By Felix Nkambeh Tih
ANKARA (AA) - In Senegal, the word Teranga means hospitality in Wolof, the main local language.
With its stable democracy and social harmony, the West African country is among the leading countries in the region as its pace of development has gained momentum in recent years.
Gaining independence from France in 1960, Senegal is surrounded by Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, Guinea Bissau and Gambia.
It has a total surface area of 196,722 square kilometers (75,955 square miles) and is seen as a gateway to West Africa.
With its security and location at the tip of a peninsula reaching into the Atlantic Ocean, the capital Dakar hosts many international organizations and companies such as the UN, International Monetary Fund (IMF), International Organization for Migration, World Health Organization and UNICEF.
The Senegalese have a reputation outside the country for being welcoming, friendly and tolerant, with their concept of Teranga based on widespread and deep-rooted Sufi tradition.
Some 96% of the population are Muslims, with more than 60% of the people following Sufi teachings such as Mouridism, Tijanism and Qadiriyya.
These structures are seen to prevent radicalization in Senegal and set an environment of peace and tolerance, playing an important role in the peaceful character of the people.
With a population of 16 million, the main ethnic groups are the Wolofs, Fulanis and Serers.
French is also used as the official language in the West African country, which has many local languages including Wolof and Fula spoken by 80% of the population.
Portuguese slave traders reached Senegal at the beginning of the 15th century, and the country was colonized in part or in whole by Lisbon, as well as the Netherlands, the U.K. and France.
Goree Island off Dakar, which was also known as the location of the House of Slaves, still carries the painful memories of more than 20 million Africans who were sold as slaves from there to be sent to the Americas.
Senegal gained its independence from France on April 4, 1960.
A country where four presidents have served since independence, Senegal is one of Africa's most stable democracies.
Under a parliamentary system, the country elects its president for mandates of five years at a time via a two-round voting system.
The current president, Macky Sall, took office in the March 2012 election and began his second term in February 2019.
- Economic development
Senegal, which ranks second among French-speaking African countries in terms of industrial development after the Ivory Coast, has seen an annual growth of more than 6% since 2014.
The country has been among Africa's most stable countries, according to the World Bank, with three major peaceful political transitions since its independence in 1960.
The economy was estimated to be worth $24.13 billion in 2018, representing 0.04% of the world economy, according to tradingeconomics.com.
Growing 7% in 2018, Senegal is expected to excel further in economic development with added income from recently discovered hydrocarbon reserves discovered in the Atlantic Ocean.
The country's development strategy, called Plan Senegal Emergent, is an ambitious yet feasible path towards becoming an emerging economy. Accelerating and broadening the reforms required by this plan are integral to this vision, according to the IMF.
Turkish companies and institutions, such as Turkey Maarif Foundation, Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency, Turkish Airlines, the Yunus Emre Institute and others, also play an important role in the country's development.
The country is also currently preparing to host the 2022 Summer Youth Olympics.
- Agricultural sector
Agriculture, fisheries, the service sector, communication, tourism and mining have a prominent place in the Senegalese economy, with important minerals such as zirconium, titanium, marble, gold and limestone found in the country.
Agriculture employs 52.7% of the workforce and contributes to 16% of GDP, though only 16.62% of the land is arable.
Leading agricultural products include peanuts, cotton, cashews, melons, black-eyed peas, cassava, millet, rice and corn.
Income from the industry sector, which employs 20% of the workforce, constitutes 22.6% of GDP