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Official Name(s) République du Senegal
Located West Africa: Mauritania, Mali, The Gambia
Capital Dakar
Head of State President Maître Abdoulaye Wade

OmegaPresident Wade

Area 196,192 sq km
Population 8.5 million
Growth rate 2.7%
Languages French, Wolof, Pulaar, Diola, & Mandingo
Currency West African CFA franc
GNP per capita $1,780
Inflation 2%
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Global Water Volunteers

Senegal is a young country where half the population is under 20. The name 'Sénégal' is said to come from the Wolof name of the dugout canoe in the land of Teranga (hospitality)! Sénégal is the African country closest to the US, and Gorée Island used to be the last spot of the motherland the unfortunate slaves bound to the Americas could see. Fish is the main source of protein for Senegalese who are among the biggest fish eaters in the world, perhaps second only to the Japanese.

Baaba Maal
Baaba Maal
Senegal is the buzz place of West Africa – from its hip music and its sophistication to its fantastic capital Dakar. It gets more visitors than any other country in West Africa. One can be overwhelmed by the fantastic variety of music available in nearly all countries on this part of Africa. There is a long musical tradition in West Africa that forms an integral part of the cultures of the region and is now being enjoyed throughout the world – thanks to the recognition of a number of West African musicians such as Salif Keita and the Rail Band, Baaba Maal, Anjelique Kidjo, Youssou N’dour, Mory Kante and Ali Farka Toure.

"The base of all music in Sénégal is traditional," says Baaba Maal, one of the finest contemporary musical artists in Africa; and, traditional Sénégalese music may be the foundation for much of the music of the Western world. Aficionados of country blues, calypso, reggae, beguine, and rap, whether or not they recognize it, hear echoes of the musical rhythms of the land of Teranga, the gateway to Africa . Asly Fouta, a group of seventy musicians, is, according to Baaba Maal, "a university for the traditional African music" being central to the education of many great music makers. It is with this group that many have learnt to play most or all of the traditional instruments

Sénégalese fans enjoy some universal sports such as soccer (named 'football' here!), basketball, checkers, etc. But they still enjoy more two sports considered indigenous or 'national,' canoe racing and wrestling. Canoe racing is among the most colorful events one could watch on various Senegalese shores. The specially designed dugout canoes are painted in bright colors and named after a patron, usually a saint, a local hero, or a notability. In return, the patron provides spiritual protection or money. The races are organized by the size of the rowing team, from 6 to 36 men. They oppose villages or suburbs, and draw large over excited crowds. Regularly, the rowdy fishermen would fight at the end of the event. Wrestling transcends all ethnic groups and enjoys the status of national sport. It is one of the most common games for children, and any sandy area, often the courtyard, would suffice. It is also the main distraction during the dry season. Usually, villages or suburbs invite each other for tournaments. I used to attend wrestling events at an open-air arena near our house.


Senegal also is famous for its talented artisans who can be found in the major markets, creating and selling their wares. Beautiful gold, silver, and bronze jewelery is exquisitely crafted. Antique beads and large amber necklaces, traditionally worn by the Fulani women, can be found in the markets and antique shops. The Blacksmiths constitute the socio-professional group that made the tools, the jewelries, and other materials, using steel, iron, gold, and other metals. Had the Sénégalese society followed a normal path of socio-economic development, the Blacksmiths would perhaps be the metallurgical industrials of Sénégal today. Baskets, pottery, hand-woven fabrics with incredibly intricate patterns are renowned great buys. Leather, iguana, crocodile and snakeskins are used to create handbags, shoes, belts and other accessories. The Cobblers have been busy with transforming animal skins. They made shoes, harnesses and other materials from animal skins. They certainly would have been the big makers of a Sénégalese brand of Nike, Reebok, or Bata, today. Senegal also offers a colorful array of locally printed cotton fabrics. They are used for traditional and modern clothes, and for decoration of all types of bags and carry-ons. A Senegalese tailor can make a suit in a day! Glass painting is another Senegalese specialty. Painters depict the daily life of the population, with humor and talent, in vivid colors and a naive style. They also paint historical scenes, birds, and animals. Those wonderful inexpensive paintings are a beautiful souvenir that will brighten your walls. Wood carving, local and from other African countries, can be found in the Soumbedioune market and in the numerous antique shops of the rue Mohamed V in Dakar. Each region has its own traditional crafts; and, the markets in St. Louis, Tambacounda, Ziguinchor and Kaolack are full of treasures that you might not find in Dakar.

