Coordinates: 13°46′8″N 13°40′2″W / 13.76889°N 13.66722°W / 13.76889; -13.66722
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Tamba Counda train station
Tamba Counda train station
arrondissements of the Tambacounda department
arrondissements of the Tambacounda department
Tambacounda is located in Senegal
Location within Senegal
Coordinates (region:SN_type:city): 13°46′8″N 13°40′2″W / 13.76889°N 13.66722°W / 13.76889; -13.66722
Country Senegal
RegionTambacounda Region
 • MayorOury Ba
24 m (79 ft)
 • Total78,800
Time zoneUTC+0 (GMT)

Tambacounda (Arabic: تامباكوندا; Wolof:[citation needed] Tambaakundaa [citation needed]) is the largest city in eastern Senegal, 400 kilometres (250 mi) southeast of Dakar, and is the regional capital of the province of the same name. Its estimated population in 2007 was 78,800.


Tambacounda is situated on the sparsely populated sahélien plains of eastern Senegal.

Nearby towns include Madina Maboule, Koukari, Yoro Sankoule, Sambadian, Djidje Kounda, Afia Seno, Saare Boylii and Kanderi Niana.


Tambacounda has a hot semi-arid climate (BSh). Like most of West Africa, the area has two seasons, the rainy season from June to October, characterized by heat, humidity and storms, and the sweltering, rainless dry season from November to May. The average precipitation is 742 mm (29.2 in).

Climate data for Tambacounda (1991–2020)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Mean daily maximum °C (°F) 34.9
Mean daily minimum °C (°F) 18.0
Average precipitation mm (inches) 0.1
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm) 0.0 0.1 0.1 0.1 1.1 5.9 10.6 14.8 12.9 4.3 0.3 0.0 50.2
Source: NOAA[1]


Tambacounda was founded by Mandinka settlers of the Jatta (Diatta) family who had been driven out of the valley of the Faleme river by an expanding Bundu in the 18th century. When they arrived at the future side of Tambacounda they found a single hut, inhabited by a slave named Tamba, who welcomed them, and named the community after him.[2][3]: 142  The town, a center of the peanut trade with the English, was attacked by Bundu in 1863.[3]: 140 

The Kingdom of Wuli became a French protectorate in 1888.[4] The Dakar–Bamako railway reached Tambacounda in 1913.[5] In 1919, it became the adminsitrative capital of a new eponymous cercle.[6] With access to the railroad, in the 1920s came more intensive cultivation of grains, peanuts and cotton. French colonial authorities made the town a major transport hub, and a number of buildings, including the rail station retain the colonial flavor.

The train ran until 2018, when it was forced out of service due to a lack of maintenance of the rails. As of January 2024, however, major upgrades are being done, with plans to relaunch passenger and freight service between Tambacounda and Dakar.[7]

Population and culture[edit]

Between the censuses of 1988 and 2002, Tambacounda grew from 41,885 to 67,543 inhabitants. In 2007, according to official estimates, the population reached 78,800 persons.

Settled first by Mandinka people, on the regular transhumance routes of Fula cattle herders, and settled again by Wolof farmers in the early 20th century, Tambacounda has a mix of most of the ethnic groups in Senegal.

The Tambacounda region is famous for its rich djembe and dance culture and heritage with some of the greatest djembe masters from Segu, Mali coming to Tambacounda in the mid 1900s, and brought with them their history, knowledge, and secrets of the djembe. Among the famous musicians from Tambacounda was drummer Abdoulaye Diakité.


As with most of Senegal, the population is overwhelmingly Muslim, with much of the Wolof population in the region tracing their roots to Mouride sufi adherents who were given wild grassland by the brotherhood to clear and settle at the beginning of the 20th century. There is a Roman Catholic Diocese of Tambacounda, but only 1.8% of the population of the region is Roman Catholic.


Train station, 2009

Besides the Dakar–Bamako railway, historically the city's major engine of growth, Tambacounda lies on the N1 and N7 roads. As a part of the Trans-Sahelian Highway system, these are critical for traffic going between the Kayes Region of Mali and the coastal regions of Sénégal (Dakar, Thiès, Saint-Louis), the most densely populated parts of both these nations. This east–west travel intersects with Senegal's most important route from Dakar to the Casamance region, which is cut off by Gambia. The road through Tambacounda is the only internal route between the two parts of the country that does not cross the Gambian border.

The town also has an airport, Tambacounda Airport, serviced by national and international flights.

A farm near Tambacounda.


Tambacounda is also a center for agricultural processing, with millet, sorgum, maize and cotton grown in the dry plains of the region. Sodefitex operates a large cotton processing plant in the town.


Tambacounda is the capital of Tambacounda Department (which includes three administrative regions) and the large Tambacounda Region.

Sites of interest[edit]

Niokolo-Koba National Park

The Niokolo-Koba National Park lies just to the south of the town, and is famed for its wildlife.

In 2003, the iron-framed rail station, the Hôtel de la Gare, and the colonial Préfecture building were placed on Senegal's list of Monuments historiques.[8]

Sister cities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "World Meteorological Organization Climate Normals for 1991-2020 — Tamba". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved January 10, 2024.
  2. ^ Galloway, Winifred (1975). A History of Wuli from the Thirteenth to the Nineteenth Century (History PhD). University of Indiana. p. 112.
  3. ^ a b Gomez, Michael (2002). Pragmatism in the Age of Jihad: The Precolonial State of Bundu (2nd ed.). UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521528474.
  4. ^ Traore 2021, pp. 307.
  5. ^ Traore 2021, pp. 311.
  6. ^ Traore 2021, pp. 309.
  7. ^ "Tambacounda : Relance du chemin de fer/ Un train a enfin sifflé à la gare ferroviaire". Echo Oriental. Retrieved 1 March 2024.
  8. ^ Arrêté du 27 mars 2003 Archived 2012-02-07 at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]


  • (in French) Sekna Cissé, Évolution de la population de Tambacounda 1915-1976. Essai d’interprétation, Université de Dakar, 1981, 85 p. (Mémoire de Maîtrise de géographie)
  • (in French) Mamadou Issa Diallo, Étude du vent d’une station synoptique, Tambacounda (1946-1975), Université de Dakar : 1983, 141 p. (Mémoire de Maîtrise de géographie)
  • (in French) Astou Diène, L’évolution économique du cercle de Tambacounda de 1919 à 1946, Université de Dakar : 1986, 99 p. (Mémoire de Maîtrise)
  • (in French) Pascal Handschuhmacher, « Tambacounda, une ville historique sans histoire ? » in Jean-Luc Piermay et Cheikh Sarr (dir.), La ville sénégalaise. Une invention aux frontières du monde, Paris, Karthala, 2007, p. 200-203 ISBN 978-2-84586-884-7
  • (in French) Abou Ndour, Monographie de la ville de Tambacounda des origines à l’indépendance (1960), Dakar, Université Cheikh Anta Diop, 1993, 63 p. (Mémoire de Maîtrise)
  • Traore, Mamadou (2021). "Les royaumes du Niani et du Wuli, des origines a la conquete coloniale". In Fall, Mamadou; Fall, Rokhaya; Mane, Mamadou (eds.). Bipolarisation du Senegal du XVIe - XVIIe siecle (in French). Dakar: HGS Editions. pp. 284–316.