Senegal is bordered by the North African country of Mauritania in the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest. Senegal further borders the country of The Gambia, a sovereign enclave 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 the country of Cape Verde. Senegal’s economical 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 climate is Sahelian, but there is a rainy season (It is a transitional ecoregion of semi-arid grasslands, savannas, steppes, and thorn shrublands lying between the Savanna to the south and the Sahara to the north.
Official Name. Republic of Senegal
Capital and Largest City. Dakar 14°40′N 17°25′W
Language. French. National Languages: Balanta-Ganja, Hassaniya Arabic, Jola-Fonvi, Mandinka, Mandiak, Mankanya, Noon, Pusar, Serer, Soninke, Wolof
Ethnic groups: Wolof 43$, Fula 23.8%, Serer 14.7%, Jola 3.7%, Mandinka 3%, Soninke 1.1%, European/Lebanese 1%, others 9.4%.
Government. Semi-presidential republic. Parliament with Senate and National Assembly
Area. 196,712 sq. km (76,000 sq. mi)
Population. 13,550,000. Density 68.7/sq. km
GDP 2016. Total 38.912 billion, Per capita $2,525
Money. CFA franc (XOF)
VISAS. Visa requirements are in flux and Senegal now requires that visitors from nations that require entry visas from Senegalese citizens are required to obtain a visa for travel to Senegal. This includes citizens of the EU, EEA, Switzerland, Canada, USA and Australia. Tourist visas for one to three months cost between US$30 to US$80.
Visa Extensions. If you don’t need a visa, just hop across the Gambian border and earn another three months on re-entry to Senegal.
CULTURES & INFLUENCES
The territory of modern Senegal has been inhabited by various ethnic groups since Prehistory. Organized kingdoms emerged around the seventh century, and parts of the country were ruled by prominent regional empires such as the Jolof Empire. The present state of Senegal has its roots in European colonialism, which began during the mid-15th century, when various European powers began competing for trade in the area. The establishment of coastal trading posts gradually led to control of the mainland, culminating in French rule of the area by the 19th century, albeit amid much local resistance. Senegal peacefully attained independence from France in 1960, and has since been among the more politically stable countries in Africa.
Senegal’s economy is centered mostly on commodities and natural resources. Major industries are fish processing, phosphate mining, fertilizer production, petroleum refining, construction materials, ship construction and repair. As in most African nations, agriculture is a major sector, with Senegal producing several important cash crops, including peanuts,sugarcane, cotton, green beans, tomatoes, melons, and mangoes. Owing to its relative stability, tourism and hospitality are also burgeoning sectors.
A multiethnic and secular nation, Senegal is predominantly Sunni Muslim with Sufi and animist influences. French is the official language, although many native languages are spoken and recognized. Since April 2012 Senegal’s president has been Macky Sall. Senegal has been a member of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie since 1970.
Etymology. Senegal is named after the Senegal River, stems from the Wolof phrase sunu gaal, which means “our canoe”. The “our canoe” theory has been popularly embraced in modern Senegal for its charm and its use in appeals to national solidarity (e.g. “we’re all in the same canoe”) are frequently heard in the media.
Early and pre-colonial eras. Senegal was inhabited in prehistoric times and has been continuously occupied by various ethnic groups. Some kingdoms were created around the 7th century: Takrur in the 9th century, Namandiru and the Jolof Empire during the 13th and 14th centuries. The Jolof Empire united Cayor and the kingdoms of Baol, Sine, Saloum, Waalo, Futa Tooro and Bambouk as a voluntary confederacy rather than an empire built on military conquest but collapsed around 1549. The Empire of Senegal was also founded during this time. In the Senegambia region, between 1300 and 1900, close to one-third of the population was enslaved, typically as a result of captives taken in warfare. Eastern Senegal was once part of the Ghana Empire.
Islam was introduced through Toucouleur and Soninke contact with the Almoravid dynasty of the Maghreb, who in turn propagated it. The Almoravids, with the help of Toucouleur allies, used military force for conversion. This movement faced resistance from ethnicities of traditional religions, the Serers in particular.
Europeans. In the mid-15th century, the Portuguese landed on the Senegal coastline, followed by traders representing other countries, including the French. Various European powers—Portugal, the Netherlands, and Great Britain—competed for trade in the area from the 15th century onward. In 1677, France gained control of what had become a minor departure point in the Atlantic slave trade—the island of Gorée next to modern Dakar, used as a base to purchase slaves from the warring chiefdoms on the mainland.
