(Republic of Senegal, République du Sénégal)
- Location: Western Africa
- Capital: Dakar
- Language: French (official), Wolof, Soninke
- Population: 13,643,799
- Total Area: 196,722 sq km
- Currency: CFA Franc
- Curious Alcohol Fact: Although Senegal is a Muslim nation, getting a chilled bottle of beer is not a big deal.
- Annual Average Liquor Consumption: 0.60 liter
- Most Popular Drink: Senegalese beer and locally-brewed drinks
The Republic of Senegal is located at the westernmost region of the continent, and it got its name from a river of the same name. ‘Senegal’ is a Wolof word meaning ‘our canoe’ and researchers believe that the word was first used in reference to the tribes that inhabited the riverine areas of the country. Senegal was colonized by France and got its independence in 1960. An interesting feature with the geography of Senegal is that another nation (The Gambia) is enclosed within it. To the west of the country is the blissful Atlantic Ocean and the coastline is just a few hundred kilometers away from the Cape Verde Islands.
Like in many of the other West African nations I visited, Senegal is ethnically diverse and there are various tribes. The largest ethnic group is the Wolof and almost half of the Senegalese population belongs to this group. Other tribes include the Serer, Fula, Soninke and the Mandinka. In addition to these, there are many more groups but irrespective of the tribe you visit, one thing that you will always notice is the warm nature of the people and their pleasant disposition towards tourists and foreigners. Some citizens like Leopold Sedar Senghor (its first president) and Sheikh Ibrahim Kaolaq Inyass (a spiritual guru) are known all over the world.
For me, the best time in Senegal was during the meals. Africans are known to prepare delicious meals but the Senegalese have taken it further by making some of the most tantalizing meals. As a tourist, I was offered some of the finest meals around. I can recall the specially-prepared dish of rice called thieb. It was served with mafe, a soup made from peanuts.
While in the capital, I enjoyed a plate of thieboudienne, a rice-based dish that included vegetables and fresh fish. In various parts of Senegal, there are farming communities and delicacies are always prepared in one village or the other. The only problem you will have as a tourist when it comes to food in Senegal is choice. However, you should not that rejecting an offer of food by your Senegalese host is considered an insult.
Although Senegal is a predominantly Muslim nation, alcohol is widely available and in the capital city of Dakar, there are breweries producing beer for the populace. Thus, Senegalese beer is consumed all over the country. In the rural areas, locally-brewed drinks are made using maize and sorghum.
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