Long considered one of Africa’s model democracies, the western African nation of Senegal has a tradition of stable governments and civilian rule.
Hundreds of Senegalese were killed in a local separatist conflict in the southern region of Casamance. But violence has waned since a 2014 ceasefire.
The country’s stability has allowed it to send peacekeeping troops to DR Congo, Liberia and Kosovo.
Slaves, ivory and gold were exported from the coast during the 17th and 18th centuries and now the economy is based mainly on agriculture. The money sent home by Senegalese living abroad is a key source of revenue.
The Gambia country profile
The Gambia is one of Africa’s smallest countries and, unlike many of its west Africa neighbours, it has enjoyed long spells of stability since independence.
President Yahya Jammeh seized power in a bloodless coup in 1994 and has ruled with an iron fist ever since.
Stability has not translated into prosperity. Despite the presence of the Gambia River, which runs through the middle of the country, only one-sixth of the land is arable and poor soil quality has led to the predominance of one crop – peanuts.
Tourism is an important source of foreign exchange, as is the money sent home by Gambians living abroad. Most visitors are drawn to the resorts that occupy a stretch of the Atlantic coast.