Capital | Dakar
Population | 12,643,799 (July 2011 est.)
Area | 196,190 SQ KM
Official Language | French
Holidays | Independence Day, 4 April (1960)
Currency | Franc (XOF)
Time Zone | UTC 0
Best Time to Visit | November to February
Connecting with the Culture | Experiencing West African culture at Dakar’s IFAN Museum. Basking in the sun on the beaches of Cap Skiring. Soaking up the atmosphere in Kaolack. Viewing the grand houses of the old European quarter in island St Louis. Spotting pink flamingos in the Parc National de la Langue de Barbarie. Purchasing trinkets at the Marché St-Maur in Ziguinchor. Driving through Niokolo-Koba park to see hippos, baboons, buffalo and more. Admiring the wild, breathtaking scenery of the Siné-Saloum Delta.
Read | God’s Bits of Wood by Senegalese writer Sembene Ousmane, the story of adversity faced by strikers on the Dakar-Niger train line in 1940’s
Listen | to the amazing voice of Senegal’s most famous singer Youssou N’Dour on Eyes Open.
Watch | Safi Faye’s Mossane, the story of a beautiful young girl promised to an arranged marriage but carrying on a secret, chaste love affair.
Eat | maffé saloum (beef cooked with peanuts, tomato, yams and carrots) or yassa (chicken cooked with olives, lemon and onions).
Drink | bissap juice, a popular local drink with lots of zing, or spicy ginger juice.
In a Word | Asalaa-maalekum (greetings, literally ‘peace’ in Wolof)
Characteristics | The Wolof and Mandinka tribes; a thriving groundnut industry; beautiful mosques; lively fishing communities; colourful bird-life; vibrant markets; mangrove swamps; gorgeous handicrafts; amazing wildlife; excellent beaches; marabouts (holy men); tasty cuisine; good beer.
Surprises | Stunning tapestries at the famous, cooperative-run Manufactures Sénégalaises des Arts Décoratifs in Thiés; the Maison des Esclaves (Slave House) on Gorée Island.
NEWS ABOUT SENEGAL:
Senegal's President Wade concedes vote defeat to former protege
(HN, 3/27/12) - Senegalese state television is reporting that President Abdoulaye Wade has conceded defeat in Sunday's presidential runoff election to opposition leader Macky Sall as unofficial results show Mr. Sall leading by a wide margin. Wade telephoned Mr. Sall late Sunday evening to congratulate him, only 3 1/2 hours after polls closed in the West African country. At 85 years of age, Mr. Wade is Africa's 2nd oldest leader. Mr. Sall is more than three decades his junior. Mr. Sall previously served as mining minister, prime minister & president of the National Assembly before a falling out with Mr. Wade in late 2008. (Read more at The Jakarta Globe)
Senegal votes in tense runoff election
(HN, 3/26/12) - Senegalese voted Sunday in a run-off election in which the 85-year-old incumbent Abdoulaye Wade who has already served 2 terms & is vying for a 3rd in a decision sanctioned by the nation's Supreme Court - is fighting off a mass opposition effort from his former PM Macky Sall, having failed to deliver a full-fledged 1st-round victory a month ago to foil his controversial bid. Long lines of people waited outside voting stations after weeks of deadly riots in the country leaving 6 people dead in the lead up to the February polls.
As a coup played out in neighboring Mali, EU election observers urged Senegal to prove its credentials as a strong democracy in a troubled region by staging a fair & free election. Senegal has typically been hailed as one of the region’s success stories, being alone in its region of West Africa never to have undergone a military coup. Both candidates have declared they cannot lose, raising fears that the poll’s outcome will inevitably be challenged. (Read more at Capital FM Kenya)
Senegal presidential vote, run off likely
(UPDATE 3.5.12) - Following the Presidential Election of February 26 which pitted long time incumbent Abdoulaye Wade against his former Prime Minister Macky Sall, Senegal will hold a 2nd round following Wade's failure to win outright, sometime in late March. The results show that Mr. Wade gained 34.8% in first round voting & will face Mr. Sall, who came second with 26.5%. Mr. Sall enters the race with a lot of hope as the opposition parties have signed a pact to support whoever comes second in the first round. Wade, whose bid for a 3rd consecutive term has sparked weeks of violent protests leading to the election caused six deaths; & although the election was well run & peaceful the previous Sunday, tensions before the elections were extremely high.
(UPDATE 2.28.12) - Although official results are not due until later in the day, Abdoulaye Wade,Senegal's veteran leader faced the prospect Tuesday of a runoff election after conceding he may have failed to secure a 1st round victory in his bid to remain President into his 90s. Wade said on state TV that early tallies showed him winning less than a 1/3 of the votes counted so far. (Read More at The Tripoli Post) (First Post) -- Unofficial polls in Senegal suggest the presidential election conducted Sunday might have to go to a 2nd round. The 2 main rivals, 85-year-old incumbent President Abdoulaye Wade & Macky Sall appear to be neck & neck in a vote that was mired in controversy even before the polling stations opened. Weeks of violent street protests began when Wade announced he would stand for a 3rd term even though the constitution only allows a president 2. Senegal’s Supreme Court had approved Wade’s 3rd term run saying the 2-term limit did not apply to him because it was approved after he was already in office & so his 1st term did not count.