Read the profile below to learn about the country you can visit on a Sen Coconut Tours vacation.
Located on the western most point of continental Africa, Senegal is a land rich in culture, sights and sounds where the warmth of its sun is only outdone by the warmth of its people. Stop by a Senegalese home or village at mealtime and you will almost surely be invited to join their repast.
This is known as "teranga". Although a people universally known for this hospitality, Senegal is rich with ethnic diversity. Wolof, Pular, Serer, Diola, Malinke, Soninke and Bassari people, among others, are integral parts of the flavor of the country. Their religious traditions, dance music and artistry are part of the varied landscape that a traveler can experience
Senegal gained its independence from France in 1960 after three centuries of colonial rule and has enjoyed relative political stability and democracy ever since. One of its biggest industries is tourism and a traveler to Senegal will have no trouble discovering why.
Characterized by its semi arid north and its lush tropical forest in the south, Senegal borders a host of neighbors: Mauritania to the north, Guinea to the southeast, Guinea Bissau to the southwest, Mali to the east and it surrounds The Gambia in its southern center. The Gambia is often referred to as the tongue.
Senegal covers 76,000 square miles in territory. The national tree of Senegal the – baobab - is omnipresent throughout the region and has both spiritual as well as practical purposes. The capital of Dakar is a beach-lined peninsula with high energy, lively markets and a glittering nightlife. Goree Island and its preserved House of Slaves stand as a living memorial to the Atlantic slave trade. The colorful French colonial city/island of St. Louis hosts an annual jazz festival and can be enjoyed all year long by horse drawn carriage. The Petit Cote boasts long stretches of white sand beaches. The thick mangroves of Casamance and the Sine-Saloum are home to hundreds of species of migratory birds. Niokolo Koba National Park rests in southeastern Senegal along the Gambia River where safaris can be arranged and hippopotamus, crocodiles, giraffe, water buffalo, chimpanzees and maybe even a lion can be spotted. Further south is the city of Kedougou that is characterized by lush hills, waterfalls and friendly people.
The multitude of regions, neighbors, topography, and ethnicities create fertile ground for arts and culture. Senegal has produced world-renowned filmmakers such as Ousmane Sembene. And Dakar boasts many cultural institutions including: Village Arts de Dakar composed of artists studios and gallery spaces open to art enthusiasts, IFAN Museum of African Arts, and the L’Institut Francais Leopold Sedar Senghor. This institute houses an outdoor amphitheater for concerts and performances, a cinema for documentary films from Africa and Europe and a gallery of art work.
Senegal also has one of the most developed West African music industries rooted in traditional music. The polyrhythmic beats of sabar drums, and its accompanying dance, are unique to Senegal and The Gambia. Sabar has spawned the modern day mbalax music - made internationally famous by beloved Senegalese artist Youssou N’Dour. Today, live mbalax music can be enjoyed in one of Dakar’s thriving nightclubs as can Senegal’s own brand of socially conscious hip/hop - popular among the country’s youth.
Senegal is also famous for its artisans. Gold, silver and bronze jewelry is exquisitely crafted. Baskets, hand woven fabrics with brightly colored intricate patterns, expertly tailored outfits, glass painting, sand painting, wood carvings and masks are just some of the gems these artisans produce and can be purchased in the bustling markets or smaller boutiques in any Senegalese town.
In short, with its long sandy white beaches, mangroves, wildlife, crafts, art, dance, hip music scene, and of course its warm and inviting people - Senegal is the place to be.