Senegal Facts: 39 Facts About Senegal

Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country located in West Africa. The country is known for its vibrant, colorful and elegant life. With these 39 facts about Senegal; let’s explore more about its: history, culture, traditions, people, economy, tourism, the Senegal River and more… 

Facts about Senegal’s history

Fact 1. In the 16th century when the Portuguese visited the country’s coast, the fishermen said “sunu gaal”, which translates into “these are our boats”. The Portuguese, who understood nothing, simply named their land “Senegal”. Classic colonizers!!

Fact 2. The European powers that engulfed much of Senegal’s history are the French, Portuguese and the British. The French had their presence way back in the 15th century, at the port of St.-Louis. They left the country in August 1960.

Fact 3. Senegal’s location towards the west coast made it a hub for the international slave trade of the 18th and 19th century. Gorée Island, in particular, became a major transit point of the Atlantic Slave Trade.

Fact 4. In the 17th and 18th century, the world knew Senegal for three things; slaves, ivory, and gold. These things attracted not only traders but also many pirates of class and repute.

Fact 5. The House of Slaves and its iconic “Door of No Return” is a melancholic reminder of Senegal’s tryst with the slave trade history.

Fact 6. In contemporary times, Senegal is very close to France. In fact, the very flag of Senegal has adopted the French Tricolore style. So the flags of both look the same, except for the color.

Fact 7. Senegal merged with Gambia, to form Senegambia in 1982. But apart from the unification of the names, nothing else changed much. The two countries still maintain border and neither care to unify with the other.

Fact 8. Senegal is the only country in West Africa which wasn’t overrun by a military coup. Its democratic stability has earned it many allies in Europe and the Americas.

Fact 9. The capital of Senegal is the port city of Dakar. Its history has shaped it to be one of the most liberal and cosmopolitan cities of Africa.

Fact 10. The Place de l’Obélisque is the nerve center of the whole country. It is the central plaza of Dakar and all the important moments of Senegal’s modern history passed through here.

Facts about Senegalese, their culture and tradition

Fact 11. Senegal was a pivot for The Negritude, which was a literary movement in the 1930’s-1950s. Born in Paris, it had many notable Senegalese people who later spearheaded the decolonization of Africa.

Flag of Senegal

Flag of Senegal
Flag of Senegal

Fact 12. Senegal’s national flag bears three colors; red, yellow and green. They are the official Pan-African colors and a star at the middle represents universal unity.

Fact 13. In Senegal, taxis have tails. Yes, an artificial tail made of goat or sheep hair and it supposedly brings good luck.

Fact 14. Senegal, being a Muslim country, takes its sacrifices very seriously. The Tabaski or Eid al-Adha is a time when sheep and goats sell like hot cakes when every family wants an animal to sacrifice. Not a great time for PETA to be in town.

Fact 15. The sheep have the time of their life when they are alive. Every Sunday on Dakar’s Yoff Beach, you can find hordes of sheep enjoying their Sunday afternoon spa and bath in the warm tropical waters of the Atlantic. It’s a tradition to take care of your sheep in Senegal.

Fact 16. In fact, the most popular TV show in Senegal is about……. you guessed it right! The humble sheep. Khar Bii, a show with five full seasons, displaying the best sheep in all of Senegal.

Fact 17. Griots are the traditional storytellers, singers, poets, musicians, and oral historians. They have been known for their skills oratory and lyrical mastery. Basically, griots are the original father of rap music.

Fact 18. The Senegalese coast was the filming backyard of the French movie industry. From 1960 to 1970, Senegal saw a film industry saw a mini-renaissance.

Fact 19. Senegal’s French connection has improved its movie-industry drastically. The Black Girl (1966), is the first Sub-Saharan African film by an African filmmaker to compete with the global cinema standards.

Fact 20. “Borom Sarret”, also known as The Wagoner, is a film often considered the first movie ever made in Africa by a Black African and was filmed in Senegal in 1963.

Facts about the Senegal river

Fact 21. The Manantali Dam in the Senegal River has become a “poster child” of bad dams. It has become a classic case study for things that can go wrong in dam-building.

Fact 22. In the year 2016, twenty-five fishermen were mauled to death in the Senegal River. The killer is the most unusual suspect of all the peaceful hippopotamus.

Fact 23. An ancient Greek guy, who’s quite famous on Wikipedia, Pliny the Elder named the Senegal River, “Bambotus”, which simply means hippopotamus. Though “Bambotus” is way better a name than “Pliny”.

