Hydrogeology of Senegal
The area of present-day Senegal has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Recorded history shows kingdoms in this area from the 7th century; and parts of Senegal lay within the ancient empires of Ghana and Jolof at times between the 8th and 16th centuries. Islam has been an important influence since the Almovarid era of the 11th century. Various European colonial powers competed for trade in the area from the 15th century, including Portugal, the Netherlands and Britain. From the 17th century France dominated the area as part of French West Africa. In 1960 Senegal gained independence, initially as part of the short-lived Mali Federation with French Sudan (later Mali) and then a few months later as independent Senegal. Between 1982 and 1989, Senegal federated with Gambia as Senegambia. There were sporadic episodes of unrest in the 1980s and 90s, but since 2000 the country has seen relative political and civil stability, although there has been a long-running, albeit relatively low key separatist conflict in the southern Casamance region.
In the colonial period the economy was dominated by export of groundnuts and other agricultural products. After independence, commercial agriculture was run by government parastatal organisations. From the 1980s there have been moves to privatise and diversify the economy. Senegal’s manufacturing industry is better developed than that of other West African countries, with petrochemicals now playing a significant role in the economy, and Dakar an important international port. Current key exports include fish, chemicals, cotton, groundnuts and calcium phosphate. Tourism is of growing importance, in part due to Senegal’s diverse ecology and culture, its relatively high level of development in comparison with other West African countries, and its reputation as a fairly stable democracy within the region. Information technology based services are another key contributor to the economy.
Senegal has relatively abundant water resources averaged across the country, but there are strong regional and seasonal variations. The north of the country is semi-arid; the south humid-tropical. The largest surface water resource is the shared Senegal River, which forms the country’s northern boundary. Many smaller perennial rivers and some lakes are also important resources. Groundwater is relatively abundant and provides much of the country’s water supplies. Overabstraction of groundwater is a growing problem in some areas.