Senegal (/ˌsɛnɪˈɡɔːl, -ˈɡɑːl/ (About this sound listen); Wolof: Senegaal; French: Sénégal), officially the Republic of Senegal (Wolof: Réewum Senegaal; French: République du Sénégal), is a country in West Africa. Senegal is bordered by Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal also borders The Gambia, a country occupying a narrow sliver of land along the banks of the Gambia River, which separates Senegal's southern region of Casamance from the rest of the country. Senegal also shares a maritime border with Cape Verde. Senegal's economic and political capital is Dakar. It is the westernmost country in the mainland of the Old World, or Afro-Eurasia, and owes its name to the Senegal River, which borders it to the east and north. The name "Senegal" comes from the Wolof "Sunuu Gaal", which means "Our Boat". Senegal covers a land area of almost 197,000 square kilometres (76,000 sq mi) and has an estimated population of about 15 million. The climate is typically Sahelian, though there is a rainy season.
Senegal is named after the Senegal River, the etymology of which is contested. One popular theory (proposed by David Boilat in 1853) is that it stems from the Wolof phrase sunu gaal, which means "our canoe" (or pirogue), resulting from a miscommunication between 15th-century Portuguese sailors and Wolof fishermen. The "our canoe" theory has been popularly embraced in modern Senegal for its charm. It is frequently used in appeals to national solidarity (e.g. "we're all in the same canoe"), frequently heard in the media.
Modern historians believe the name probably refers to the Sanhaja, Berbers who lived on the northern side of the river. A competing theory is that it derives from the medieval town of "Sanghana" (also spelled as Isenghan, Asengan, Singhanah), described by the Arab geographer al-Bakri in 1068 as located by the mouth of the river. Some Serer people from the south believe the river's name is derived from the compound of the Serer term Sene (from Roge Sene, Supreme Deity in Serer religion) and O Gal (meaning "body of water").