Senegal’s climate can generally be described as tropical. The weather varies in different parts of the country. There are two seasons namely the rainy season from June to October, the dry season from November to May. In the coastal region, it is generally cooler due to the brisk onshore winds. Winter temperatures usually range from 18°C to 26°C January. In summer, the maximum temperatures average around 31°C. Rains arrive in June and are at its peak in August and tail off by October, bringing around 550 m of annual rainfall. The northern half of the country fall in the Sahel region, a semi-arid land where the temperatures can be cool at night, dropping to around 14°C, but often reach 40°C by the day. Rainfall in the Sahel region is below 400 mm. The Southern part of the country is hot and humid with average temperature above 30°C throughout the year and rainfall is usually over 1500 mm.
Sufi Islam is the predominant religion in Senegal and is practiced by approximately 90% of the country’s population. Islamic communities in Senegal are generally organized around several Islamic Sufi orders or brotherhood, headed by a Khalif, who usually is a direct descendant of the group’s founder. The Christian community comprises of 10% of the country’s population including Roman Catholics and diverse Protestant denominations. Small Roman Catholic communities are mainly found in coastal Serer. In the capital city Dakar, Catholic and Protestant rites are practiced by Lebanese, Cape Verdean, and European and American immigrants. One percent of the country’s population maintains animism in their beliefs and is usually found in the south-eastern region of the country. Besides them, there are small number of adherents of Judaism and Buddhism. Judaism is followed by members of several ethnic groups, while Buddhism is followed by a number of Vietnamese.
The Mosquée de la Divinité in Ouakam
The basic diet of the people consists of rice cooked with hot spicy sauce and vegetables. And most of the Senegalese start their day with bread. Main meals usually include rice dishes and protein provided by meat, peanuts or fish. The national dish is chep-bu-jen; it is cooked in tomato sauce with boiled fish, herbs, and vegetables including carrots, cabbage and green peppers. It basically originated from the city of Saint-Louis. Another popular dish among the people is Yassa poulet, which is made from chicken or fish marinated in lemon juice, pepper and onions and then baked. It is then accompanied by plain white rice. Among the drinks the most common drinks is bissap, which is made from hibiscus, sugar and water.
Senegal’s market economy is majorly based on agriculture. But over the years the economic growth has declined due to severe drought conditions, which can send the economy into severe recession. The most important produce is millet and sorghum. Cotton, rice and sugar are also grown in the country. Large quantities of rice are imported as it is the country’s staple food. Senegal’s industrial output towards the economy is largely based on the agricultural performance. Most of the major manufacturing industries are located in and around the capital city Dakar. Food processing is the largest activity, which accounts for 43% of industrial production. Groundnut extraction is among the major agricultural industry. The others include fishing, phosphate mining, chemicals and oil, metal and mechanical industry. In terms of small-scale industry, the craft sector is very active as it includes handmade textiles, gold, silver, pottering, basketry and other traditional crafts. Senegal majorly exports peanuts, cotton, fish and fishing products. Capital goods and petroleum are usually imported from neighbouring countries like France, Nigeria, Algeria, China and Japan.
Education is free and compulsory up to the age of 16. But the public schools are unable to cope with the number of children that enrol each year. But over the past few decades, the government has focused on improving the education system. In rural areas, the children have a long walk to school and the environment is neither ideal nor the classroom sizes are big for all the students to fit in. The teaching material such as textbooks in local languages is often limited. Poverty is the main barrier preventing the children from staying in education, the dropout rates are higher than the students enrolling. Due to poverty, younger generation tend to indulge in child labour. Illiteracy rate is high, particularly among the women. The government has been investing in training the teachers to increase the literacy level. There are three private and three public universities in Senegal.
Cheikh Anta Diop University
Senegal being a poor nation is challenged by numerous health problems among the citizens. Poor sanitation is the main factor that affects the level of health for the people. People suffer from various diseases including parasitic, intestinal, venereal and respiratory. Intestinal parasites are the most common among the people because of polluted water that is consumed and used on daily basis. AIDS and Malaria is the major concern for the population and the health care services. The quality of health care service provided is declining over the years due to decline in number of hospital beds, medical personnel and lack of medicines. Senegal has a Social Security system but it does not cover health or unemployment. There are two types of health care schemes made available to the citizens: public and private. The private health care system is useful for self-employed people who want health care services that go beyond primary care.