The multifarious nature of Senegal has made it known to many people. The African country is so rich in culture that intrigues every audience. There are so many interesting facts about Senegal that make it impossible to be ignored.
Several countries in Africa are prone to armed conflicts and civil/social unrest. Always double check the latest situations from both your government and the local government advisories.
Common Facts About Senegal
Senegal is formally known as the ‘Republic of Senegal’ and more affectionately known as the ‘Gateway to Africa’. It is on the west end and edge of the continent and nearly surrounds all of The Gambia. Senegal has an approximate population of about 17.7 people.
Because of its natural position at a converging point for three climate zones, it enjoys a rich diversity of live nature. This interesting fact about Senegal is shown off in its reverence to the African Lion, African Spoonbill, and the Baobab tree— its national symbols.
Historical Facts About Senegal
Senegal’s Road To Independence
Senegal has been around for centuries. In fact, when the Europeans first came to Africa, it was one of the places they first met and used as a transport route. A part of Senegal used to be called Upper Guinea.
Senegal was colonized in the 15th century by France, Britain, the Netherlands, and Portugal. However, the French dominated the control of the country in the mid-16th century even up to about 300 years.
Change began to creep in after the ban on the slave trade in the 19th century. Senegal gained independence when it formed the Mali Federation alongside the then French Sudan (Present day Republic of Mali) in 1959. On August 29, 1960, both parties chose to be individually independent.
Senegal celebrated independence on April 4, 1960. This is the day the agreement to a transfer of power was signed with France.
First African Olympics Host
The continent and country have never hosted the Olympics. However, it will go down in history as the first African country to host the Youth Olympics Games. It is one of the proud facts of Senegal.
In 2026, athletes between the ages of 14-18 from over 200 countries would come down to the country’s capital, Dakar for the event. The games, however, would extend to more states than just the capital, i.e., Saly and Diamniadio.
This was formerly scheduled for 2022 but due to COVID-19 risks, plans were altered.
Peaceful Political Condition
Most people may find this as a surprising fact about Senegal considering the African continent has had its fair share of conflicts. However, Senegal maintains one of the calmest political states in Africa.
Internally, Senegal enjoys peace even in its quasi-democratic system of running. Controversies never linger enough to start a fire on the mountain.
In fact, the government has never had to fight a military overthrow. That is, Senegal has never experienced a coup d’etat. Even during its political transitions.
Senegal also stays in good relations with its surrounding countries even going the extra mile to maintain peace.
Internationally, Senegal does not seem to be on other countries’ blacklist— at least not for the sake of allies to an enemy. Senegal sits on the fence, regarding issues such as allying with a warring nation.
Useful Facts About Senegal For Tourists
The fact about Senegal’s political state is not the only thing that makes it a good and safe choice for tourists. Senegal offers not aesthetic value for tourists but stories that intrigue many.
7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
In Senegal, there are seven UNESCO world heritage sites. Some are so because of their cultural value to Senegal; many are reminders of its history and others are upheld for their natural endowment.
These landmarks in Senegal, are some of the main reasons why tourists are drawn to this African gem.
Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary
This is one of the key spots to visit for wildlife and nature lovers. In 1981, UNESCO named this a world heritage site because of its disposition of beautiful waters (lakes, streams, rivers, ponds) and a variety of bird species including the country’s national bird; the African Spoonbill.
Niokolo-Koba National Park
An interesting fact about Senegal’s Niokolo-Koba National Park is that it has been a reserved area long before the country even had its independence. This nature paradise on earth earned its famous reputation with its endowment of wildlife and over a thousand flower species.
A trip to explore its natural wonders is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Senegal.
This Southeastern Senegal haven is known for its exploitation of its natural resources, and expression of culture in a way that flowed even into its religious lifestyle.
Here’s a fact about Senegal’s Bassari Country to keep in mind; it is made up of three geographical areas, namely: Bassari, Bedik, and Fula.
Other UN-acknowledged world heritage sites include Goree Island, the Island of Saint-Louis, the Stone Circles of Senegambia, and the Saloum Delta.
Here’s a fun fact about Senegal for tourists and kids as well; Senegal has a pink lake. Some of the major exports of the country are peanuts and fish, and the Senegalese traditionally preserve fish using the pink lake.
Lac Retba is also known as Lac Rosa because of its color. Another fact about Senegal’s pink lake is that it has a very high salt content. This is also a major reason behind its color as it attracts certain algae. The bacteria, in absorbing sunlight, give off this peculiar color.
This is arguably the most popular part of Senegal. Apart from being the country’s capital, Dakar is the largest city, housing about 29.9% of the country’s population.
