Located on the westernmost point of the continent, Senegal is known as the "Gateway to Africa". Because of this, it was an early point of European contact, contested by England, France, Portugal and the Netherlands before ultimately coming under French control in the late 19th century. Though Senegal is one of Africa's most important economic and cultural centers with internationally renowed musicians and artis, much of Senegalese culture draws largely on Wolof. Almost two-fifths of Senegal's people are Wolof, a Muslim people of Senegal and The Gambia.
Primary education is compulsory and free in Senegal up to age 16, although this policy is not enforced in areas where Islamic education is preferred. Secondary education requires an entrance examination and is not compulsory.
Senegal has diverse options of institutions for Higher Education - with three private and three public universities. University-level instruction is taught in French.
Visa and Residency
Students with passports from most countries including the U.S., UK and Canada, do not need a visa to enter Senegal. You are required to have a passport valid for 6 months past your entry date and need to provide proof of your flight out of Senegal.
To confirm if you need a visa, contact the local consulate or embassy. For more information please view the Senegalese embassy website.
Senegal has long been considered a cultural mecca of the African continent. Senegalese music is at the cutting edge of modern mixed with traditional drums - and the country's people sure love to dance.
French is the official language of Senegal. The population is divided into twelve ethnic groups, each with its own customs and dialect. The largest singel ethnic group is the Wolof, who make up one third of the population. Although French is the only official language, it is spoken only be an educated minority, and Wolof has become a lingua franca in towns, markets and schools.
90% of the population identify as Muslim. The remaining 10% practice indigenous religions.
Senegalese cuisine is a mixture of traditional foods from indigenous groups of the country with French influences. As a coastal country, several dishes will be based in seafood and rice or couscous. There are also diverse tropical fruits and vegetables that can be found in markets.
Historically organized into a hierarchy of cases, a rigid structure where royal lines rules over slaves and artisans, a new set of status criteria emerged after Senegals independence. The modern elite includes successful businessman, managers, influential politiciians and highly educated individuals. Still, beggars are a common sight in the cities.
Etiquette and Greetings
Men often shake hands and women often curtsy and bend down slightly on one knee to greet elders. Foul language is not tolerated, though employ Kal, a joking relationship that permits blunt comments about potentially taboo topics in other cultures such as eating habits, intelligence, or weight.
Health and Safety
Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference our Guides and Tips section for general information regarding health and safety abroad.
Detailed information about Senegal can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and Security, Local Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections.
Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State. Non-U.S. nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections.
If you are planning to bring your prescription or over-the-counter medicine on your trip, you need to make sure your medicine is travel-ready.
Senegal's economy is dependent on agriculture and export trade. The country uses the West African CFA franc, a currency used by a group of 14 countreis within Central and West Africa.