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A Look at Senegal's Culture and Economy

Image of Families attending a malaria clinic in Senegal.
Families attend a malaria clinic in Senegal.

Senegal is located on the westernmost point of the continent of Africa. In this story, we take a look at the traditions, cultures and economy of Senegal, a country with many children in need of sponsors.

The Senegalese people

Senegal has a population of more than 12 million people, many of whom live in rural areas. Although a majority of the Senegalese population belongs to the Wolof ethnic group, many other ethnicities are present today, including the Fula, Toucouleur and Serer.

The culture of Senegal

Senegal has a rich and varied culture dating back centuries.

Music and dance play an integral role, and distinctive traditional music such as Yela, the rhythms of which mimic the sound of grain being pounded by female villagers, is still practiced by many people in Senegal. Musical instruments such as the kora and hoddu are still played during celebrations in many parts of the country. The famous Senegalese musician Youssou N'Dour was appointed the minister of culture in April 2012.

In addition to its rich musical culture, Senegal is famous across Africa for the quality of its jewelry. Local artisans sell their exquisitely crafted gold and silver jewelry in regional markets all over the country, and the large amber necklaces traditionally worn by Fulani women are a common sight.

As Senegal used to be a French colony, the country is still popular with French tourists, many of whom spend their vacations in coastal regions. In comparison to some other African countries, Senegal is relatively Westernized, especially the capital of Dakar.

Politically, Senegal is relatively stable in comparison to some other African nations. Presidents are elected every five years, and President Macky Sall, who took office in March 2012, has made significant headway in reshuffling his cabinet to include prominent and respected Senegalese people such as Abdoul Latif Coulibaly, who was named the minister for good governance in an attempt to promote accountability and transparency of government.

An economy in transition

In the past, much of Senegal's economy was dependent on agriculture. However, in recent years, environmental crises such as droughts have caused a shift in the country's agricultural production. Today, mining, petroleum refining and the production of artificial fertilizers and chemicals account for a substantial part of the country's economy.

Senegalese exports such as cotton, fabrics, calcium phosphate and refined petroleum are shipped all over the world, providing economic stimulus to the country. Top importers of Senegalese products include Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Children's issues

You can support a child to ensure that he or she has access to lifesaving medications to combat diseases such as malaria, which is prevalent in Senegal. So far, ChildFund, through the help of sponsors, has provided more than 800,000 treated bed nets to slow the spread of malaria, but we still need your help. One urgent problem in Senegal is lack of access to education, especially for girls. President Sall recently implemented programs to provide a higher standard of education for all children in Senegal, but these initiatives are dependent on the work of organizations such as ChildFund and the financial support of the International Monetary Fund, USAID and private donors like you.

If you want to make a difference and help children in need, work with us to fight child poverty by sponsoring a child in Senegal.

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ChildFund International has earned high ratings from Charity Navigator, the American Institute of Philanthropy and Charities Review Council.

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