Pink Lake

Pink Lake
Pink Lake
At some 20 miles from Dakar, the Pink Lake ('Lac Rose' in French, 'Retba' in Wolof) is a major attraction for tourists. It is shallow, warm and surrounded by white foam. Everything floats on it, because of its very high salinity. During the week, men and mostly women are busy crushing the bottom of the lake, which consists of a thick crust of salt that they gather to sell. Sand dunes, a baobab forest and traditional villages with thatch-roofed huts surround the Pink Lake also called Retba. The site is in

the middle of the 'garden belt' outside Dakar, which produces huge quantities flowers and vegetables for domestic consumption and export. Men farm the gardens, but women control the sale at all level, except the export. The lake is particularly spectacular at dawn and dusk. Feldspar deposits reflecting the sunlight through the salty waters produce the unique vibrant pink color. The lake is the remains of a fossil sea that once occupied all of Sénégal. For a long time, the local Wolof villagers thought that it was a haunted place at night. However, they never seriously thought about moving, because the salt extracted from the lake is a vital source of income. Women are the salters, men the wholesalers and transporters.


Dakar is the capital of Senegal – and once a French overseas territory. Friendly Dakar is a thriving seaport and city where today's skyscrapers, old colonial buildings and animated street markets (look out for some tempting craftware!) are juxtaposed in bizarre incongruity. You'll find French the common language, but with a wealth of tribal dialects much in evidence! Within easy reach, too, are some excellent Atlantic beaches, and nearby N'Gor offers good snorkelling. The city's name came from 'dakhar' - a Wolof name for the tamarind tree. The city supports a population of over 1.3 million people. The main ethnic groups in the region are Wolof, Mandinka, Peula, Diora, Soninke and Serer. Over 80% of the population follow Islam. The remainder are Christians and practitioners of traditional religions. French is the official language of the country while Wolof is the most widely spoken African language.


In January 1994, Senegal undertook a bold and ambitious economic reform program with the support of the international donor community. This reform began with a 50% devaluation of Senegal's currency, the CFA franc, which is linked at a fixed rate to the French franc. Government price controls and subsidies have been steadily dismantled. After seeing its economy contract by 2.1% in 1993, Senegal made an important turnaround, thanks to the reform program, with real growth in GDP averaging 5% annually in 1995-99. Annual inflation has been pushed down to 2%, and the fiscal deficit has been cut to less than 1.5% of GDP. Investment rose steadily from 13.8% of GDP in 1993 to 16.5% in 1997. As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), Senegal is working toward greater regional integration with a unified external tariff. Senegal also realized full Internet connectivity in 1996, creating a miniboom in information technology-based services. Private activity now accounts for 82% of GDP. On the negative side, Senegal faces deep-seated urban problems of chronic unemployment, juvenile delinquency, and drug addiction. Real GDP growth is expected to rise above 6%, while inflation is likely to hold at 2% in 2000-2001.

Pearls of Africa. Sugar Cane plantations in Senegal, close to the border of Mauritania. In the middle of the desert, a success story can be found of an investment made more than ten years ago and is flourishing with Sugar Cane production. In Senegal, Club Med locations are very successful. That also counts in Ivory Coast and other African countries where these Holiday Parks can be found for Western tourists, enjoying their beach and fun holidays. Africans are provided with jobs and learning the business, and are becoming managers or even own tour operators in these "Western companies".

Agriculture products: peanuts, millet, corn, sorghum, rice, cotton, tomatoes, green vegetables; cattle, poultry, pigs; fish.
Exports: $925 million (f.o.b., 1998)
Export commodities: fish, ground nuts (peanuts), petroleum products, and phosphates, cotton.
Export partners: France 22%, Italy, India, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali (1998).
Import: $1.2 billion (f.o.b., 1998).
Import commodities: foods and beverages, consumer goods, capital goods, petroleum products.
Import partners: France 36%, other EU countries, Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Algeria, US, China, Japan (1998).


