Saloum includes flat, swampy tideland areas inland from the Saloum River delta. In recent years large areas of mangrove growth have been destroyed. There was a flourishing industry of salt-manufacture at the salt flats along the delta. Originally, Saloum extended south to the north banks of the Gambia River.
The original population was overrun by the Serer in the 11th century, arriving from the Kingdom of Tekrur in the Senegal River Valley in the North. During the Gelwaar period from the 15th century to the present, over 100 kings have been enthroned. The Portuguese contacted the kingdom in 1590. The Kingdom of Saloum conquered the neighboring Kingdom of Sine and controlled it for a long period, during which the area became known as "Sine-Saloum", but it was later split again. Saloum also had control, for a time, of the Kingdom of Baol. Although the kingdom won some major battles with the French, it was eventually conquered in 1850. The kings continued to hold their traditional court in Kahone, but the city was eclipsed commercially by neighboring Kaolack.
The military power of Saloum had been built on its involvement in the slave trade and the goods it received from the Europeans in exchange for slaves. After the end of the slave trade it entered the ground nut trade, exporting large quantities of nuts to Europe.
The current king of Saloum (as of 2002) is King Mbaye Badiane I. He is assisted by various co-rulers such as the Djaaraf of Saloum (Fode Yacinthe NDour) and the Farba (El Hadji Malick Sarr). Their court is held at the capital, Kahone. The king also has a tributary "sub-king" (or "Bour Gandiaye") at the town of Gandiaye, in Saloum, who maintains his own miniature court.
Saloum is known for its many ancient burial mounds or "tumuli" containing the graves of kings and others. Also, the kingdom has numerous mysterious stone circles whose functions and history are unknown.
Ethnically, the Saloum kingdom has been Serer, but gradually the Wolof have become more dominant, especially in the peanut-growing areas around Kaolack. The Serer-Sine and Wolof languages are both widely spoken in Saloum.