Welcome to Senegal

Senegal is one of the most visited countries in western Africa. My country is very colourful, particularly in its fashions. Senegalese people take a pride in their long and patterned traditional clothes. But we also embrace the modern; in the capital of Dakar, there are many dance clubs.

Women

A woman’s status varies by country and region across Africa. In many parts, women struggle against inequality in laws, education, pay and domestic responsibilities.

Women’s health is also at risk from traditional practices such as early marriage. But with better education, girls can make more informed choices, leading to the greater development of African nations.

Poverty

Across the rest of the world, absolute poverty has halved over recent decades, but in Africa it has barely fallen.

About two-fifths of the population of sub-Saharan Africa survive week by week on what someone in the UK earns from just one hour's work on the minimum wage.

Fighting for her children

Fighting Spirit

Many young women are forced into marriage at an early age. This means their education stops and they face the increased dangers of childbirth. Meet a courageous woman who was forced into marriage at just 13, but is making sure her daughters have a different future.

Senegal Map

Explore Senegal

Senegal is one of the most popular destinations in West Africa. Find out more about some of the country's interesting places to visit.

Beggars

Life on the streets

In Senegal, thousands of child beggars roam the streets of Dakar. Some belong to an age-old religious tradition where they are sent out by holy men called Marabouts. But many are orphans or children of poor families who cannot afford to feed them.

Children's stories

'The Begging' and 'The Violence'

The children at the SOS Children’s Village in Kaolack made their own films. Their poignant stories reflect experiences in the children's lives. Watch and see what they came up with.

Poverty & Healthcare

Rural areas suffer

The government spends nearly 12% of its budget on healthcare, funding vaccination programmes and campaigns to fight malaria and HIV/AIDS. Other types of medical care have to be paid for and with a shortage of doctors in rural areas, communities often rely on local healers and traditional medicines.

Climate & Agriculture

Tropical weather

The peanut (also known as the groundnut) is the most important local crop in Senegal. In the wetter southern half of the country, millet, maize (corn), sorghum and rice are also grown, as well as cassava, beans, sweet potatoes and many varieties of fruit.

Children

Around one in six children born in sub-Saharan Africa don't live to see their fifth birthday and life can be tough for those who do.

What are the common challenges facing African children and how do their lives compare with those of children in the UK?

Education & Jobs

Investing in schools

In recent years, Senegal has focused on improving education, with a countrywide program of state-funded nurseries and free universal access to schooling. However poverty is still a barrier preventing many children from staying in education.

Development

‘People are the real wealth of a nation.’ This is the belief of the United Nations, whose Millenium Development Goals provide a framework for improving the lives of millions.

It helps when nations are peaceful, stable and growing economically. But where even the poorest countries focus on health, education and creating fairer societies, more Africans have the chance of a better life.

Games & Sport

Africa is home to arguably the oldest-recorded games and sports. While some are only known through archaeology, modern-day games and sports such as Mancala/Mankala and Nubian wrestling are very much alive today.

Of course, new sports have come along to claim the attention of Africans. You may have heard of one - it's called football.

People & Culture

Music lovers

Over ten main ethnic groups live in Senegal. The Wolof are the largest, making up nearly half of the population. Music, both traditional and modern, plays an important part in the life of many.

Tourism & Communications

A popular destination

With its tropical sandy beaches and stable environment, Senegal has become a popular tourist destination.  Nearly a million foreigners visit Senegal each year.

Economy & Industry

Reliance on agriculture

Agriculture employs around three-quarters of people in Senegal. Many of the country’s factories are involved with the processing and refining of produce. Pre-prepared food products are currently the country’s top earning agricultural-based exports.

Welcome to Senegal

Hi, I'm Abdourahmane. Welcome to Senegal!

I think Senegal is a beautiful and welcoming country, and also an unusual one. For example, did you know that wrestling is very much part of our culture? One match can attract 80,000 spectators and millions of TV viewers. Personally, I like karate and basketball. I want to be a basketball player when I’m older.

Foods

Africa has some of the most distinctive cuisines and flavours in the world. Food varies widely, but there are commonalities across regions. Depending on what's grown locally, dishes are also influenced by the traders, immigrants and rulers who settled across the continent. Arab, Asian and European elements blend in with traditional African cooking.

Climate

Africa is a massive continent, with a range of climates. Some regions are hot and dry, like the Sahara, Kalahari and Namib deserts. Other parts are wet or covered in tropical rainforest. Conditions also vary by altitude, from the dry salt pans of the Danakil Depression (one of the lowest points on earth) to the snowcaps (at certain times) of the highest mountains. Weather-wise, Africa has it all!

Wrestling

Undisputed champions

Wrestling is a king of sports in Senegal. Many boys go straight to the wrestling ring for pratice after school – not the football pitch – with dreams of becoming a famous wrestler when they're older.

Fashion

Appearance is everything

The Senegalese take pride in their appearance and are proud of their traditional clothes. Even the poorest of people will be dressed to the nines.

Agriculture & Famine

A quarter of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is undernourished and famines can impact whole regions.

Land is available to grow more food locally, but investment is needed in  technologies such as irrigation for land to be used effectively. Farmers must also adapt to climate change if they are to feed the continent's rising population.

Facts & Figures

Life expectancy

While average life expectancy in most countries of West Africa is in the 50s (or below), Senegalese people can expect to live to 62 years of age on average.

Food & Daily life

A country of contrasts

Around a fifth of Senegal’s population live in the capital of Dakar, a place of contrasts. Large 4x4s drive alongside horse-carts and sky scrapers rise up over poor shanty-towns. Much of society remains deeply traditional, yet the city pulses at night from its many dance clubs.

Geography & Wildlife

Flat and dry

Senegal is a flat low-lying country, with a dry north and green south. Along the coast, the deltas of its main rivers form unique and important wildlife areas.

Griot

A man like no other

In Senegal, the Griot is a man of many talents – a story teller, a counsellor, a musician and a keeper of history. He keeps track of the history of his community and the families within it.

Geography & Wildlife

With its varied geography and diverse habits, the African continent is home to a wide range of flora and fauna. Though famous for its 'big game' animals, Africa has huge numbers of fish, mammal, bird, reptile, amphibian and insect species, as well as many tree, plant and flower species.

Henna

Painting with Henna

Going to a beauty salon isn't necessary for girls in Senegal. They can take a short walk to the bottom of the garden to find the nearest henna plant for decorating their hands. Well, there is a little more to it than that!

History

The first humans are thought to have lived in Africa and powerful African empires formed from the medieval age onwards.

However, today's African nations were shaped by the European powers who colonised this vast continent. Having gained their independence, many African countries are still coming to terms with the legacy left by their colonisers.

History & Politics

Stable and democratic

In 1659, the French colony of Saint-Louis was founded along the coast and a unique Franco-African culture formed, with French traders marrying mixed-race Senegalese. Senegal became fully independent from France in 1964 and adopted a multi-party system of government from the 1970s.

Health

Africa has a high number of communicable diseases, which place a huge burden on healthcare systems. The vast majority of malaria cases and HIV/AIDS-related deaths occur in Africa; these two diseases currently represent the greatest threats.

With low investment in healthcare and a severe shortage of medical staff, many countries struggle to meet the health needs of their people.

Senegal topics Facts & Figures Poverty & Healthcare Food & Daily life Fashion People & Culture Geography & Wildlife Climate & Agriculture Henna Beggars Welcome to Senegal Fighting for her children Economy & Industry Griot Education & Jobs Children's stories History & Politics Wrestling Senegal Map Tourism & Communications