It is situated in the most western part of Africa. The city welcomes tourists and denizens to both a coastal region and an arid area.
Dakar is a haven for art and history fans. There are several museums and monuments, including the African Renaissance Monuments. A music lover would find plenty on offer at Dakar as it is blessed with wonderful melodies and concert halls.
Dakar markets are exciting to be in as it is filled with local vibes and culture. In addition, Dakar also has its fair share of beautiful landscapes, landmarks, and lakes.
Another welcoming fact about Senegal is without a doubt the Senegalese themselves. This is because of the people’s culture and friendliness.
Senegalese show respect culturally and are bright people by nature. You are most likely to already tell that from their colorful fashion. They can be very passionate and fun particularly when celebrating local festivities.
Cultural Facts On Senegal
Natives And Language
One important Senegal fact to know is that the natives are not only French. Senegal has experienced colonialism from not just one major European power.
The country has over thirty-five ethnic groups; the majority being Wolof. Others include; Malinké, Fula, Serer, Jola, etc. These people spread across every part of the country with their own languages.
A cultural fun fact about Senegal is that though French is the Lingua Franca of the country, Wolof is the more commonly spoken language among the Senegalese.
Strong Music Culture
In Senegal, music is part of life. They are widely known for their peculiar Mbalax. Most people see the Mbalax as a unifier because it mixes the influence of its multiple ethnic music culture and the well-known sabar drumming.
In Senegal, music binds people together. Bet you did not know this fun fact about Senegal; popular American singer and songwriter, Akon (Aliaume Damala Badara Akon Thiam) was brought up there.
Religion In Senegal
One of the perhaps surprising facts about Senegal is that Islam is practiced by over 90% of the population. Though Islam has been practiced since the 11th following the coming of the Sufi brothers, the first-ever President of Senegal was Catholic.
The other percentage consists of Christians, traditionalists, herbalists, and those who believe in spirit guides. It is uncommon to find Senegalese who are not religious. The Senegalese are at liberty about religion and it plays a major part in their lifestyle.
The Grand Magal Of Touba
Every year, over a million Muslim West Africans, embark on a pilgrimage of the Senegalese Mouride Brotherhood. This is known as the Hajj of Senegal. It involves a trek to the religious Touba Capital to pray for the founding leaders and festivals of food and prayer for a week.
Cuisine And Food In Senegal
Here’s an exciting fact about Senegal for foodies to know; its cuisine is recognized internationally. Senegal is rich in the production of peanuts, vegetables, white rice, and more. Commonly, their food consists of fish.
Senegal’s national food is Thiéboudienne, a mix of dried and fresh fish, rice, various vegetables, etc. In Senegalese cuisine, you will find a trace of their French history and African blood.
A commonly eaten dessert in Senegal is Thiakry. This tasty dessert is carried about and sold in plastic bags.
Unofficial Societal Rules
These are a couple of interesting observations that you should probably know.
Pork is not a thriving food option by tradition. This is a result of the population majority being Muslims. It is forbidden for Muslims to consume pork.
A little-known information about Senegal is that it is rude to be found drunk publicly. Senegal does not have many drinkers despite the fact that there is no age restriction on drinking. If you do go out drinking, be aware of your limits.
Other Interesting Facts About Senegal
Respect And Salutation
Senegalese, just like many African countries, prioritize respect and salutations. It is not uncommon to find them stopped for a greeting and asking after welfare and family. Most often, Senegalese obey formal rules and manners with each other, but this does not rule out the place of closeness in relationships.
Do you know this amusing fact about Senegal? They are not fans of the Southpaw (left-handed) idea. It is considered especially offensive to eat with anything other than the right hand especially when it is inexcusable.
This fact about Senegal is not widely known by people outside the country. More people would flood stadiums to watch laamb (Senegalese wrestling) than they would turn up to watch soccer.
Soccer may be more globally known and the Senegal national soccer team is pretty strong, but wrestling has the hearts of the Senegalese.
LEARN MORE ABOUT AFRICA
Discovering More Fun Facts About Senegal
Senegal is a fascinating country with an array of interesting cultural, religious, and culinary facts.
From the popular Mbalax music to the Thiakry dessert, there are so many unique aspects that make this West African nation special.
The importance given to respect and salutations in Senegal society is also noteworthy as it highlights their strong sense of community and togetherness.
All these fun facts about Senegal show just how much culture exists within its borders – but they’re only scratching the surface! To discover even more intriguing details about this vibrant country, there’s no better way than to visit it yourself!