|Though ancient historically, Senegal came to European attention in the 15th century. Portugal was the first country to try to exert its hegemony over the area, but soon found itself in competition with the British, Dutch, and French. French control was virtually unchallenged after 1659. Senegal became a French colony in the 20th century. It was not until 1946 that a territorial assembly was set up with powers that gradually were extended over the next years. Independence was achieved in 1960 after Senegal seceded from the newly created Federation of Mali. Leopold Sedar Senghor became the president. He retired from office over two decades later and his successor, Adbou Diouf, has been in office ever since -- in fact, in 1998 Parliament passed a law permitting him to be president for life! Although there have been some problems with the northern region of the country (where a separatist movement exists), Senegal has enjoyed a largely stable and relatively prosperous commercial life.