European missionaries introduced Christianity to Senegal and the Casamance in the 19th century. It was only in the 1850s that the French began to expand onto the Senegalese mainland – they had abolished slavery and promoted an abolitionist doctrine-,[ adding native kingdoms like the Waalo, Cayor, Baol, and Jolof Empire. French colonists progressively invaded and took over all the kingdoms except Sine and Saloum under Governor Louis Faidherbe. Senegalese resistance to the French expansion and curtailing of their lucrative slave trade was led in part by Lat-Dior, Damel of Cayor, and Maad a Sinig Kumba Ndoffene Famak Joof, the Maad a Sinig of Sine, resulting in the Battle of Logandème.
Independence. On 4 April 1959 Senegal and the French Sudan merged to form the Mali Federation, which became fully independent on 20 June 1960. Due to internal political difficulties, the Federation broke up on 20 August, when Senegal and French Sudan (renamed the Republic of Mali) each proclaimed independence.
Léopold Sédar Senghor was proclaimed Senegal’s first president. Senghor was a very well-read man, educated in France. He was a poet, a philosopher and personally drafted the Senegalese national anthem, “Pincez tous vos koras, frappez les balafons”. Pro-African, he advocated a brand of African socialism. In 1980, President Senghor decided to retire from politics. The next year, he transferred power in 1981 to his hand-picked successor, Abdou Diouf.
Senegal joined with the Gambia to form the nominal Senegambia Confederation on 1 February 1982. However, the union was dissolved in 1989. Despite peace talks, a southern separatist group (Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance or MFDC) in the Casamance region has clashed sporadically with government forces since 1982 in the Casamance conflict. In the early 21st century, violence has subsided and President Macky Sall held talks with rebels in Rome in December 2012.
Abdou Diouf was president for 4 terms between 1981 and 2000. He encouraged broader political participation, reduced government involvement in the economy, and widened Senegal’s diplomatic engagements, particularly with other developing nations. Domestic politics on occasion spilled over into street violence, border tensions, and a violent separatist movement in the southern region of the Casamance. Nevertheless, Senegal’s commitment to democracy and human rights strengthened.
In the presidential election of 1999, opposition leader Abdoulaye Wade defeated Diouf in an election deemed free and fair by international observers. Senegal experienced its second peaceful transition of power, and its first from one political party to another. On 30 December 2004 President Wade announced that he would sign a peace treaty with the separatist group in the Casamance region. This, however, has yet to be implemented. There was a round of talks in 2005, but the results have not yet yielded a resolution. The current president is Macky Sall, elected in March 2012.
Senegal is a republic with a presidency; the president is elected every five years as of 2001 (previously seven). Senegal has more than 80 political parties. The unicameral parliament consists of the National Assembly, which has 150 seats and the senate was dissolved in 2012. An independent judiciary also exists in Senegal. The nation’s highest courts that deal with business issues are the constitutional council and the court of justice, members of which are named by the president.
Political culture. A quasi-democratic political culture, one of the more successful post-colonial democratic transitions in Africa. Marabouts, religious leaders of the various Muslim brotherhoods of Senegal, also exercise a strong political influence in the country especially during Wade’s presidency. In 2009, Freedom House downgraded Senegal’s status from ‘Free’ to ‘Partially Free’, based on increased centralisation of power in the executive. However, it has since recovered its Free status by 2014.
In 2008, Senegal finished in 12th position on the Ibrahim Index of African Governance. The Ibrahim Index is a comprehensive measure of African governance (limited to sub-Saharan Africa until 2008), based on a number of different variables which reflect the success with which governments deliver essential political goods to their citizens. 2008 position was 15th; 2012 was 16th out of 52 African countries.
In the 2012 presidential election, Macky Sall won in a peaceful and democratic transition hailed by many foreign observers as a show of “maturity”.
In 2012, lawmakers voted to do away with the Senate to save an estimated $15 million.
Foreign relations. Senegal has a high profile in many international organizations, is friendly to the West, especially to France and to the United States. Senegal enjoys mostly cordial relations with its neighbors. In spite of clear progress on other fronts with Mauritania (border security, resource management, economic integration, etc.), there remains the problem of an estimated 30,000 Afro-Mauritanian refugees living in Senegal.
