Facts & figures

Full name: Republic of Senegal

Population: 13.1 million (UN, 2012)

Capital: Dakar

Area: 196,722 sq km (75,955 sq miles)

Major language: French (official), Wolof

Major religion: Islam

Life expectancy: 59 years (men), 61 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 CFA (Communaute Financiere Africaine) franc = 100 centimes

Main exports: Fish, peanuts, petroleum products, phosphates, cotton

GNI per capita: US $1,070 (World Bank, 2011)

Internet domain: .sn

International dialling code: +221



President: Macky Sall

Mr Sall served as prime minister under his predecessor, Abdoulaye Wade

Macky Sall won presidential elections in March 2012, replacing President Abdoulaye Wade, who controversially ran for a third term in office.


Visa & travel advice

Visas for Senegal are required by all nationals referred to in the chart above.

Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Senegal.

Visa note:                      

A WHO vaccination card, with current yellow fever and cholera vaccinations, may be required if travelling from an endemic area.

In order to get your Senegalese visa, you must first pre-enroll online. Then you will print the registration receipt to carry with your passport and all the requirements to get the actual visa upon arrival at Dakar Leopold Sedar Senghor International Airport. Upon arrival at the airport the traveler must go to the "Visa Airport" area where biometric information will be taken and the visa will be printed and affixed to the passport. Upon arrival at the airport go to the "Visa Airport" area where you complete the biometric enrollment. The visa will then be printed and affixed to your passport.

When you arrive in Senegal you will need:

- The original Registration Receipt and Approval of pre-enrollment documents

- Passport valid for at least six months + a photocopy of the first five pages

- Round-trip or onward ticket or proof of departure

- Hotel confirmation or accommodation certificate (or a copy of proof of ownership if the traveler is the owner of the house to be visited in Senegal)

- Business travelers must also carry a letter of invitation from the company/person to be visited.

- A minor traveling alone must also have a notarized letter of parental consent.

According to the US Department of State, evidence of yellow-fever vaccination is also required for entry into Senegal. A meningitis vaccination is highly recommended if the traveler is arriving from or has recently traveled to an endemic area. Travelers unable to provide proof of vaccinations may be required to pay for and receive vaccinations at the Dakar airport.

Learn more about Senegal Visa Pre-Enrollment . 


  • Best period

We recommend visiting Senegal during its dry season, between December and April. Heavy rains during other times of the year mean that some national parks may close and overland travel can be difficult.

When planning your trip, you will want to take Ramadan into consideration. While the evening festivities are among the most exciting and memorable experiences available to visitors, most restaurants are closed during the day, and the country’s nightlife goes dormant for the monthlong fast. The dates of Ramadan are based on the lunar cycle and vary from year to year.

  • Safety

Be careful with money, particularly in the open-air markets of Dakar and other cities. Pickpockets occasionally attack in teams, so be alert and make sure that your purse or pockets have a snap or zipper. Highway robberies are sometimes committed in rural areas at night, so daytime travel is preferable.

The U.S. Department of State’s consular website has a great deal of information about safety in Senegal. Additionally, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation has created a security ratings system called the Ibrahim Index, wherein scores are based on each country’s quality of government. Before traveling to Senegal or anywhere on the continent, check the index and do your research.


The history of Senegal is commonly divided into a number of periods, encompassing the prehistoric era, the precolonial period, colonialism, and the contemporary era.

The Toucouleur people, among the early inhabitants of Senegal, converted to Islam in the 11th century, although their religious beliefs retained strong elements of animism. The Portuguese had some stations on the banks of the Senegal River in the 15th century, and the first French settlement was made at St.-Louis in 1659. Gorée Island became a major center for the Atlantic slave trade through the 1700s, and millions of Africans were shipped from there to the New World. The British took parts of Senegal at various times, but the French gained possession in 1840 and made it part of French West Africa in 1895. In 1946, together with other parts of French West Africa, Senegal became an overseas territory of France. On June 20, 1960, it formed an independent republic federated with Mali, but the federation collapsed within four months.

Arts & Culture

  • Music :

Senegal's music is best known abroad due to the popularity of mbalax, a development of Serer sabar drumming popularized by Youssou N'Dour.

During the colonial ages Senegal was colonized by France and many, though not all, Senegalese identified as French instead of any African ethnicity. Post-independence, the philosophy of negritude arose, which espoused the idea that the griot traditions of Senegal were as valid, classical and meaningful as French classical music. The first President of Senegal, Léopold Sédar Senghor (also a poet) was one of the primary exponents of this.

Ethnically the population of Senegal is 43.3% Wolof, 23.8% Fula, 14.7% Serer, 14.7% Jola, 3% Mandinka and 1.1% Soninka, with 1% European and Lebanese and 9.4% classed as "other" Senegalese music has been influenced by that of the Malian Empire though it tends to be fast and lively whereas the sounds of Malian griots are sedate, classical.


  • Literature

The Literature of Senegal is among the most important in West Africa. Most works are written in French, but there are also works in Arabic and Wolof.

Senegalese literature has long been known worldwide through the writing of poet and statesman Léopold Sédar Senghor, a great defender of the French language and of Negritude.

Other now-classic authors include novelists Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Birago Diop, Boubacar Boris Diop, and Ousmane Sembène. The latter is known for bringing some of his own novels to the screen. Major essayists include Cheikh Anta Diop and anthropologist Tidiane N'Diaye.

Women writers have been particularly active. In 1980, Mariama Bâ described polygamous society with great sensitivity in Une si longue lettre. Aminata Sow Fall, in La Grève des Bàttu (1986), showed that the lower classes were not without resources. More recently, Fatou Diome has found success with Le Ventre de l'Atlantique (2004), a novel depicting, often with humor, the dreams of escape of Senegalese youth.

  • Film industry

The cinema of Senegal is a relatively small film industry which experienced its prime from the 1960s through to the early 1980s, but has since declined to less than five feature films produced in the last ten years.

The first Senegalese film, Paulin Vieyra's L’Afrique sur Seine, was produced in 1955. Vieyra would follow up with further short films L’Afrique à Moscou (1957), Le Niger aujourd’hui (1958), Les présidents Senghor et Modibo Keita, Avec les Africaines à Vienne and "Présence Africaine" à Rome (1959) and Indépendance du Cameroun, Togo, Congo, Madagascar (1960), a documentary covering the independence of these countries.

  • Famous monuments

Maison des esclaves (House of slaves)



Great Mosque of Touba


African renaissance monument




  • Architecture history

Lebou fishing people who settled in Dakar in the eighteenth century were looking for a safe haven. They founded their new site in 1795 and called it Ndakarou. Dakar occupies the southern end of the Cap Vert peninsula. On a plateau about hundred feet above the sea, the administrative structures left from the colonial era include the Presidential Palace, City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce with its yellow bricks, and the Court House, which was built in 1906. The tall modern buildings, handsome residences.


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