Coins and Currency
Senegal shares a single currency, the CFA franc (currency code XOF), with 7 other WAEMU partners in the West African subregion. The CFA franc is pegged to the euro at 1 € = 655.957. Within this ‘Zone Franc’, bank transfers are unregulated. Authorised transfers in and out of the Zone Franc are made by intermediary banks. Euro checkbooks and credit cards can be used to withdraw money in most of the many banks in Senegal.
A dense network of banks and a large number of officials ‘Bureau de Change’ facilitate exchange operations. ATMs and cash transfers are available throughout the country. Credit cards are accepted in many stores, hotels, restaurants, car rental and travel agencies.
Languages and cultures
The official language of Senegal, spoken by much of the population, is French. There are six national languages: Wolof, spoken mainly in Dakar, Serer, Diola, Pulaar, Soninke, Mandingo and several other dialects. Greetings are important. Arabic greetings are widely used in Senegal. Greet with "Salem Alekum" and respond with "Alekum Salem" (Peace be upon you, upon you be peace)
Public holidays include January 1, April 4 (Independence Day), May 1 (Labor Day). Muslim holidays are Eid el Fitr known locally as Korité, Eid El Kebir known locally as Tabaski, the Muslim New Year or Tamxarit which depend on the Islamic calendar. Catholic holidays are Christmas, Easter, Ascension and Assumption.
The country code for Senegal is 221, telephone networks and internet connection are excellent. Placing local and international calls, sending and receiving faxes can be done from most hotels, cyber cafés and ‘télécentres’ (phone shops).
There are three mobile operators offering subscriptions or prepaid cards, with prepaid (top up) cards widely available. Telephone services and Internet pricing is particularly attractive.
Senegal offers a wide variety of hotels, guest houses, furnished apartments, hostels and campsites, each with their own style. All aim to offer the best value for money to meet personal or professional need.
The national postal service is reliable and post offices, present throughout the territory, are generally open weekdays from 7:30 AM to 4 PM. Additional services (express mail, money transfer) are also available. Senegal is in GMT and does not use daylight saving time.
Electrical outlets provide 220V 50 Hz with round two-pin plugs as in continental Europe.
Hotels and camps charge a tourism tax of 600 CFA francs, sometimes included in the rates displayed.
In restaurants it is customary to tip between 5 and 10 percent.
A wide range of recreational, entertainment and sports activities is available. Dakar hosts concerts, exhibitions, drama, music and dance festivals with periodic events like Dak’Art, the biannual "Biennale des Arts de Dakar" and major international forums, casinos, shopping malls hosting prestigious brands.
Points of interest include the beach resort of Saly, Gorée Island and Old Town St. Louis, both listed as UNESCO World Heritage, many bird sanctuaries and natural parks, as well as the private nature reserve Bandia.
Sports-wise, Dakar caters for tennis, golf, horse riding, surfing, scuba diving, sport fishing, motor sports (circuit approved by the International Automobile Federation), dance, fitness, and of course, ocean swimming in the many approved public beaches jotted along Dakar’s coastline.