Senegal is an independent republic with a democratic government which lies on the westernmost bulge of Africa and forms part of the West African Region. The capital city is Dakar. Other major cities are Saint Louis, Thies and Kaolack.

The official language is French and Wolof is the most widely spoken Senegalese language. Senegal has a free-market economy in which the dominant sector is private. The local currency is the CFA-franc. (US$ / CFA Franc – current exchange rate).

The production and export of cocoa are the key elements of the Senegalese economy. As a result, the economy is not diversified and relies heavily on imports. The world cocoa price has declined steadily in the past few years, putting pressure on the economy and living standards. Senegalese industry is small, and industries like fishing and tourism are being developed slowly. Senegal has engaged in discussions regarding an adjustment system which would help to stabilise the macroeconomy and implement reforms.

The Senegal oil industry is one of the key elements in the economy of the country. While the upstream potential of the country has yet to be fully assessed, the downstream oil industry is well-developed. There is an oil refinery at Dakar and many of the major international oil companies have a presence in the country. Senegal’s mining industry is a small but important contributor to the country’s GDP and is an important source of export earnings.

The international time zone for Senegal is GMT and the international dialling code is +221. The national air carrier is Air Senegal. Other principal airlines which fly to the country are Air Afrique and Air France. Visas are not required for European Union countries, citizens of most African Francophone countries, or South African citizens. The reciprocity rule applies for all other countries. Exchange control exists for financial transfers outside the Franc Zone (a monetary zone including France and its former overseas colonies).

Malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, hepatitis A, meningitis, typhoid fever, yellow fever (regional) and schistosomiasis (bilharzia) may be contracted while travelling in Senegal. Travellers should be aware that advance payment for medical services may be required. Prescription medicines should be carried in their original containers together with the prescription. Vaccinations should be obtained before entering Senegal.

Shaun Bakamoso

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