Senegambia, a territory subject to France, on the west coast of Africa and embracing the colony of Senegal proper, a territory on both banks of the river Senegal (pop. 135,500), and various protected states, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Senegal and Gambia rivers; the word ' Senegambia' (not used by the French) is compounded of the names of these two rivers. Until 1890 Senegambia included the region known as the 'Rivieres du Sud'(q.v.)and districts on the Gold Coast and Bight of Benin. To the north the French claim the Atlantic coast southwards from Cape Blanco to the mouth of the Senegal; whilst inland they have extended their authority over Futa-Jallon, Beledugu, and Macina as far as the Joliba (Niger). These protected states of the interior are called the French Soudan, and administered by an officer under the governor of Senegal. Moreover, in virtue of recent treaties - e.g. with Great Britain in 1890 - the vast expanse of the Sahara south of Algiers and Tunis, right up to the Niger, and to a line drawn eastwards from Say on that river to Barrawa on Lake Chad, is recognised as being within the French ' sphere of influence;' and in 1894 the French, not without mishaps, established themselves at Timbuctoo. South of the Niger too they have, since 1889, established a protectorate over the Kong states, an immense area stretching almost down to the Gulf of Guinea. Thus the territory claimed by France in this part of Africa extends from Tunis to Sokoto and the Gulf of Guinea, and from the Atlantic and the frontier of Morocco to Lake Chad. The only interruptions to the continuity of this vast area are the British colonies of Gambia and Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the numerous small colonies belonging to different European powers on the Guinea coast.
Of this gigantic territory France actually occupies little more than the colonies of Senegal, ' Rivers of the South,' and the two groups on the Gold Coast. These, with protected states, are estimated to have a total area of 165,000 sq. m. and a total pop. of over 2,000,000. The people are mostly Fulah and Mandingo Negroes, in part Moslems, in part fetich-worshippers. The ' French Soudan' has an area of probably 54,000 sq. m. and an estimated pop. of nearly 300,000. The French Sahara may have an area of a million miles, mostly desert. The principal geographical feature in these united regions is the plateau (2000 to 4000 feet) of Futa-Jallon (q.v.); from its valleys issue many rivers that flow (e.g. the Gambia) west and south-west to the Atlantic, north to the Senegal, and east and north-east to the Joliba (Niger). Ground-nuts, gums, india-rubber, timber, etc. constitute the bulk of the exports - three-fourths to France. The imports (textiles, liquors, and food-stuffs) are valued at £1,120,000 - nearly half from France. St Louis (q.v.) is the principal town in these colonies. The French first settled in this part of Africa early in the 17th century, became active after 1854, and greatly extended their influence since 1880.