Republic since 1963. Gained independence from France in 1960.
Head of state:
President Abdoulaye Wade since 2000.
Head of government:
Prime Minister Aminata Touré since 2013.
220 volts AC, 50Hz.
Senegal is the place to head in West Africa. Long sandy-white beaches, a hip music scene, a crumbling colonial heritage, wildlife and incredibly friendly people make it a superb place for those who want to explore African culture, or just kick back and get into the vibe of the real Africa.
Senegalese music, particularly the Mbalax, has become well known internationally over the last couple of decades thanks to artists like Youssou N'dour and Baba Maal - you'll hear it blaring out of well-worn stereos all over urban places like Dakar.
The country gained independence from France in 1960. Ever since, it has been regarded as one of Africa's model democracies, with an established multi-party system and a tradition of civilian rule. The areas around the cities of Dakar and St Louis, colonised in the 1840s, were the earliest parts of the formal French empire in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Casamance region of south-western Senegal remains affected by incidents involving presumed separatist groups and by incidents of banditry. Travellers are advised against road travel in the Casamance region to the west of Kolda, other than on the main road from Ziguinchor to Cap Skirring which is often used by groups of tourists.
Most visits to Senegal are trouble-free but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate international terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.
The organisers of the Paris-Dakar Rally 2008 have cancelled this year's event due to security concerns.
Pick pocketing and street crime is common in parts of Dakar. Travellers should take sensible precautions and avoid carrying valuables in public.
This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. It is correct at time of publishing. As the situation can change rapidly, visitors are advised to contact the following organisaions for the latest travel advice: British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Tel: 020 7008 1500. Website: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice