Independent from France in 1960, Senegal was ruled by the Socialist Party for forty years until current President Abdoulaye WADE was elected in 2000. Senegal joined with The Gambia to form the nominal confederation of Senegambia in 1982, but the envisaged integration of the two countries was never carried out, and the union was dissolved in 1989. A southern separatist group sporadically has clashed with government forces since 1982, but Senegal remains one of the most stable democracies in Africa. Senegal has a long history of participating in international peacekeeping.
Country Profile for Senegal
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 was 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 over 5% annually during 1995-2004. Annual inflation had been pushed down to the low single digits. As a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Senegal is working toward greater regional integration with a unified external tariff and a more stable monetary policy. However, Senegal still relies heavily upon outside donor assistance. Under the IMF's Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief program, Senegal will benefit from eradication of two-thirds of its bilateral, multilateral, and private-sector debt.
Senegalese natural resources include fish, phosphates, iron ore
westernmost country on the African continent; The Gambia is almost an enclave within Senegal
Senegalese religion is Muslim 94%, Christian 5% (mostly Roman Catholic), indigenous beliefs 1%.
Natural hazards in Senegal include lowlands seasonally flooded; periodic droughts.
Travel Advice for Senegal
This advice has been reviewed and reissued with an amendment to the Political Situation section. The overall level of the advice has not changed.
Most visits to Senegal are trouble-free. The main type of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Senegal are varied, but have included illness and problems with passports.
Pick pocketing and street crime is common in parts of Dakar. You should take sensible precautions and avoid carrying valuables in public.
The Casamance region in south-western Senegal remains affected by incidents involving separatist rebel groups. You should avoid travel by road in the western Casamance because of the recent increase in conflict and isolated incidents of banditry.
You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
We strongly advise that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Presidential elections will take place on 25 February 2007. Legislative elections will be held on 3 June 2007. The campaign period for the presidential election formally started on 4 February 2007.
There is no reason to doubt that these elections will be conducted peacefully. However, there can be no guarantee that they will go off without incident. The use of tear gas to disperse an unauthorised march on 27 January 2007 and some stone throwing on 4 February 2007 illustrate risks that could lead to personal injury to personal bystanders.
For the moment, we advise British citizens living in or visiting Senegal to steer clear of any political demonstration or marches during the election period.
The Embassy will keep the situation under regular review, and will qualify this advice as appropriate.
Senegal Country Profile.
The Casamance region of south-western Senegal remains affected by insecurity involving separatist rebel groups. There were clashes in May 2006 involving separatist groups and the armed forces of Guinea-Bissau. In August 2006 the Senegalese government sent in troops in a military action. Clashes between the Army and presumed separatist rebels took place in December 2006 to the north of Bignona. On 30 December 2006 presumed separatist rebels murdered the President of the Zinguinchor Conseil Régional at his home in Sindian. Due to these events and their possible consequences, and to other isolated incidents of banditry we advise against road travel in the Casamance region wet of Kolda.
While some main roads are of good quality, other roads can be poor especially during the rainy season (July-October). Driving standards are unpredictable. Traffic in the Dakar area is heavy and you need to take particular care and attention to avoid accidents. Driving after dark carries added hazards because of poor lighting both of streets and other vehicles. If you do have an accident you must wait for the police to arrive at the scene.
The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the community. You should check the following link to see whether this will affect your travel: http://europa.eu.int/comm/transport/air/safety/flywell_en.htm
LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS
Most Senegalese are Muslims, although they are tolerant of other customs and religions. However, it is a generally conservative society. You are advised to dress and behave modestly in public outside the main tourist areas. Bars and restaurants usually serve alcoholic drinks but drunkenness is considered offensive. Some Muslims do not shake hands with members of the opposite sex but no rebuff is intended by this. Kissing as a greeting is acceptable but kissing romantically is not. Homosexual acts are illegal in Senegal and there is no gay scene.
UK passport holders do not need a visa to enter Senegal but passports with less than six months’ validity should ideally be renewed before travel, see also “General” below.
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact: http://www.senegalembassy.co.uk.
We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive medical and travel insurance before travelling. This should include cover for medical treatment and evacuation, accidents, cancelled flights and stolen cash, credit cards, passport and luggage. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. Please see: Travel Insurance.
Health facilities in Dakar are reasonable but are limited in the rest of Senegal.
Malaria and other tropical diseases are prevalent, especially during the rainy season (July-October). More than three-quarters of British travellers who contracted malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets. However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country. Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Senegal.
Water is sometimes unsafe. You are advised to drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes. There are occasional outbreaks of cholera but if you take sensible hygiene precautions you are unlikely to be affected. If you do suffer diarrhoea during a visit to Dakar you should consult a doctor immediately.
You should seek medical advice before travelling and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on health, check the Department of Health’s website at: DoH: Health Advice To Travellers.
If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help
The British Embassy in Dakar does not issue passports and before setting off, you should ensure that your passport has sufficient validity and a plentiful supply of unused pages. Applications for new passports are accepted in Dakar for forwarding to the British High Commission in Banjul for processing, but this may take up to five weeks. If a courier is used, the cost will have to be borne by the applicant.
Senegal has imposed a temporary ban on the import of poultry and poultry products. This is a precautionary measure against Avian Flu. No cases of Avian Flu have been reported.
Credit cards are accepted in larger establishments that cater for tourists. You should be aware that a commission is added for their use. There are ATM facilities in Dakar, but banking facilities are sporadic in the rest of the country.