Military. 19,000 personnel. Military noninterference in political affairs has contributed to Senegal’s stability. Senegal has participated in many international and regional peacekeeping missions. In 2015, Senegal participated in the Saudi Arabian-led military intervention in Yemen against the Shia Houthis.
Law. Senegal is a secular state, as defined in its Constitution. To fight corruption, the government has created an anti-corruption office.
Senegal is located on the west of the African continent. It lies between latitudes 12° and 17°N, and longitudes 11° and 18°W. Senegal is externally bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, and Guinea and Guinea-Bissau to the south; internally it almost completely surrounds The Gambia, namely on the north, east and south, except for Gambia’s short Atlantic coastline.
The Senegalese landscape consists mainly of the rolling sandy plains of the western Sahel which rise to foothills in the southeast (Senegal’s highest point is an unnamed feature near Nepen Diakha at 584m. The northern border is formed by the Senegal River, other rivers include the Gambia and Casamance Rivers. The capital Dakar lies on the Cap-Vert peninsula, the westernmost point of continental Africa.
The Cape Verde islands lie some 560 kilometres (350 mi) off the Senegalese coast, but Cap-Vert (“Cape Green”) is a maritime placemark, set at the foot of a 105-metre (344 ft) cliff resting at one end of the Cap-Vert peninsula.
Climate. Senegal has a tropical climate with pleasant heat throughout the year with well-defined dry and humid seasons that result from northeast winter winds and southwest summer winds. The dry season (December to April) is dominated by hot, dry, harmattan wind. Dakar’s annual rainfall of about 600 mm (24 in) occurs between June and October when maximum temperatures average 30 °C.
On the border of Mali where desert begins, temperatures can reach as high as 54 °C. The northernmost part of the country has a near hot desert climate, the central part has a hot semi-arid climate and the southernmost part has a tropical wet and dry climate. Senegal is mainly a sunny and dry country.
After its economy contracted by 2.1 percent in 1993 Senegal instituted a major economic reform program with the support of international donors. This reform began with a 50 percent devaluation of the country’s currency (the CFA franc). Government price controls and subsidies were also dismantled. As a result, Senegal’s inflation went down, investment went up, and the gross domestic product rose approximately 5 percent per year between 1995 and 2001.
The main industries include food processing, mining, cement, artificial fertilizer, chemicals, textiles, refining imported petroleum, and tourism. Exports include fish, chemicals, cotton, fabrics, groundnuts, and calcium phosphate. The principal foreign market is India at 26.7 percent of exports (as of 1998). Other foreign markets include the United States, Italy and the United Kingdom.
Senegal has a 12-nautical-mile (22 km; 14 mi) exclusive fishing zone that has been regularly breached in recent years (as of 2014). It has been estimated that the country’s fishermen lose 300,000 tonnes of fish each year to illegal fishing. The Senegalese government have tried to control the illegal fishing which is conducted by trawlers, some of which are registered in Russia, Mauritania, Belize and Ukraine.
Senegal realized full Internet connectivity in 1996, creating a mini-boom in information technology-based services. Private activity now accounts for 82 percent of its GDP. On the negative side, Senegal faces deep-seated urban problems of chronic high unemployment, socioeconomic disparity, and juvenile delinquency.
Senegal is a major recipient of international development assistance. Donors include the United States, Japan, France and China. Over 3000 Peace Corps Volunteers have served in Senegal since 1963.
Senegal has a population of over 13.5 million, about 42 percent of whom live in rural areas. Density in these areas varies from about 77 inhabitants per square kilometre in the west-central region to 2 per square kilometre in the arid eastern section.
Ethnic groups. Senegal has a wide variety of ethnic groups and, as in most West African countries, several languages are widely spoken. The Wolof are the largest single ethnic group in Senegal at 43 percent; the Fula and Toucouleur (24%) are the second biggest group, followed by the Serer (14.7%), then others such as Jola(4%), Mandinka (3%), Maures or (Naarkajors), Soninke, Bassari and many smaller communities (9%).
About 50,000 Europeans (mostly French) and Lebanese as well as smaller numbers of Mauritanians and Moroccans reside in Senegal, mainly in the cities. The majority of Lebanese work in commerce. Also located primarily in urban settings are small Vietnamese communities as well as a growing number of Chinese immigrant traders, each numbering perhaps a few hundred people. There are also tens of thousands of Mauritanian refugees in Senegal, primarily in the country’s north, numbering approximately 23,800 in 2007. The majority of this population (20,200) is from Mauritania. Refugees live in N’dioum, Dodel, and small settlements along the Senegal River valley.
