Senegal Travel Information

Photo Independent from France in 1960, Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia in 1982. However, the envisaged integration of the two countries was never carried out, and the union was dissolved in 1989. Despite peace talks, a southern separatist group sporadically has clashed with government forces since 1982. Senegal has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping.

GEOGRAPHY
Senegal is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Mauritania, Mali, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau. The Gambia penetrates more than 320 kilometers (200 mi.) into Senegal. Well-defined dry and humid seasons result from northeast winter winds and southwest summer winds. Dakar's annual rainfall of about 61 centimeters (24 in.) occurs between June and October when maximum temperatures average 27oC (82oF); December to February minimum temperatures are about 17oC (63oF). Interior temperatures are higher than along the coast, and rainfall increases substantially farther south, exceeding 150 centimeters (60 in.) annually in some areas.

PEOPLE
About 70% of Senegal's population is rural. In rural areas, density varies from about 77 per square kilometer (200 per sq. mi.) in the west-central region to 2 per square kilometer (5 per sq. mi.) in the arid eastern section. About 50,000 Europeans (mostly French) and Lebanese reside in Senegal, mainly in the cities. French is the official language but is used regularly only by the literate minority. All Senegalese speak an indigenous language, of which Wolof has the largest usage.

HISTORY
Archaeological findings throughout the area indicate that Senegal was inhabited in prehistoric times. Islam established itself in the Senegal River valley in the 11th century; 95% of Senegalese today are Muslims. In the 13th and 14th centuries, the area came under the influence of the Mandingo empires to the east; the Jolof Empire of Senegal also was founded during this time.

ECONOMY
The former capital of French West Africa, Senegal is a semi-arid country located on the westernmost point of Africa. Predominantly rural and with limited natural resources, the country earns foreign exchange from fish, phosphates, peanuts, tourism, and services. Its economy is highly vulnerable to variations in rainfall and changes in world commodity prices. Senegal depends heavily on foreign assistance, which in 2000 represented about 32% of overall government spending--including both current expenditures and capital investments--or CFA 270.8 billion (U.S.$ 361.0 million).

Since the January 1994 CFA franc devaluation, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and other multilateral and bilateral creditors have been supporting the Government of Senegal’s structural and sectoral adjustment programs. The broad objectives of the program have been to facilitate growth and development by reducing the role of government in the economy, improving public sector management, enhancing incentives for the private sector, and reducing poverty.
U.S.-SENEGALESE RELATIONS
Senegal enjoys an excellent relationship with the United States. The Government of Senegal is known and respected for its able diplomats and has often supported the U.S. in the United Nations, including with troop contributions for peacekeeping activities. The United States maintains friendly relations with Senegal and provides considerable economic and technical assistance. About 300 Senegalese students come to the United States each year for study. President Diouf paid his first official visit to Washington, D.C., in August 1983 and traveled several times to the U.S. thereafter. In June 2001, President Wade met President Bush at the White House. Senegal hosted the Second African-African American Summit in 1995. First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton began her trip to Africa in March 1997 with a visit to Senegal, and President Clinton visited Senegal in 1998. Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Walter Kansteiner, visited Senegal in August 2001. Foreign Minister Gadio met Secretary of State Colin Powell in September and November 2001. Senegal took a strong position against terrorism in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks against the U.S., and in October 2001 hosted a conference establishing an African Pact Against Terrorism.

Important: Travel to Senegal may require a travel visa. Whether a visa is required for travel depends on citizenship and purpose of journey. Please be sure to review Travisa's Senegal visa instructions for details. Visa instructions for other countries are available on our do I need a visa page.

Country Statistics

Full country name: Republic of Senegal
Capital city: Dakar
Area: 196,722 sq km
Population: 12,969,606
Ethnic groups: Wolof 43.3%, Pular 23.8%, Serer 14.7%, Jola 3.7%, Mandinka 3%, Soninke 1.1%, European and Lebanese 1%, other 9.4%
Languages: French
Religions: Muslim 94%, Christian 5%
Government: republic
Chief of State: President Macky SALL
Head of Government: Prime Minister Abdoul MBAYE
GDP: 25.15 billion
GDP per captia: 2,000
Annual growth rate: 2.6%
Inflation: 3.4%
Agriculture: peanuts, millet, corn, sorghum, rice, cotton, tomatoes, green vegetables
Major industries: agricultural and fish processing, phosphate mining, fertilizer production, petroleum refining
Natural resources: fish, phosphates, iron ore
Location: Western Africa, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean, between Guinea-Bissau and Mauritania
Trade Partners - exports: Mali 21.9%, India 12.4%, France 4.6%, Italy 4.2%
Trade Partners - imports: France 16.7%, China 9.6%, UK 8.4%, Nigeria 8.3%, Netherlands 5.8%, US 4.8%