The Omega Plan: an African strategy for globalization.

The OMEGA PLAN takes its name from the fact that it needs not be personalized as the idea, once stated, is meant to grow from the contributions of others in various environments. As a consequence, the Plan as a whole will be everybody's plan : this is the reason why it is given an anonymous name. The objective of the Plan is on one hand to assess the needs of our continent in an attempt to bridge the fundamental gaps between our countries and the developed countries, as such gaps are our major handicaps, and on the other hand to raise the needed funds in the best possible conditions. Once these gaps are bridged by means of massive and heavy investment, Africa will have reached the position where she can concentrate on direct production through using its enormous natural and human resources and associating them with modern technologies. She will also enter the phase where her production capacity in the field of international trade will increase, and she can play her part in international trade activities through goods exportation and importation and thus contribute to the growth of world economy. Consideration the above stated problems led the President of Senegal Republic to present a plan for Africa at the Yaounde Summit.

For further information click Omega small


Senegal, situated in West Africa, was among the countries that pioneered democracy in Sub-Saharan Africa. It gained independence in 1960 and for a long time was highly visible in the international arena. It has maintained a relatively stable political and social environment, but for the past several years, has been confronted by a rebellion in the southern part of the country (Casamance). Until 1994, Senegal's economic performance was mediocre and the impact of the adjustment programs of the 1980s was limited by the overvalued CFA Franc. The devaluation of the CFA Franc in 1994, as well as vigorous structural reform programs, have stimulated economic growth which has averaged about 5.3 percent during 1996-1998.

Neolithic tools found in Senegal indicate that the country has been occupied for 15,000 years or more. In the 8th century, Senegal was a part of the empire of Ghana. As this empire waned, the Djolof kingdom arose and flourished during the 13th and 14th century in the region between the Senegal river and modern Dakar. By the end of the 19th century, France controlled all of Senegal and Dakar was established as the administrative center. With the opening of West Africa's first railway from Saint Louis to Dakar, the city became a very important export center for peanut trade. The peanut-oil refinery was an important industry in Dakar during World War II. Dakar is also known for its harbor - it is reputed to be one of the best in all of West Africa.

From the 5th century onwards, Wolof and Serer people migrated south of the Senegal River as Berber nomads moved down from the north. In the 8th century they came under the influence of the Soninke’s Ghana Empire which flourished on trade of gold, slaves and salt until the Berber Almoravids razed their capital Kumbi Salah in 1076. Then, the Djolof kingdom arose to flourish in the 13th and 14th centuries in the area between the Senegal river and the coast. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Portuguese traders controlled the coast until the French secured St-Louis in 1659 after competing with their British and the Dutch rivals. At the end of the 19th century, French West Africa stretched from the Atlantic to present-day Niger. The French administered their colonies directly as opposed to the British policy of indirect administration through local chiefs. Senegalese deputies sat in the French Assemblée Nationale (parliament) as early as 1848 and the first black deputy Blaise Diagne was elected in 1914. This policy of integration did not stem the call for independence which was granted in 1960 with Leopold Senghor as president. Twenty years later he voluntarily stepped down in 1980 in favour of his chosen successor.

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Brussels Airlines
In 2002 SN Brussels Airlines was created to continue in the steps of the two companies Sabena and DAT, who between them had an unequalled safety record. BRUSSELS AIRLINES was created following the merger of SN Brussels Airlines (SNBA) and Virgin Express. On 12 April 2005, SN Airholding, the company behind SNBA, signed an agreement with Richard Branson, giving it control over Virgin Express. On 7 November 2006, the new name, Brussels Airlines, was announced at a press conference at Brussels Airport. Brussels Airlines began operations on 25 March 2007. On September 15, 2008 it was announced that Lufthansa will acquire a 45% stake in Brussels Airlines with an option to acquire the remaining 55% from 2011. As a part of this deal Brussels Airlines will join Star Alliance. On March 13, Brussels Airlines announced that the airline will codeshare all their flights to Germany with Lufthansa. The codeshare agreement will start from March 29. This new step is part of the integration of Brussels Airlines into the Star Alliance network. Brussels Airlines becomes a Star Alliance member in 2009.