French is the official language, used regularly by only 10% of Senegalese educated in a system styled upon the colonial-era schools of French origin. Koranic schools are even more popular, but Arabic is not widely spoken outside of this context of recitation. Most people also speak their own ethnic language while, especially in Dakar, Wolof is the lingua franca, the native language of some Senegalese people, but you will find that almost everyone speaks it. Knowing the basic Wolof greetings and phrases will go a long way in getting you better service and prices. The basic Muslim greeting is often used: Salaam Aleikum – Peace to you. The response is Waleikum Salaam – And unto you peace.
Pulaar is spoken by the Fulas and Toucouleur. The Serer language is widely spoken by both Serers and non-Serers (including president Sall, whose wife is Serer); so are the Cangin languages, whose speakers are ethnically Serers. Jola languages are widely spoken in the Casamance. Several of the Senegalese languages have the legal status of “national languages”: Balanta-Ganja, Hassaniya Arabic, Jola-Fonyi, Mandinka, Mandjak, Mankanya, Noon (Serer-Noon), Pulaar, Serer, Soninke, and Wolof.
Portuguese Creole, locally known as Portuguese, is a prominent minority language in Ziguinchor, regional capital of the Casamance. Portuguese was introduced in Senegal’s secondary education in 1961 in Dakar.
French, the only official language in the country, is facing a backlash as a consequence of a rising Senegalese linguistic nationalist movement, which supports the integration of Wolof, the common vernacular language of the country, into the national constitution.
Largest cities. Senegal’s capital of Dakar is by far the largest city in Senegal, with over two million residents.[
Touba. In central Senegal, With a population of 529,000 in 2010, it is the second largest. It is the holy city of Mouridism and the burial place of its founder, Shaikh Aamadu Bàmba Mbàkke (1853-1927). In 1887, he founded Touba under a large tree when he experienced a cosmic vision of light. In Sufism, this symbolic tree represents an aspiration for spiritual perfection and closeness to God. The holy site remained a tiny, isolated place in the wilderness until his death and burial at the site of the Great Mosque, 40 years later. The Great Mosque was finally completed in 1963 and since its inauguration the city has grown at a rapid pace: from under 5,000 in 1964
Senegal’s most famous Sufi, was more than a spiritual master; he had a social mission as well, that of rescuing society from colonial alienation and returning it to the “Straight Path” of Islam. The city of Touba played a major role in both these endeavors.
Life in Touba is dominated by Muslim practice and Islamic scholarship. A major annual pilgrimage, called the Grand Magal, attracts between one and two million people from all over Senegal and beyond, from as far away as Europe and America. For Mourides, Touba is a sacred place. Forbidden in the holy city are all illicit and frivolous pursuits, such as the consumption of alcohol and tobacco, the playing of games, music and dancing. The Mouride order maintains absolute control over its “capital” to the exclusion of usual state-run civil and administrative services. The city constitutes an administratively autonomous zone with special legal status within Senegal. Every aspect of its city’s life and growth is managed by the order independently of the state, including education, health, supply of drinking water, public works, administration of markets, land tenure, and real estate development.
Great Mosque. One of the largest in Africa. Completed in 1963, has five minarets, three large domes and a 87-meter (285 ft) high central minaret, called Lamp Fall, one of Senegal’s most famous monuments and one of the finest examples of Islamic architecture in Africa.
Religion. Senegal is a secular state. Islam is practiced by approximately 94% of the country’s population. Majority of the Muslims in Senegal are Sunni with Sufi influences. 27% are nondenominational Muslims.[
the Christian community, at 5% of the population, are mostly Roman Catholics but there are still diverse Protestant denominations. One percent have animist beliefs, particularly in the southeastern region of the country. Some Serer people follow the Serer religion.
The Halpulaar (Pulaar-speakers), composed of Fula people, a widespread group found along the Sahel from Chad to Senegal, and Toucouleurs (differ only by being sedentary) represent 23.8 percent of the population. Historically, they were the first to become Muslim.
Most communities south of the Senegal River Valley, however, were not thoroughly Islamized. The Serer people stood out as one of this group, who spent over one thousand years resisting.
Today, most Senegalese children study at daaras for several years, memorizing as much of the Qur’an as they can.
There are small numbers of adherents of Judaism, Buddhism and Bahá’í Faith in Senegal (22,000).
