Senegal - French possession

French possession

Senegal - Republic






Quick reference

General issues: French colony 1887-1944, Republic 1960-Present

Country name on general issues: Senegal

Currency: 1 Franc = 100 Centimes 1887-1944, 1 (CFA) Franc = 100 Centimes 1960-Present

Population: 1 200 000 in 1900, 14 130 000 in 2013

Political history Senegal

Establishing the French presence

Postal history Senegal

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Senegal is located in western Africa. The first Europeans to settle in Senegal were the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch and, from the 17th century, the French. Senegal, in the 18th century, is contested by France and Great Britain to be finally acknowledged as a French colony in 1817. The French presence in Senegal, at that time, is limited to settlements on the island of Gorée  and in Saint Louis.

Extending French control

From the mid 19th century, the French start to extend their influence in Senegal. First, bringing the coastal region and the shores of the Senegal River under direct French control – next, focusing on the territories in the interior. Senegal is brought under French control by a combination of signing treaties with the local rulers and military force. The most important kingdoms the French are confronted with are the Wolof and Cayor kingdoms – both of the Wolof people, the largest population group in Senegal –  and the imamates of Fouta Toro and Fouta Djalon – both of the Fulbe, the second largest population group in Senegal. The first of these kingdoms to be brought under French control is Fouta Toro in 1859, the last is Fouta Djalon in 1896.

The borders of Senegal with the British Gambia and Portuguese Guinea are defined through treaties in 1886 and 1889 respectively.

Senegal as the center of French West Africa

In the second part of the 19th century, Senegal – being the oldest French possession in western Africa – is also the center of administration for other French settlements in western Africa. Thus, until 1891, the French settlements in French Guinea – Les Rivières du Sud – and in Ivory Coast – the Établissements du Côte d’Ivoire – are administered from Senegal. Also, the process of colonizing the territories that have been awarded to the French further inland – based on an agreement reached by the colonial powers in Berlin in 1885 – is directed from Senegal until, in 1892, the colony of French Sudan is formed.

In 1895, Senegal becomes the seat of the governor general of French West Africa – the federation of French possessions formed in that year. The governor of Senegal is also the governor general of French West Africa. In 1902, the position of the governor general is made a separate position in the hierarchy of French West Africa. Also, in 1902, the seat of the governor general is moved from Saint Louis to Dakar.

The final border changes

Fishing boats. Fishing has a long tradition in Senegal and is done intensively in some areas

Fishing boats. Fishing has a long tradition in Senegal and is done intensively in some areas

The changes made in the organization of French West Africa, in 1902, also affect Senegal in that the so called ‘pays de protetorat’ – the protectorates formed by the French in the interior of Senegal – are transferred from Senegal to Senegambia & Niger. The ‘pays de protectorat’ are returned to Senegal in 1904.[1]The exact borders of the ‘pays de protectorat’ are not to be found on maps. The map in this profile is an approximation based on period maps.

The final borders of Senegal are defined when Mauritania is established as a separate French territory within French West Africa. The French have long had settlements on the northern bank of the Senegal River that were administered as part of Senegal. In 1903, the French extend their influence further north by forming the protectorate of Mauritania, still administered from Senegal.  In 1904, Mauritania becomes a civil territory separated from Senegal.

Senegal from French possession to republic

Senegal will become a French overseas territory in 1946 and gain self government in 1958. In 1959, with the neighboring French Sudan – the current Mali – the federation of Mali is formed that, in 1960, gains full independence from France.  As, later in 1960, the federation is dissolved, Senegal becomes the independent republic of Senegal.

From 1982 until 1989, Senegal and Gambia – fully enclosed by Senegal – discuss forming a federation that, however, will not come to be. A separatist movement has been active in the Casamance region in southern Senegal from the 1980’s until today.

Senegal has, since independence, had a tradition of democratically elected governments. The economy depends in part on agriculture and fishing and in part on mineral resources.

Postal history Senegal

Postal history Senegal

1906 – Common design for the French possessions in French West Africa, general Louis Faidherbe

The first stamps used in Senegal are the general issues for the French colonies from 1859. The first stamps are issued for Senegal in 1887 – these being the general issues for the French colonies overprinted with new face values. The first set of definitives is issued in 1892 – the common Navigation & Commerce design for the French colonies. From 1906, many issues are of a common design for the French possessions in French West Africa and inscribed, in  addition to ‘Senegal’, with ‘Afrique Occidentale Frainçaise’ or ‘AOF’ for ‘French West Africa’.

The stamps of Senegal are, from 1944, superseded by the issues for French West Africa – as is the case for all French possessions in French West Africa. The last issue of French West Africa is inscribed Abidjan-Dakar and was used only in Senegal and Ivory Coast. From 1959, the issues of the federation of Mali are used, these to be superseded by the issues of the republic of Senegal from 1960.

Stamps of Senegal have been used from 1887 until 1892 in post offices set up from Senegal in French Guinea and French Sudan and until 1906 in Mauritania.

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