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The name of this country of contrasts and colors comes from the river separating Senegal from Mauritania to the north…

 

Climate
Geography
Fauna and flora
Economics, politics

  Petite-côte Politics, religion

It also shares borders with Mali, Guinee, and the Atlantic ocean.

Population
Art and culture

Climate
Senegal’s climate is exceptional, which is probably one of the reasons you chose to vacation here.. The sun shines more than 3000 hours per year or about 340 days!!!! There are two seasons :

• The dry season from October to May is without rain with temperatures varying between 23° à 30-35° centigrade (80-95 F) on the coast and becoming warmer inland. The northern wind, the harmattan, blows occasionally during this period, carrying red and yellow sand, and coloring the countryside.

• The rainy season also called “wintering” runs from the end of June through September and is caracterised by violent but short downpours. The humidity level is high and the heat is more oppressive during the dry season. It is during this period that the landscape turns green, that seeds are planted and that when you can admire the tropical flora. The water temperature varies between 18 and 33 degrees centigrade (68-88 F)

The ocean temperature fluctuates between 18° and 33°.
January
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Geography
Spread on 196,192 square kilometers, (half the size of Texas), Senegal is relatively flat; predominently covered with sand dunes, especially along the coastline.Mountain lovers, beware! The north east offers the hills of Fouta-Djalon, in the Niokolo-Koba region, with the highest peak, Mount Assirik, culminating at 311 meters ! Attractive small cliffs can be found along the coast, notably near the town of Popenguine on the “Little-Coast”.

The landscape in the interior of the country is more arid, but in the South West, notably in Casamance, one can find more vegetation. Senegal resides within the northern hemisphere, near the Greenwich Meridian. Its capital is Dakar, which has approximately 3 million inhabitants.

arts du Sénégal

You will be able to observe the rich fauna and flora during your daytrips or in the various parcs of Djoudj, « langue de barbarie », Madeleine island, Niokolo-koba, the Saloum Delta, the reserves of Popenguine or Bandia, which even if smaller than the others still offers a certain interest.

Economics. Outside of the developing tourism industry ( 75% of tourists come from France), other sectors include fishing, market farming (peanuts, rice, millet, sugar canne…), canning, peanut oil, soap making, textile, and oil refining. Imports remain important with diverse products such as rice (the basic food staple) since Senegal is not able to be self sufficient. Farms are often run by families and without machinery, therefore with small outputs. Animal husbandry is also an important component of the economy, consisting of 8 million animals, mainly sheep and cattle.

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Politics : Senegal is a democratic secular republic. After Abdulaye Wade, its current president Macky SALL was elected in 2012 for 5 year term. The country obtained its independence in 1960 and Leopold Sedar Senghor, a poet and politician, became its first president.

Religion: Senegal is 90% Muslim and the remaining 10% of the population is Christian or Animist. Certain regions such as Thies, Fatik, and Kaolac are Catholic in majority.

These different groups truly live together and tolerate each other. Religion plays an important part in daily life. Numerous religious celebrations (Source: senegalaisement.com) take place during the year and at those time, the Senegalese spend most of their budget since those celebrations are expensive (food, costumes, gifts, ..)

Marabouts: Three kinds of marabouts exist in Senegal.:

  • Marabouts “de ficelles” (string marabout) who are considered charlatans.
  • Animist marabouts who are more like fortune tellers are consultedfor luck, to get advice on love matters, and to prevent diseases.
  • And the religious marabouts . Mostly muslims, often well known figures, these are taken seriously. They host “talibés” who are often orphans and required to beg in order to be fed. Certain well known religious marabouts who are fairly rich are increasing their influence in the political and social life in Senegal.

