa colony

In 1895, the French combined their territories in West Africa to form the French West Africa colony. The colony included Senegal, as well as other territories such as Mali, Guinea, Ivory Coast, and Niger. The French continued to exert control over the region, and imposed their language, culture, and political systems on the local populations.

Senegal’s role in the French Empire

During World War I, thousands of Senegalese soldiers fought for France, and helped to defend the French Empire. Senegal also provided resources such as peanuts and gum arabic to France. However, during World War II, Senegal was occupied by the Vichy government, which collaborated with the Nazis. This led to a rise in Senegalese nationalism and calls for independence.

Senegal’s struggle for independence

In 1945, Senegal became a French overseas territory, and in 1958, it became an autonomous republic within the French Community. However, Senegal’s leaders, such as Leopold Sedar Senghor, continued to push for full independence. In 1960, Senegal gained independence from France, becoming the first colony in West Africa to do so.

Senegal achieves independence from France

Senegal’s independence from France was a significant moment in the country’s history. It marked the end of colonial rule and the beginning of a new era of self-governance. Senegal has since forged its own path, with its own political, economic, and cultural systems.

Senegal-France relations today

Senegal and France continue to have close ties, with France being one of Senegal’s largest trading partners. Senegal also has a significant French expatriate community. However, there have been some tensions between the two countries over issues such as immigration and economic development.

Conclusion: Senegal’s historical ties to France

Senegal’s history has been shaped by its interactions with European powers, including Portugal, the Netherlands, Britain, and France. While Senegal’s early history was defined by its own political and social systems, its later history was marked by European colonialism and the struggle for independence. Today, Senegal has a rich cultural heritage that reflects its diverse history, and continues to forge its own path as an independent nation.

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Meagan Drillinger

Meagan Drillinger, an avid travel writer with a passion ignited in 2009. Having explored over 30 countries, Mexico holds a special place in her heart due to its captivating cultural tapestry, delectable cuisine, diverse landscapes, and warm-hearted people. A proud alumnus of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, when she isn’t uncovering the wonders of New York City, Meagan is eagerly planning her next exhilarating escapade.

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