Climate & Agriculture
Three main climate zones
Senegal’s climate could generally be described as tropical. However, the weather does vary in different parts of the country, broadly falling into three main zones:
- The coastal region: the Atlantic coastal strip is cooler than inland, partly due to brisk onshore winds. Winter temperatures range from 18-26°C in January. In summer; maximum temperatures average around 31°C. Rains arrive in July, peak in August and tail off by October, bringing around 550mm of rainfall annually.
- The Sahel region: the northern half of the country falls within the ‘Sahel belt’, a region of semi-arid land which spans across the African continent. Here, temperatures can be cool at night (dropping to around 14°C), but often reach 40°C by day. Rainfall is below 400mm.
- The Southern region: the southern half of the country is hot and humid, with average maximum temperatures above 30°C throughout the year. Rainfall is usually over 1,500mm to the far south.
Agriculture suited to the area
A useful tree
Acacia trees are farmed for gum Arabic. This is an important natural substance, because it is used as a stabiliser in the global food industry, as well as in paints and printing - see Sudan Economy & Industry.
Across the Sahel area of Senegal, nomadic pastoralists graze their flocks of cattle, goats and sheep across the savannah grasslands. Further south, sandy soils are perfect for cultivating peanuts (also known as groundnuts), one of the most important crops in Senegal. Areas of the northern region are also suitable for growing sorghum.
In the southern half of Senegal, where rainfall is higher, more land is devoted to agriculture. Millet, maize (corn), sorghum and rice are grown here, as well as cassava, beans, sweet potatoes and many varieties of fruit.
Naturally lush and green, southern areas are threatened with deforestation because of the need for charcoal as fuel and more land for cultivation. The increasing demand for fish has also brought the problem of overfishing (with more than 15,000 Senegalese pirogues/traditional fishing boats active along the coastline). Catches fell more than half between 1994 and 2005. In the Marine Protected Area of Bamboung, stocks are recovering, inspiring similar projects elsewhere along the coast.