Senegal Country Guide

Senegal has much to offer the independent traveller, 700km of fine white sandy beaches, multiple games parks and reserves, modern and exciting cities and a music scene to rival any region. There are many international events such as the St Louis International Music Festival and The Dakar Rally, both held annually.

Visitors to Senegal are warmly received as the Senegalese people pride themselves on practicing their legendary sense of hospitality, the Senegalese 'Teranga'.

To check out things to see & do in our destinations, visit our Dakar & Saint Louis Destination Guide and Petite Cote & Saly Destination Guide. For more general country travel information, see the information provided below to assist you with all you need to know to plan your holiday!

We recommend you read about travel in Senegal on GoNOMAD.

Check out the latest Senegal Travel features on YouTube.

Senegal Country Guide

Useful information on this page includes:

National Motto Top

Un Peuple, Un But, Une Foi - One People, One Goal, One Faith.

Climate/Weather Top

Follow the link to our Senegal weather page for some useful information about the climate and weather in Senegal along with a comprehensive six-day Dakar weather forecast, the ideal tool to help you plan your weekly activities.

Communication Top

The country code to dial in to Senegal is +221.  The outgoing dialling code is 00 followed by the country code you are dialling to. Senegal has one of the most advanced telephone systems in Africa.  There are two providers for mobile phone coverage. Internet connection is available in the major cities.

Electricity Top

The electrical current is 220 volts, frequency 50 Hertz. Round two-pin plugs(C) are most widely used.

Embassy Locations Top

To view a list of Senegalese embassies around the world, as well as foreign embassies within Senegal, click on this link to

General Information Top

Population - 12.5 million people
Total area - 196,190 km²
Capital - Dakar (1.7 million people)
Time Zone - Local time is GMT.

To view the current time in Dakar, click on this link to

Language Top

The official language of Senegal is French. The are also six national languages, of which Wolof is the most widely spoken. Unlike many African languages, Wolof is not a tonal language, so it is a little bit easier to learn key phrases.

Some common phrases in both French and Wolof are:

Hello = Bonjour  or Diama ngma
Goodnight =  Bonsoir or Fanane diam
How are you? = Comment tu t'appelles? or Naga def?
I'm good = Je vais bien or Mangi fi rek
What is your name? = Comment tu t'appelles? or Nanga toud?
My name is... = Je m'appelle... or  ... la tudah.
I come from... = Je suis de... or Mangi deka fi...
Excuse me/pardon = Pardon or Balal ma.
How much does this cost? = Combien ça coûte? or Bi niata?
That's too expensive. = C'est trop cher or Cher na trop.
Thank you = Merci or Dieuredieuf.

Public Holidays Top

Follow the link to view a current list of public holidays in Senegal.

Duty Free Top

Travellers over the age of 18 are able to purchase 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g tobacco or tobacco products, perfume or gifts to the value of CFA 5000 without paying duty tax. Spirits and alcohol are not duty free.

Visas/Passports Top

Citizens of the US, UK, Europe, Canada, South Africa and Ireland are required to hold a passport valid for 3 months, a visa is not required for a stay of up to three months.

Citizens of Australia and New Zealand are required to hold a passport valid for 3 months, a visa is required for all stays.

All visitors must have a return airline ticket or onward ticket before entering Senegal.

US citizens that need to renew, add pages, change name, or just get a new US passport, can Apply for a New US Passport here.

Geography Top

Senegal is located in West Africa between Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, The Gambia and the North Atlantic Ocean taking up a land mass of over 196,000sq km. Senegals terrain is mostly low rolling plains; its highest point is an unnamed feature that rises to a mere 581m.  Its lowest point is the Atlantic Ocean at 0m.

History Top

Europeans first landed on the shores of Senegal in the 15th century.  Up until this time, Senegal was a country of varied rule with numerous tribal empires. Senegal officially became a French colony in 1948, though it had been under French rule since the 17th century, when French trading posts were established along the coast line. 

Senegal gained independence from France in 1960, electing Léopold Sédar Senghor, a key player in the independence movement and gifted poet, to be Senegal's first president. Senegals current president is Abdoulaye Wade. Since independence, Senegal has become one of the most politically stable and safe countries of Africa.

Location Top

Senegal lies in Western Africa and is bordered by the North Atlantic Ocean, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau and The Gambia. To view a map of Senegal, click on this link to

Health Top

The most common complaint from visitors to Senegal relate to gastric and intestinal issues.  As the water is not purified, be sure to drink only bottled water, do not have ice, and eat in restaurants, rather than from street vendors. Mosquito repellant is essential in all areas as Milaria is prevalent. Recommended vaccinations include: Yellow Fever , Hepatitis A and B, Typhoid, Polio and Meningicocus. Medical services are available in Dakar, but are less readily available outside of the main cities.

Commercial Hours Top

General business hours are from 8am - 5pm Monday to Friday with an hour for lunch. Banking hours are from 8am - 11.15am and 2.30pm - 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. Shopping hours are from 8am - midday and 2.30pm - 6pm Monday to Friday. This can vary as some vendors are open on Sundays and will close on Mondays.

Religion and Customs Top

Over 90% of Senegal's population is Muslim. The remainder of the population have a Christian or traditional indigenous belief. As this is a conservative society, dress should be conservative, especially outside of tourist areas, and public displays of affection should be avoided.  Drunkeness is considered offensive and acts of homosexuality are illegal. Religious customs such as Ramadan should be respected.  During Ramadan, eating,drinking and smoking are prohibited.