Fact 24. The “Gateway to Africa” tag was earned due to the presence of the Senegal River, due to which the Portuguese and the French were able to make inroads to Sudan and Central Africa.

Fact 25. The Senegal river is dotted with a number of ethnic tribes each distinct by their animist beliefs, practices, and ceremonies, dressing styles, dances, music, food, etc.

Fact 26. The Senegal River was a major link in the Great Trans-Saharan trade across the vastness of Africa. It helped develop contact between the Morocco and the Ghana Empire in the Middle Ages.

Five interesting facts about Senegal

Fact 27. The common lingo of Senegal has a word called, “Teranga”. It has a very sweet and hospitable meaning and has become the identity of Senegalese people. It means helping a person to come to your land and settle down.

Fact 28. Senegal has two prominent nicknames; the land of Teranga and the gateway to West Africa. The equator passes through Senegal and hence it is one of the most humid places on earth. The weather is same throughout the year; scorching sun during the day accompanied by thunderstorms in the evening.

Fact 29. The “madd” fruit is native to Senegal and sells well in the international market. Have your full share if you ever land at Senegal.

Fact 30. Dakar is home to the tallest statue in Africa. The African Renaissance Monument built in 2010, stands at an impressive 49 m, but still a meter short of a half-century.

Fact 31. Forget your conventional dance moves and learn the native Senegalese “Sabar” dancing. It will burn your calories faster than the speed of light.

Map of Senegal

Map of Senegal
Map of Senegal

Facts about tourism, sports, Dakar and more

Fact 32. Senegal has the honor of having the westernmost point in the whole African Continent. It’s called Pointe des Almadies, and also happens to be a surfing hot-spot.

Fact 33. Rap God, Akon was born and brought up in Senegal.

Fact 34. Music is the lifeblood of the Senegalese people. In fact, indigenous musical instruments like kora and balafon, are mentioned in the very first line of Senegal’s national anthem.

Fact 35. Senegal has unwantedly won the “worst non-military disaster in maritime history” tag, when “MV Le Joola”, a Senegalese government ferry capsized, killing 1,863 people.

Fact 36. A Senegalese wedding is an elaborate affair. First, the groom goes to the bride’s place with Kola nuts and not rings. If the bride accepts the nuts, the proposal part is over. Next, the bride goes to the groom’s family to get married with money, rice, sweets, fruits and the humble sheep…never forget the sheep in Senegal.

Fact 37. Senegal’s grasslands have given the country its two national symbols, the baobab tree, and the red lion.

Fact 38. The official language of Senegal is French. There are native languages like Wolof, Soninke and Mandinka.

Fact 39. Senegal is a paradise for footballers. Many prominent players like El Hadji Diouf, Henri Camara, Ferdinand Coly, Bouna Coundoul, etc. have been inducted into the European League from this country.

Senegal facts – country at a glance

Capital CityDakar
14°40′N 17°25′W
Largest CityDakar
14°40′N 17°25′W
Total area196,722 sq km
Population13,975,834 (July 2015 est.)
Official LanguageFrench
BordersThe Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Mauritania.
CurrencyCFA franc (XOF)
ReligionIslam and Christianity
Life expectancy61.32 years
Life expectancy at birth indicates the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life.
Climatetropical; hot, humid; rainy season (May to November) has strong southeast winds; dry season (December to April) dominated by hot, dry, harmattan wind
Terraingenerally low, rolling, plains rising to foothills in southeast
Natural resourcesfish, phosphates, iron ore
Agricultural land46.8%
Birth rate34.52 births/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Death rate8.46 deaths/1,000 population (2015 est.)
Sex ratio0.94 male(s)/female (2015 est.)
Independence4 April 1960 (from France); note - complete independence achieved upon dissolution of federation with Mali on 20 August 1960
National symbollion; national colors: green, yellow, red
National anthem"Pincez Tous vos Koras, Frappez les Balafons" (Pluck Your Koras, Strike the Balafons)
Industriesagricultural and fish processing, phosphate mining, fertilizer production, petroleum refining, zircon, and gold mining, construction materials, ship construction and repair
Exports$2.307 billion (2015 est.)
fish, groundnuts (peanuts), petroleum products, phosphates, cotton
Imports$4.668 billion (2015 est.)
food and beverages, capital goods, fuels

industrial materials, fuels and lubricants, nondurable consumer goods
GDP - per capita (PPP)$2,500 (2015 est.)
Time ZoneGMT (UTC+0)
Internet country
Internet users3.031 million
percent of population: 21.7% (July 2015 est.)
Calling Code+221
Drives on theRight