Population : Fifty five (55%) of the 12 million inhabitants lives in the countryside, 25% or 3 million in the capital Dakar. 55 % of the population is under 20 years old. Twenty -two ethnic groups can be found. The most well known are:

 

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  • The Wolofs represent 40% of the population, but 80% of the entire population speak their language, wolof. They have a hierarchical way of life and they can be found all across the country.
  • The Sereres, with 16% of the population, can be mostly found along the “little coast”, in Thies, and in the Sine Saloum region. They resisted the Islamization in the 12th century and fled the region around the Senegal river. Today, they are mostly Animists and Christians but have a tendency to convert to Islam.
  • The Lebou population is concentrated in the towns of Dakar, Yoff and on the” little coast”. The elders maintain the power and their system is fairly democratic when compared with the Wolofs.
  • The Peuls represent 13% of the population. They are nomads with herds of zebus (humped ox) travelling at the mercy of available pastures. Certain groups have settled but they do not mix with the nomads. The Peuls had initially resisted Islamization but are now converting to Islam. The humped ox is sacred. Children inherit the animals. Tradition, superstition, and legends are passed down from generation to generation.
  • The Toucouleurs (literally all-colors), comprise 10% of the population and live in the valley of the Senegal river. They are also nomads who promoted Islam, an effort that was not always appreciated by other ethnic groups.
  • The Diolas, also representing 10% of the population, have settled in the Casamance region. They are Animists and/orCchristians and also fought against Islamization.
  • The Maldingues are spread across West Africa. Their strict hierarchical system does not allow women and children to take part in many activities. During the development of West Africa, they also participated in the Islamization effort.
  • The Bassaris are few in numbers and live in the south-east part of the country, in the bush. They have kept their ancestral traditions and rites. They are farmers and hunters.

    Several other etnic group make up the population such as the Diallonkés, Bédiks, Balantes, Mankagnes, Manjaks, baïnouks, Pépels… They all contribute in the making of a multi-ethnic, multi-tradition, multiculture, multi-belief system country. The diversity of these groups is an added richness for Senegal.

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Art and Culture :
Music and dance : You will be able to meet many famous musicians such as Youssou Ndour, Ismaël LO, Baaba Maal, The Guissé brothers, Nakodgjé, Tidiane and Dieuf Djeul, Doudou N’Dyaye, a popular rap group named PBS, Toure Kunda, and many less known others. Music is an integral part of life in Africa. These musicians entertain the entire country using modern and traditional rythms. The Mbalax is a traditional wolof rhythm and a musical reference in Africa upon which one can add other rythms such as: folk, salsa, reggae, jazz, etc. But the fans of pure jazz, afro-jazz, and typical music will find that also.

musique du Sénégalsabar rythmes du Sénégaldjembe
The traditional instrument of Senegal is not the Djembe or the Tam-tam that were used to communicate in the past, but the longer Sabar played with a stick. Another type of Sabar, the Gorong Yeguel, is smaller and played sitting down.
It is harder to hear those instruments played spontaneously in the street. But during certain ceremonies, organized events, or by strolling at dusk in the centre of villages, you have a chance to encounter its sound…
Hand made African art and decoration is mostly present in objects such as jewelry, leather items, wood or iron sculptures, glass covered paintings (called suuwere), masks, regular paintings, murals, cloths, etc..
Often, popular artists are asked to inform the illiterate population through their drawings about potential risks and methods of prevention of diseases such as malaria, aids and cholera. Sometimes they are also use for political propaganda.

The Senegalese cinema produces short films and feature movies shown in the country as well as in foreign countries. Unfortunately, local movie directors cannot afford the large budgets nor meet the requirements to be recognized by festivals such as Cannes, Berlin, or Hollywood. As a result, movie houses are disappearing in Senegal even though a demand exists from the Senegalese public longing for movies that touch and represent their lives.

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Gastronomy : The base of Senegalese cooking is rice or millet, spicy and complemented with fish or lamb. You could be invited to share a meal with a family. They eat one dish, placed in the middle of the table or on the carpet if they eat on the floor, and everyone helps him or herself.
The two most typical dishes are the “Tieboudienne” made of rice with fish, and “Poulet yassa” which is chicken with onions. Millet is also used frequently in cooking. It is served mashed, as a couscous, or in small balls. Meat from the Zebu is cooked for special occasions because it is more expensive than other meats. Fish remains the principal dish.

Sports : Football (soccer) and traditional wrestling are the two main sports. Many tournaments are organised throughout the country.
Exercise is not done inside gyms, as in rich countries (although some are being developed) but in nature, along the ocean or in the countryside.

 

Enjoy your DISCOVERIES !!!


 

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