Health. Life expectancy by birth is estimated to 57.5 years. The fertility rate was 4.1 in urban areas and 6.3 in rural areas. There were 6 physicians per 100,000 persons in the early 2000s (decade). Infant mortality was at 77 per 1,000 live births in 2005, but in 2013 this figure had dropped to 47 within the first 12 months after birth. In the past 5 years infant mortality rates of malaria have dropped. According to a 2013 UNICEF report, 26% of women in Senegal have undergone female genital mutilation.
Education. Education is compulsory and free up to the age of 16. The Ministry of Labor has indicated that the public school system is unable to cope with the number of children that must enrol each year. Illiteracy is high, particularly among women.
Senegal is well known for the West African tradition of storytelling, which is done by griots, who have kept West African history alive for thousands of years through words and music. The griot profession is passed down generation to generation and requires years of training and apprenticeship in genealogy, history and music. Griots give voice to generations of West African society.
The African Renaissance Monument built in 2010 in Dakar is the tallest statue in Africa.
Cuisine. Because Senegal borders the Atlantic Ocean, fish is very important. Chicken, lamb, peas, eggs, and beef are also used in Senegalese cooking, but not pork, due to the nation’s largely Muslim population. Peanuts, the primary crop of Senegal, as well as couscous, white rice, sweet potatoes, lentils, black-eyed peas and various vegetables, are also incorporated into many recipes. Meats and vegetables are typically stewed or marinated in herbs and spices, and then poured over rice or couscous, or eaten with bread.
Ceebu jen (or thebou diene) — rice and fish in two varieties (red and white — for the different sauces; diagga is served with extra sauce and fish balls). The national dish of Senegal.
Maafe – a rich, oily peanut-based sauce with meat that is served over white rice.
Yassa is a delicious onion sauce that is often served over rice and chicken – yassa poulet or with deep fried fish yassa jen.
Desserts are very rich and sweet, combining native ingredients with the extravagance and style characteristic of the French impact on Senegal’s culinary methods. They are often served with fresh fruit and are traditionally followed by coffee or tea.
Drink. Senegal doesn’t have a legal drinking/purchasing age for alcohol. Because of Islamic law, people in general are expected to not drink. Finding places that sell alcoholic beverages may be difficult.
Popular fresh juices are made from bissap, ginger, buy (pronounced ‘buoy’, which is the fruit of the baobab tree, also known as “monkey bread fruit”), mango, or other fruit or wild trees (most famously soursop, which is called corossol in French).
Music. Senegal is known across Africa for its musical heritage, due to the popularity of mbalax, which originated from the Serer percussive tradition especially the Njuup, it has been popularized by Youssou N’Dour and others. Sabar drumming is especially popular. The sabar is mostly used in special celebrations like weddings. Another instrument, the tama, is used in more ethnic groups. Other popular international renown Senegalese musicians are Ismael Lô, Cheikh Lô, Orchestra Baobab, Baaba Maal, Akon Thione Seck, Viviane, Titi and Pape Diouf.
Hospitality. Hospitality, in theory, is given such importance in Senegalese culture that it is widely considered to be part of the national identity. The Wolof word for hospitality is “teranga” and it is so identified with the pride of Senegal that the national football team is known as the Lions of Teranga.
Wrestling. Wrestling is Senegal’s most popular sport[ and has become a national obsession. It traditionally serves many young men to escape poverty and it is the only sport recognized as developed independently of Western culture.
Football. Football is a popular sport in Senegal. In 2002, the team finished as runners-up at the Africa Cup of Nations and became one of only three African teams to ever reach the quarter-finals of the FIFA World Cup, defeating holders France in their first game. Popular players of this team included El-Hadji Diouf, Papa Bouba Diop, Khalilou Fadiga and Henri Camara, all of whom played in Europe.
Basketball. Basketball is also a popular sport in Senegal. The country has traditionally been one of Africa’s dominant basketball powers. The men’s teamperformed better than any other African nation at the 2014 FIBA World Cup, where they reached the playoffs for the first time. The women’s team won 19 medals at 20 African Championships, more than twice as many medals as any competitor.
Motorsport. The country hosted the Paris–Dakar rally from 1979 until 2007.
