Senegalese Cultures

Senegal is about the size of the state of South Dakota and rests on the tip of a peninsula. Dakar, its capital and largest city, is known for its vibrant nightlife and busting markets. Senegal also offers stunning beaches and scenic national parks with hundreds of species of birds. The country is home to many diverse ethnic groups, each with its own history, language, and culture. Senegal’s largest ethnic groups are the Wolof and the Pular. Teranga, the Senegalese concept of hospitality, encourages people to openly share with family and friends. This concept of sharing is valued greatly in Senegalese culture and considered key to harmonious relationships.

Host a Senegalese student in the U.S.

Senegalese People and Community

Senegalese people perceive the family as a symbol of strength. Staying together is common in Senegalese culture and privacy is not a priority. In many rural areas and traditional urban families, extended families live together in compounds (with separate areas for each family) or in a large house divided among families. Children typically live with their parents until they get married. Families are generally patriarchal, in which men are considered the head of the family and make most of the decisions, while women control household duties.

Language and Communication Styles

French is Senegal’s official language.

Food in Senegal

In Senegal, meals usually consist of one main dish of rice, millet, or corn, covered with vegetable sauce, meat, poultry, fish, beans, or milk, and sugar. A popular dish is yassa, rice and chicken covered with a sauce made of sliced onions and spices. Thiebou dien, a meal of fish and rice, is a typical lunch dish. Ceebu jeen is one of Senegal’s most popular dishes, which is fish stuffed with vegetables and seasonings and served over rice.