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By 1902, the French government, which had embarked on a "Grand Design" to conquer as much territory as possible, had completed the conquest of most of the parts of West Africa not occupied by the British, the Portuguese, and the Germans, and Dakar was designated the capital of all French West African territories.The development of state schools provided education for Africans, and scholarships gave them the opportunity to receive higher learning in France, creating an educated African elite.In 1444, the Portuguese turned the island of Gorée into a graveyard for sailors and established a profitable trade in slaves and gold along the coast of Senegal.Gradually, other European merchants followed, including the French, who established their first settlements in 1638 in the Senegal River, on the island of Saint-Louis, which became the base of all French activity and expansion in West Africa.Both countries then declared individual independence. On April 1960, Senegal was proclaimed an independent nation.

In 1959, Senegal and the French Sudan decided to merge and form the independent Mali Federation, but it was not a success.In 1854, General Louis Faidherbe, a colonial administrator, was given the assignment of pacifying the continuously battling kingdoms along the Senegal River.He created the Tirailleurs Senegalais (corps of Senegalese riflemen), an army of local volunteers under French commanders who achieved international fame during World War II.In 1840, the French government declared Senegal a permanent French possession, abolished all forms of slavery, and granted full citizenship to those born in Senegal.This enabled the people of Senegal to elect and send a deputy to the National Assembly in Paris.

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