Senegal Economy and Culture

By | September 27, 2021


The main crop, as mentioned above, is that of peanuts, of which Senegal is one of the major world suppliers; peanuts were introduced from America and, until the beginning of the last century, were used directly in food; the extraction of oil only began towards the middle of the century. The sandy soils and the sufficiently regular alternation of the dry and rainy seasons favor this type of cultivation, which can reach very high yields. The quantity produced, however, can undergo strong variations from one year to the next, up to halving in periods of particularly accentuated drought (for example in the years 1972-74, “years of hunger” for all of Sahelian Africa). The crops have their best areas in the Sine-Saloum region, around Kaolack, which is the large peanut harvesting center. The cultivation is practiced both in extensive plantations and in small plots under direct management, especially by the Wolof. In order, however, to free the country from the overwhelming dependence on this monoculture, diversifying the panorama of agricultural production, and above all to achieve food self-sufficiency (the most important item of imports concerns precisely in foodstuffs) various programs were launched., including the project to enhance the Senegal river with the construction of two dams and adequate infrastructures that allowed the irrigation of the land in the north of the country. Cotton, sugar cane, tobacco and gum arabic are also grown industrially. The other food crops are those of cereals, especially millet, a typical African cereal, sorghum, corn, cassava, sweet potatoes; the cultivation of rice, concentrated in the lower Casamance and in other irrigated areas, it was introduced before the arrival of the Europeans and is practiced with very refined techniques. § There is no shortage of beautiful forests, especially in southern Senegal, but they are still poorly exploited: in 2005 they supplied just over 6 million m 3 of timber in a year. The production of gum arabic is linked to the forestry sector. § Livestock farming plays a rather important economic role, also being able to count on vast areas of grass and permanent pasture. Cattle prevail, mainly raised by fulbe; equally numerous are the poultry, sheep, goats, pigs, donkeys and dromedaries. In addition to the repeated periods of drought, the structure of the property, characterized by a large presence of large estates, is an obstacle to greater exploitation of the sector. § Fishing is constantly expanding, favored by the abundance of fish, especially tuna, of the waters around Cape Verde; it supports a thriving canning industry and allows for significant exports: fish has become one of the main active items in the trade balance. In particular, the port of Dakar is one of the best equipped in the region and a great African base for tuna fishing.


According to a2zdirectory, the most dynamic sector of the Senegalese economy is that of industry, which supplies approx. 24% (2007) of the national product. Manufacturing activities clearly prevail, as the government has not been able to tackle the problem of providing Senegal with an adequate basic industry with the necessary financial support. Well represented are the food industries (which mainly include factories for the processing of peanut oil and fish, canneries, sugar refineries, milling complexes, breweries, etc.), in addition to tobacco factories, cotton mills, shoe factories, cement factories etc. and the chemical (fertilizer) and petrochemical sector; the latter in particular saw the construction of a significant plant near Cajar. L’ industry is essentially concentrated in the urban region of Dakar. § The Senegalese government is strongly interested in strengthening the mining sector, the main resources of which are offered by the rich deposits of phosphates (which after peanuts and fish represent the third item of exports); the presence off the coast of both oil and natural gas has been ascertained; iron is mined in the Falémé area, gold in Sabodalia and uranium in the eastern part of Senegal. The production of electricity, up to the 1980s, totally of thermal origin, with the construction of the dams on the Senegal river at Djama and Manantali, is also of water origin.


The customs of the Senegalese have undergone considerable influences from the Moors, the Arabs and the Sudanese and much from the Europeans: the North appears more Islamized and the South more pagan. Senegal’s Islamism is not highly orthodox, and legacies of animism with ancient outward manifestations are observed everywhere. Each brotherhood of Islam respects its own rules. The tombs of marabouts and holy men are venerated, and talismans and amulets, commonly called gris-gris (galat ‘ and téré in the Wolof language) are widespread. The Senegalese love all kinds of shows, from fighting to nda-warabine (dance to the rhythm of the tam-tam). Among the numerous ethnic groups, the Wolof is the most dynamic, but among all there is a wealth of oral traditions, music and songs. Characteristics common to all the groups are the richness of clothing, the variety of jewelry, the vivacity of makeup among women, the rituals to invoke water, the circular huts, with the perforated roof in the center to collect the rain. Big feasts celebrate the harvest days among the peasant populations. The music, particularly lively, has its characteristic rhythm in the mbalax, which turns out to be a mix of traditional sabar percussionand Cuban rhythms; artists such as Youssou N’Dour and Baaba Maal have made him internationally known and are famous all over the world. Parties and festivals are numerous; among the international sporting events the Paris-Dakar motorcycle race is legendary, which had its first edition in 1977 and which since 2009 has moved to South America. The sites declared world heritage by UNESCO are the island of Gorée (1978), located opposite Dakar, which from the 15th to the 19th century was the largest slave trade center in Africa; the island of Saint Louis (1981), facing the mouth of the Senegal river, in the past the seat of the state capital; stone circles in Senegambia (between Senegal and Gambia, 2006). Senegalese cuisine is quite simple. Among the most typical dishes are yassa, chicken macerated in rice, with spices and onion, rice with fish (tiéboudienne), legumes, rice semolina and spices, and mafé, chicken with peanut sauce. Popular drinks include palm wine (in non-Muslim areas) and an infusion of ginger and mint; ginger beer is called gingembre.

Senegal Economy and Culture