Unesco World Heritage Sites: 1. Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary 2. Island of Goree 3. Island of Saint-Louis 4. Niokolo-Koba NP 5. Saloum Delta 6. Stone Circles of Senegambia
Cities: Dakar: Capital city, Saint-Louis: Former capital of Senegal and French West Africa, Touba: Center of Mouride religious brotherhood
Ports and harboUrs. Matam, Podor, Richard Toll, Dakar, Palmarin
Places of religion and contemplation. Keur Moussa, Touba, Tivaouane
Interesting Islands. Fadiout + Joal, Ile de Gorée, Karabane
Nature reserves. Niokolo-Koba, Delta du Saloum, Parc National des oiseaux du Djoudj, Reserve de Palmarin, Fathala Reserve, (at Karang just north of the border to Gambia), Go an a 3-hour mini-safari in your own car or hire an off-road car at the reserve. You will see giraffes, rhinos, elands, antelopes, many birds.
Stone circles. Nioro du Rip, Keur Ali Lobé, Sali, Kau-Ur to Wassau, Ker Batch. These four large groups of stone circles represent an extraordinary concentration of over 1,000 monuments in a band 100 km wide along some 350 km of the River Gambia. The four group cover 93 stone circles and numerous tumuli, burial mounds, some of which have been excavated to reveal material that suggest dates between 3rd century BC and 16th century AD. It reflects a prosperous, highly organized and lasting society. They are Unesco listed.
Delta. Atlanta and JFK to Dakar
South African Airways flies direct from New York and Washington-Dulles
Other airlines route through Europe such as Brussels Airlines (Brussels), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul), Air Senegal International (Paris-Orly), Air France (Paris-CDG), Alitalia (Milan), Royal Air Maroc (Casablanca), Iberia (Madrid, Gran Canaria), TAP (Lisbon) and others (5.5 to 6 hours). There are flights from various parts of Africa operated by Arik (Lagos), Kenya Airways (Nairobi), Air Ivoire (Abidjan) and others.
Train. Dakar to Bamako, Mali has fallen into disrepair and no longer runs as of 2012.
Taxi. taxi-brousse, taxi-clando, car-charette, and transport commun (cars rapides). Buslines in Dakar and around Dakar are maintained by SOTRAC.
Sept places (French for “seven seats”). Literally questionable station wagons in which they will pack seven people so that you are basically sitting on the next person’s lap throughout the journey. If you are obviously a tourist, they will try to rip you off, so make sure to set a price before you agree to a driver. There are set prices to often-travelled locations.
Car. International Driving Permit (IDP) is necessary to rent a car.
Few street signs (mostly speed limits) and almost all of them are disregarded. Many streets are considered one way, but are never marked as such, and there are almost no stop signs. Heavy traffic areas such as Dakar are best left to experienced drivers and the bold. To get around, one must be willing to dart into traffic, or else, stay stuck at an intersection for a while.
Work. Projects Abroad is a volunteer organisation based in St Louis with opportunities to help out teaching English, caring for underprivileged children, teaching sport or being a human rights advocate amongst other things. Volunteers get to stay with local host families, which is a huge honour. Global Leadership Adventures and the Peace Corps, also do work in Senegal.
In the Casamance region of Senegal, a struggle goes on between the government and the MFDC or Mouvement des forces démocratiques de la Casamance. It would be wise to avoid travel to this area.
In Dakar, petty theft and scams are abundant: aggressive street vendors who will follow you for several blocks, if refused, often accusations of ‘racism” will be leveled at non-local, non-buyers. Pickpockets use the two-person tactic: the distractor grabs your clothing, beware the person on the other side more. Be cautious of people claiming to have met you before or offering to guide you. Women are frequently targeted at beaches or markets.
Street stall vendors grab cash out of non-local shoppers hands and quickly stuffing the money into their own pocket. After the money is in their pocket, they claim it is theirs and the victim is not in a position to prove otherwise or protest effectively. Be careful with your cash: do not hold it in your hand while bargaining.
Carry some sort of identification on you (a copy of a passport is recommended). Police may try to bribe you or take you to the station. While most of the time, they are bluffing and one should not give into such corruption, some officials may be wicked enough to do so.
Stay healthy. Take anti-malarials. Avoid tap-water, and all dishes prepared with them.
Respect. The primary religion in Senegal is Islam, and most Senegalese are extremely devout Muslims. Greet everyone when entering a room with “Salaam Aleikum.” Always shake hands with everyone. Foreign women can expect to get many marriage proposals from Senegalese men. Handle this with a sense of humour – and caution.
Anything shorter than knee length is inappropriate. Tank tops are generally accepted in larger towns, but should be avoided as much as possible.