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Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa. It is the westernmost country in the mainland of the Old World or Eurafrasia and owes its name to the Sénégal River that borders it to the east and north. Senegal is externally bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south; internally it almost completely surrounds the Gambia, namely on the north, east and south, except for Gambia's short Atlantic coastline. Senegal covers a land area of almost 197,000 square kilometres, and has an estimated population of about 13 million. The climate is tropical with two seasons: the dry season and the rainy season.
Dakar, the capital city of Senegal, is located at the westernmost tip of the country on the Cap-Vert peninsula. About 500 kilometers off the coast lie the Cape Verde Islands. During the 17th and 18th centuries, numerous trading posts belonging to various European colonial empires were established along the coast. After French colonization of the territory called French West Africa, the town of St. Louis became the capital; in 1902 it was succeeded by Dakar. When Senegal gained independence from France in 1960, it affirmed its capital as Dakar.
French, the only official language in the country, is facing a backlash as a consequence of a rising Senegalese linguistic nationalist movement, which supports the integration of Wolof, the common vernacular language of the country, into the national constitution.
Islam is the predominant religion in the country. Islam is practiced by approximately 94 percent of the country's population; the Christian community, at 5 percent of the population, includes Roman Catholics and diverse Protestant denominations. One percent have animist beliefs, particularly in the southeastern region of the country. Some Serer people follow the Serer religion.
Hospitality, in theory, is given such importance in Senegalese culture that it is widely considered to be part of the national identity. The Wolof word for hospitality is "teranga" and it is so identified with the pride of Senegal that the national football team is known as the Lions of Teranga.