From 26 April 2002 SN Brussels Airlines opened frequent Africa connections and presently BRUSSELS AIRLINES serves safe and reliable flights to:

ANGOLA (Luanda) - BURUNDI (Bujumbura) - CAMEROON (Douala & Yaoundé) - CôTE D'IVOIR (Abidjan) - DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO (Kinshasa) - THE GAMBIA (Banjul (Banjul) - GUINEA (Conakry) - KENYA (Nairobi) - LIBERIA (Monrovia) - RWANDA (Kigali) - SENEGAL (Dakar) - SIERRA LEONE (Freetown) - UGANDA (Entebbe)
For further information click here and please tell them we sent you!

France: 21 December 2001: LEOPOLD SEDAR SENGOR DIED
The former Senegalese President, Léopold Sédar Senghor, died, Thursday, at his home in the northern French town of Verson, after a short illness. He was 95. One of Africa's leading statesmen and a poet of international stature, Sédar Senghor's legacy was summed up by French President Jacques Chirac who said: "Poetry has lost a master, Senegal a statesman, Africa a visionary and France a Friend". Senghor led his country for the first twenty years of independence from France. But in 1980, he stepped down, following a free and fair election. The transition was considered a strong sign of the advent of multi-party democracy in the region, at a time when much of the continent was still under dictatorships. He was succeeded by his Prime Minister, Abdou Diouf, who, in the 2000 election, lost to his rival and current President Abdoulaye Wade. But Sédar Senghor also had his critics, who saw in his continued strong ties with France, the former colonial master, a sign of weakness. They even described him sometimes as a black Frenchman. That, however, did not deter him from seeking ever greater military, political and economic cooperation with Paris, arguing Senegal could not afford to do otherwise. Senghor was born in the small fishing town of Joal, south of Dakar, in what was then French West Africa. He attended the University of Paris, where he met and frequented writers from other parts of the French empire, including Aimé Césaire and Léon Damas, from the French West Indies, who had a strong impact on the concept of Négritude as Senghor formulated it. He published his first collection of poems, 'Songs of the Shade', in 1945 followed by his 'New Anthology of Negro and Malagasy Poetry' in the French Language in 1948. His complete works were published in four volumes under the title 'Freedom'. In 1945, Senghor officially entered the world of politics, first as Senegal's deputy at the Constituent Assembly and later at the French National Assembly. With the approach of independence in the late 1950's, Senghor, worried West Africa would splinter into weak and rival states, began to seek a federal system for the region. But his efforts ultimately failed, forcing him to seek election as Senegal's first post-independence president.

NYC/USA, 13 November 2005: On behalf of president Abdoulaye Wade, the foreign minister of Senegal, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, accepted one of the Africa-America Institute's two Awards for National Achievement on Tuesday night in New York City. The Senegalese leader received particular praise from the Africa-America Institute for his role as "a driving force behind the New African Initiative - an ambitious recovery plan inspired by African leadership and targeted at reducing poverty and external aid dependency in Africa." Wade's 'Plan Omega' was integrated into a similar Millennium Recovery Programme, masterminded by Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Algeria's Abdelaziz Bouteflika, as well as the Nigerian leader, Olusegun Obasanjo.

CASAMANCE, 5 October 2001: An Africa Internet Travel Newsgroup published information about rebellion in Casamance. The situation is quite serious, avoid travelling by car down there the group announced. The Diola (the boat between Dakar and Zig.) has broken down and is not working now.

WOLOF: Wolof is the national language of Senegal. Even though French is the official language and English is spoken in tourist areas, a few words of Wolof could help you make friends!

Asalamu aleikum: Peace be with you (Arabic words used in Wolof)
Wa aleikum salam: Peace be with you too
Nanga def: How are you doing?
Nanga tudd: what is your name?
Man, Willem la tudd: My name is Willem
Baal ma: I am sorry
Wao: yes
Dedete: no
Dama khiff: I am hungry
Dama mar: I am thirsty
Lii niata: How much is it?
Fan la: Where is it?
Mangui dem: Good bye

Last update: 30 July 2009

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