Updated 3 years ago

If you are about to move to Senegal, it is best to be aware of its inhabitants' lifestyle and culture. Find out more in this article.

Senegal is known worldwide for being the land of “Teranga”. The country's inhabitants are world famous for their unprecedented hospitality towards foreigners. This is one of the factors attracting expatriates. Moving there can be a really enriching experience, whether in professional, personal or cultural terms.

So if you intend to move there, it is best to inquire on its inhabitants’ lifestyle, as well as on their traditions, so as to avoid getting confused.


There is so much to discover in Senegal, according to foreigners having been there. Senegalese are not only friendly, but also warm and welcoming towards foreigners. They do not hesitate a second to cross the street to say Hello or even engage in a conversation. They will even be glad to share with you their knowledge about the local culture, traditions, and even on the local cuisine.

If you know how to smile, there should be no gap between you and the locals, whether you are in Dakar or in any other city, or even in the rural regions.


Senegal is a harmonious blend of languages, religions and ethnicities. Indeed, you are likely to find Soninké, Sarakolé, Lebu, Serere, Diola, Bassari, Bedik, Wolof (who make up the majority), Toucouleurs, Mandingo and Fulani, all making up the colorful Senegalese population. As regards the languages spoken, you have at least 50 dialects, along with Wolof and French which are spoken by locals and foreigners as well.

You will be happy to know that Senegal has been attracting more and more foreigners from across the globe for many years. Hence, you are likely to come across different nationalities, including Chinese, French, Lebanese, etc.


When focusing on a country, religion is another undeniable aspect which is also deemed to be part of its inhabitants' everyday life. The country provides a blend of Islam, along with Christianity and Animism.

Islam is the majority's religion. However, over the centuries, Muslims have given it a touch of the African culture. In fact, it is practiced as such by Quadiriyy, Tidianiya, Mouriddiya and Laayènnes brotherhoods, each led by an officiant.

Christianity was introduced in the 19th century by French missionaries. To date, 5% of Senegalese are Christians. They mainly live in cities where there is a strong French and Lebanese concentration, as well as in the South and Central-West regions.

Animism, for its part, involves both Christians and Muslims. It is a belief which is based on spirits and souls, mixing with monotheistic religions and including marabouts, charms, etc. Village ancestors, as well as families often take part in these ceremonies.

Social traditions

In general, the term “community” in Africa applies to all spheres of everyday life despite modernity and its share of individualism.

The “tontine”, for instance, remains a popular and yet rigorous practice to date. The “tontine” is a mutual fund to which village inhabitants contribute an agreed small amount of money, per month or per week. The money raised is then given to a person or family after a defined period. Once this is done, it goes all over again with an empty box so that every member can have his turn.

Tales and proverbs are also part of the traditions that characterize Senegal and Africa. These are transmitted from one generation to another as worlds of wisdom and pieces of advice. You will often come across men and women gossiping about these under a tree.

Between traditions and modernity

Senegal is deemed to be one of the most developed African countries. But its long history is still demonstrated by its people and their everyday life. Many Senegalese are very educated and have fairly succeeded in life, along with sticking to ancient traditions. Hence, the country is defined as a mixture of traditions and modernity. Many foreigners, over the years, have managed to find their way through and adapt to the Senegalese society.

 Useful links:

Expat.com - Senegal Everyday life Forum 
Our Africa – Senegal www.our-africa.org
Kwintessential www.kwintessential.co.uk

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